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Take Charge Of A/C ● The Benefits Of ASE Certification ● Ceramic Takes Center Stage

December 2013

Meet Raymond Guffey III 2013 Counter

Professional of the Year for reader service for reader service


December Volume 31, No. 12

features Counter Professional of the Year By Mark Phillips

Meet Raymond Guffey III, the 2013 Counter Professional of the Year, sponsored by Affinia Group, WIX Filters and Raybestos Chassis. ....................

Tech Features



By Larry Carley

28 Ceramic takes center stage. .......................... 30 CV joints take a pounding. .......................... 32 Engine sensors keep everything in check. .. 34 Take charge of A/C. ....................................

Mechanic Connection

By Gary Goms

The benefits of ASE certification. ...............



44 Cover photo by Bob Self

columns Editor’s Ink


By Mark Phillips ..................................................................................

You gotta want it.

From The Publisher


By S. Scott Shriber......................................................

Are you ready for this?



By Mandy Aguilar ......................................................................

Sensor — not included.

Allen & Allan


By Allen Markowitz and Allan Gerber ......................................

Counter professionals need training, too.


COUNTERMAN (ISSN 0739-3695) (December 2013 Volume 31, Number 12): Copyright 2013 Babcox Media, Inc. All Rights Reserved: Published monthly by Babcox, 3550 Embassy Parkway, Akron, OH 44333 U.S.A. Phone (330) 670-1234, Fax (330) 670-0874. Periodical postage paid at Akron, OH 44333 and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to COUNTERMAN, 3550 Embassy Parkway, Akron, OH 44333-8318. A limited number of complimentary subscriptions are available to individuals who meet the qualification requirements. Call (330) 670-1234, Ext. 275, to speak to a subscription services representative or FAX us at (330) 670-5335. Paid Subscriptions are available for non-qualified subscribers at the following rates: U.S.: $69. Samples and back issues - Domestic - $10, International/via air mail $15. Canada: $89 for one year, $149 for two years. Canadian rates include GST. Ohio residents add 5.75% sales tax. Other foreign rates/via air mail: $129 for one year. Payable in advance in U.S. funds. Mail payment to COUNTERMAN, P.O. Box 75692, Cleveland, OH 44101-4755. Visa, MasterCard or American Express accepted.


December 2013 | Counterman for reader service

departments 8

NASCAR Performance ..................................................................................

This monthly special section takes you behind the scenes of this fastgrowing sport.


MarketPlace ......................................................................................

Every month, MarketPlace showcases the newest automotive product and service innovations your customers are asking about!


Aftermarket News ......................................................................................

Aftermarket News presents news, views and analysis of current trends and events in aftermarket distribution.





S. Scott Shriber 330-670-1234, ext. 229 EDITORIAL

Mark Phillips, Editor 330-670-1234, Ext. 299 Amy Antenora, Editor, aftermarketNews Managing Editor, Counterman 330-670-1234, Ext. 220 Larry Carley, Technical Editor CONTRIBUTING EDITORS

Mandy Aguilar, Columnist Gary Goms, Commercial Accounts Gerald Wheelus, Columnist Allen Markowitz, Columnist Allan Gerber, Columnist Jerry King, Cartoonist GRAPHIC DESIGN

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December 2013 | Counterman

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Edward S. Babcox (1885-1970) Founder Tom B. Babcox (1919-1995) Chairman Founded 1983. Copyright 2013 Babcox Media, Inc., All Rights Reserved COUNTERMAN (ISSN-0739-3695) is published monthly by Babcox Media, 3550 Embassy Pkwy., Akron, OH 44333. Periodical postage paid at Akron, OH and additional mailing offices. Member, BPA International for reader service


DITOR’S INK By Mark Phillips

You Gotta Want It here’s a great book on business and personal achievement that has sold millions of copies. Yes, it was published in 1937, but Napolean Hill’s “Think and Grow Rich” is as relevant today as it was nearly 70 years ago. At the prodding of Andrew Carnegie — yes, that Andrew Carnegie, the industrialist, young journalist Napolean Hill set out to interview many successful people and boil down their triumphs into a simple formula. Carnegie thought this simple formula was something anyone could master and become successful. In the book, Hill writes, “If you truly desire money so keenly that your desire is an obsession, you will have no difficulty in convincing yourself that you will acquire it. The object is to want money, and to be so determined to have it that you convince yourself that you will have it . . . You may as well know, right here, that you can never have riches in great quantities unless you work yourself into a white heat of desire for money, and actually believe you will possess it.” In other words, if you want it, you gotta want it — bad. Though the book’s title mentions “rich” and deals with money throughout, its

T There is something about the act of writing a goal down and verbalizing it that cannot be overstated.

principles could be applied to any goal someone wants to attain. This book was written toward the tail end of the Great Depression, a time when people were hungry for an idea might ward off the hardship they had just endured. One of the steps in achieving your goals, Hill writes in his book, is to write them down and say them out loud. (Go in the bathroom if you don’t want to look goofy talking to yourself.) There is something about the act of writing a goal down and verbalizing it that cannot be overstated. Why am I bringing all this up? Because we’re about to begin a new year. If it’s been a good year for you, let’s repeat it and get better for 2014. If 2013 wasn’t such a good year, let’s get a lot better! A Word About We at Babcox Media are offering an exclusive, special service. is more than a jobs board — it’s a comprehensive hiring platform, solely for the automotive aftermarket. We publish job openings in the distribution, collision, executive, tire and service and repair segments. If you’re hunting for another job, it’s the best place to turn to. Or if you’re in hiring mode at your warehouse or retail operation, it’s an essential way to get your job ad noticed. For information about posting a job, contact Karen Kaim at or visit the site, CM

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For more information: Twitter: @CountermanMag for reader service

Track Talk The Bump Stops Here Shock technology is a very special tool in a NASCAR team’s tuning arsenal. NASCAR competitors simply can’t risk a substandard shock setup – it literally can be the difference between a 30th place finish or tasting champagne in victory lane. Most every team now employs at least one shock specialist who is charged with finding the right combination that will allow the race car to get as low to the ground as possible without dragging the nose of the Gen-6.

Shock specialist Chris Golder is a vital member of Jeff Gordon’s ontrack success.

Hendrick Motorsport’s crew chief Alan Gustafson relies on veteran shock specialist Chris Golder to make sure Jeff Gordon’s No. 24 Axalta Racing Chevrolet SS has precise handling and comfort from Martinsville to Texas and everywhere in between on the circuit. Golder, 33, grew up in

Alpharetta, Ga., greasing his passion for restoring cars alongside his dad who owned an automotive repair shop. “I have always had an interest in cars,” said Golder. “I grew up with three younger sisters and no brothers, so cars were kind of a way for me and my dad to spend time together and bond.” After graduating from Georgia Tech in 2004 with a degree in mechanical engineering, Golder began his NASCAR career at Hendrick Motorsports. Today, as the shock specialist on the No. 24, he works with Gustafson to determine the best setup packages. “My main responsibility is the springs and the shocks,” explained Golder. “Springs are used to control the height of the race car. At the bigger, faster tracks both the front and rear attitude is very important, so we work a lot with springs and spring rubbers, along with the shocks and bump stops.” Golder spends much of his time daily configuring shock-spring combinations for each racetrack to ensure Gordon has the best possible control over the car. “I run simulations to come up with good packages,” explained Golder. “I work up options around those packages to try and practice to get Jeff’s feedback.” NASCAR does not allow teams to run data during the race weekend, only during test sessions. So, simulation has to be spot-on. “Without data, sometimes we don’t know exactly what’s going on out there on the

track,” said Golder. “We have to be able to move quickly and make changes if needed since we only get about three hours of practice on a weekend.” On race weekends, you can find Golder working inside the No. 24 transporter. His workstation houses a shock dyno that moves at different displacements, enabling the team to measure different drive and track profiles. “The front shocks on race cars are what we like to call ‘aero inhibitors,’” explained Golder. “On the front shocks, we have bump stops that we fine tune to affect the attitude of the race car. There’s a great compromise between running a softer bump stop, which is going to feel better to the driver, versus a stiff stop that’s going to keep the car sealed down to the racetrack and help improve the aerodynamics.” That delicate balance has become one of the critical points on a race car. No track is smooth as silk – Golder says short tracks

and rougher tracks are the toughest on shocks. How the car handles depends on which shocks are used and how resistant they are to motion. To control the movement, teams can tweak the piston, shims and oil inside a shock for each track. To keep the oil from foaming and losing its ability to compress and rebound, a shock is pressurized with nitrogen. NASCAR rear shocks can have no less than 25 pounds of pressure per square inch (psi) and no more than 75 pounds of pressure psi. Golder, who maintains approximately 130 shocks during the season, says he does almost 200 re-valve jobs per year and installs between 30 to 40 percent of the shocks on the race car himself. “The easiest tracks on shocks are the superspeedways where you’re not worrying about mechanical grip,” said Golder. “The most technical tracks are the short tracks and rougher racetracks like Las Vegas and Atlanta.”

Shock therapy: NASCAR competitors can't risk a substandard shock setup – it can be the difference between a 30th place finish or victory lane.

Follow NASCAR Performance on Twitter and Facebook ■

MARKETPLACE › visit for reader service MAHLE Clevite Expands North American Product Offering MAHLE Clevite has expanded its North American product offering to include Behr thermostats and other components for temperature regulation, as a result of the progressing acquisition by MAHLE of Behr. This extensive range of thermostats, switches and sensors for the automotive aftermarket is available under both the MAHLE Original and Behr brands. MAHLE’s acquisition in May of the majority share in Behr and Behr Thermo-tronic, provides the MAHLE Group with the resources to offer a full line of thermostat products to the automotive aftermarket.

Rislone Ethanol Fuel Treatment Prevents Costly Ethanol-Related Damage in Cars, Trucks and Boats Popular ethanol fuel mixtures like E10, E15 and E85 flex-fuel may contribute to fuel system deterioration and engine problems for certain vehicle owners. Encourage customers who store their vehicles for long periods of time, drive in high-humidity environments or fill trailered personal watercraft and boats at gas stations to prevent damage with new Rislone Ethanol Fuel Treatment. The super-concentrated formula provides ethanol stabilizers and conditioners not found in traditional fuel additives. Rislone Ethanol Fuel Treatment (P/N 4774) is compatible with all two-cycle, four-cycle, fuel injected, direct injected, turbo and carbureted engines. It should be used year-round for optimal protection against rust, corrosion, gum and varnish.

JohnDow/Dynamic Introduces New Line Of TPMS Sensor Storage Cabinets JohnDow Industries and its Dynamic brand recently introduced a new line of TPMS Sensor Storage Cabinets. The single-door TPMS-90 cabinet will hold up to 90 DVT-sensors that are stored in separate rows for easy identification. Up to 72 DVT-sensors can be stored in the TPMS-72P two-door deluxe cabinet along with up to 28 boxes of service kits and accessories. A pullout drawer is added to hold essential TPMS service tools. Both cabinets can be locked for additional security. The cabinets can be wallmounted or mounted to the optional TPMS-CS cabinet stand. This stand is a convenient way to locate either cabinet close to the work area or any open area in the shop. The Dynamic TPMS brand features multi-application


December 2013 | Counterman

DVT (Dual Valve Technology) sensors. The six Dynamic-DVT pre-programmed sensors provide 85 percent brand-to-brand coverage for domestic and Asian vehicles. In addition to the DVT-sensors, TPMS service rebuild kits and TPMS mechanical tools also are part of the Dynamic TPMS product line.

MARKETPLACE › visit for reader service MOOG Brand Problem Solver Control Arm Bushings For Millions Of Vehicles Federal-Mogul has introduced MOOG Problem Solver control arm bushings featuring a patentpending ball-and-socket design that eliminates stress-induced failures encountered in OE-style parts. The new MOOG bushings last up to 10 times longer than OE-style bushings and are available for millions of popular foreign nameplate and domestic passenger vehicles. They are permanently lubricated and sealed with premium MOOG boots to prevent contamination, and also help professional technicians save time by providing fast, easy alignment of the bushing sleeve with the bolthole in the vehicle frame. Available immediately for millions of popular passenger vehicles from Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Mazda and Toyota.

SMP Releases 412 New Intermotor Parts Standard Motor Products has added 412 new part numbers to its Intermotor line of genuine import parts. The Intermotor line expansion features more than 175 new switches, including multi-function, combination, heated seat, parking brake, trunk ajar, cruise control, fog lamp, power seat memory, power window and more, covering more than 80 million additional VIO. Intermotor also added more than 125 sensors, including significant coverage for clone-able TPMS sensors, secondary air injection, exhaust gas temperature, camshaft and crankshaft, ABS speed, brake pad wear, turbocharger boost, vehicle speed, as well as ignition coils, canister vent solenoids, EGR valves and solenoids, fuel injectors, airbag clocksprings and power door lock actuators.

Philips Debuts New X-tremeVision LED Exterior Lighting Philips Automotive North America, a division of Royal Philips, has unveiled new street-legal applications for stop, tail and back-up lighting with its new line of Philips X-tremeVision LED Exterior Lighting. These new Philips X-tremeVision LED Exterior bulb replacements use high-powered LEDs to deliver five times more light output than standard 1156, 1157 and 921 incandescent bulbs, while using 13 times less energy. The extra light output provided by these new LEDs helps increase safety and speeds driver response during braking. Designed as direct replacements for original equipment, they are heat-resistant and offer a perfect fit in the vehicle’s existing bulb socket. With a life expectancy of up to 12 years, the new Philips LED lights will last substantially longer than traditional bulbs. The new LED lamps are available in Intense Red for 1156 and 1157 for stop, and tail light, as well as 6000K Xenon White for 921 White and 1156 White for back up light applications. 11


Rusty Bishop Named AWDA’s 2013 Leader of the Year LAS VEGAS – Rusty Bishop, of Federated Auto Parts Distributors, Staunton, Va., has been named the 2013 recipient of the Automotive Rusty Bishop Warehouse Distributors Association (AWDA) Leader of the Year Award. Each year, AWDA bestows this prestigious honor on an aftermarket professional who has contributed to the industry in a unique and significant way. Bishop began his career in the aftermarket 43 years ago with Fisher Auto Parts. Taken under the wing of CEO Art Fisher, he worked in warehouse and store management and eventually became a director of the company. In 1985, Bishop cofounded Federated Auto Parts Distributors, growing it to become one of the nation’s largest automotive parts distribution networks. Bishop holds the position of CEO with Federated, which today includes 57 independent distribution companies, representing more than 4,000 parts store locations. Said AAIA President and CEO Kathleen Schmatz in presenting the Leader of the Year Award, “Rusty has been an aftermarket fixture for decades; a powerful and unwavering advocate for the industry he so clearly loves. Now it’s his time for this most prestigious recognition.” for reader service


December 2013 | Counterman

Guess the Car Win $100! This Month’s Puzzle


What vehicle does this picture represent? If you think you know the answer, go to and click “Guess the Car” on the nav bar. Submit your answer and contact information. A winner will be randomly selected by the Counterman staff from all correct answers. The deadline to enter is Jan. 7. The winner’s name will appear in the next issue. Stay tuned!

Last Month’s Correct Answer:


“I’m still waiting for him!” VW Rabbit Congrats to Dustin Shields, Marietta, Ga. for reader service


UPS Survey Reveals Automotive Aftermarket Online Consumer Preferences A new study, titled “UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper for Automotive Parts & Accessories Buyers,” reveals findings about online consumers that the shipping company says can help aftermarket automotive suppliers compete more effectively. Among the study’s primary findings were: 1. Although price is a major factor in the online purchasing process, automotive parts and accessories (AP&A) survey respondents said non-price features, such as the seller’s return policy, prod-

uct selection and shipping options make up 60 percent of all comparison-shopping considerations. 2. Online sellers who can best meet and manage their online customers’ expectations may have a more meaningful advantage over their competition, according to recent comScore research. 3. Seventy-five percent reported that they have added additional items to their shopping carts to qualify for free shipping. For a copy of the study, visit

Parts Authority Acquires BAP Auto Parts PHOENIX, Ariz. and NEW YORK – New York-based The Parts Authority Inc. has acquired BAP Auto Parts, a chain of import parts stores in Arizona. The deal closed on Nov. 15, and Parts Authority officially took over operations as of Nov. 17. BAP Auto Parts brings Parts Authority a vast influx of import parts expertise as well as inventory and several strategic locations in the Phoenix, Ariz., area. “We are also extremely pleased with the level of parts professionals and the quality of the operation that BAP maintained,” stated Parts Authority President and CEO Randy Buller, in announcing the acquisition. “This is truly a first-class operation and we intend on growing our business with the help of this exceptional team.” BAP has nine locations in Arizona, bringing the Parts Authority’s total store count now to more than 30.

Blueocean Study: AutoZone Ranked No. 1 For Social Media Effectiveness Of Top U.S. Retailers for reader service

SEATTLE – Research and analytics firm Blueocean Market Intelligence recently revealed the results of its “2013 Social Media Effectiveness Index (SEI) for Retailers,” a global study assessing the business impact of top retailers’ social media efforts. It found retail brands with positive scores across multiple social media dimensions have the greatest potential for market leadership and influence over customer experiences. No. 1 on this year’s list was auto parts retailer AutoZone. 14

December 2013 | Counterman

The following brands comprise the 2013 top 10 SEI Retail: 1. AutoZone 2. BJ’s Wholesale Club 3. Wal-Mart 4. Costco 5. Walgreens 6. IKEA 7. Bed Bath & Beyond 8. 9. Ralphs 10. Dollar Tree for reader service


Genuine Parts Co. Announces Industrial And Electrical Acquisitions

The Network Extends West Coast Reach With Addition Of Fast Undercar

ATLANTA – Genuine Parts Co.’s (GPC) Industrial and Electrical Groups recently made acquisitions. Effective Oct. 31, the company’s Electrical Group, EIS Inc. (EIS), closed on the acquisition of the assets of Tekra Corp. Headquartered in New Berlin, Wis., Tekra is an independent coater, converter and distributor of specialty films and adhesives, which complements the fabrication capabilities at EIS. The company expects the acquired business to generate annual revenues of approximately $75 million. The company’s Industrial Group, Motion Industries, acquired the stock of AST Bearings LLC, effective Oct. 26. AST is a value-added supplier of high-precision bearings and related products, with two locations in Montville, N.J., and Irvine, Calif. The company expects the acquired business to generate annual revenues of approximately $35 million. Tom Gallagher, chairman and CEO of Genuine Parts Co., stated, “We are encouraged by the ample growth opportunities these new businesses provide us. We continue to target quality organizations to support the long-term growth strategies in each of our business segments. We welcome these talented teams to the GPC family and look forward to the contributions they will make to our company in the years ahead.”

GERMANTOWN, Tenn. – The Automotive Distribution Network has expanded its footprint on the West Coast with the addition of Ventura, Calif.-based Fast Undercar to membership, according to Mike Lambert, president of the Network. “With four corporate locations and 28 franchise stores serving markets throughout Southern California as well as in Oregon, Washington and Idaho, Fast Undercar will prove to be a valuable member as the Network continues to strengthen its reach and recognition out West,” Lambert said. Fast Undercar was founded in Ventura by Bruce Douglass and Victor Davis in 1996. for reader service

Over the Counter By Jerry King


December 2013 | Counterman for reader service


Advance Auto Parts Rebrands eServices Unit As MOTOSHOP Technology Tools ROANOKE, Va. – Advance Auto Parts has rebranded the company’s eServices product portfolio. Effective immediately, Advance eServices will be known as MOTOSHOP Technology Tools. According to Advance, the brand change was made to highlight the company’s commitment to providing an innovative and shop-friendly customer experience through continued investment in product development, new technologies and customer service. “Providing reliable and easy-touse services is a major focus of how Advance seeks to partner above and beyond with our customers,” said Walter Scott, vice president of eCommerce and eServices for Advance Auto Parts. “The services available from MOTO-

SHOP Technology Tools will help a shop serve their customers better and manage their shop more efficiently, whether that’s through access to more comprehensive diagnostic information, the latest in interactive training platforms or a guaranteed shop marketing program. We want to help shops grow their business.” MOTOSHOP Technology Tools includes MotoLOGIC Repair & Diagnostics, MotoREV Shop Marketing, MotoSKILL Shop Tech Training and the soon-to-launch MotoSHOP Shop Management System. With flexible product offerings, automotive shops can choose from all of the above services, or just those that meet their unique needs.

Advance Auto Parts Reports

Third-Quarter Results for reader service

ROANOKE, Va. – Advance Auto Parts has announced its financial results for the third quarter ended Oct. 5. Third-quarter earnings per diluted share (EPS) were $1.42, which was a 17.4 percent increase versus the third quarter last year and includes 4 cents of transaction expenses related to the company’s pending acquisition of General Parts International Inc. (GPI) and 2 cents of integration expenses for BWP Distributors Inc. “Our sales grew 4.3 percent and operating income increased 13.5 percent in the third quarter compared to the third quarter of 2012. We are pleased with our profit improvement in consecutive quarters and remain cautious on the underlying sales environment,” said Darren Jackson, CEO. “We remain focused on improving our sales performance while making the necessary adjustments to our business to continue improving our profitability. Our recent announcement to acquire GPI is another strategic step forward for Advance as we look to accelerate our growth strategy and position Advance to capitalize on positive long-term fundamentals.” Fiscal Third-Quarter and Year-to-Date Highlights Total sales for the third quarter increased 4.3 percent to $1.52 billion, as compared with total sales during the third quarter of fiscal 2012 of $1.46 billion. The sales increase was driven by the acquisition of BWP and the net addition of 170 new stores over the past 12 months, partially offset by a comparable store sales decrease of 2.0 percent versus a comparable store sales decrease of 1.8 percent during the third quarter of fiscal 2012.


December 2013 | Counterman for reader service


Timken Wins Pronto Award For Top Category Management Solution for reader service

CANTON, Ohio — The Timken Co. recently received the top award for category management from National Pronto Association. Timken supplies Pronto with a full line of automotive aftermarket products, including Timken hub unit bearings, tapered roller bearings, grease and seals. “Demand Insight, the Timken category management system, is a quick and easy way for distributors to identify and stock an optimal inventory mix that corresponds with their local customers’ current and future demand,” said Tom Tecklenburg, director of commercial vehicle original equipment and the automotive aftermarket for


December 2013 | Counterman

Timken. “Our newly enhanced proprietary database identifies premium aftermarket demand for distributors based on local vehicle registrations, replacement rates, road conditions and more.” Timken introduced Demand Insight three years ago as part of a broad strategy to support its distributors with valuable programs and technology designed to help them grow sales and profits. To use the system, inventory managers enter relevant criteria, such as market area and estimated percentage of market share, to see the results, with the option of exporting the data to Microsoft Excel to analyze it further.

Epicor Parts Network Says It Is Helping Drive eCommerce Volume For Thousands Of Aftermarket Businesses DUBLIN, Calif. – Epicor Software Corp. has reported that its Epicor Parts Network, a broad portfolio of Web-based business-to-business (B2B) eCommerce solutions for automotive parts distributors and vehicle service providers, has helped more than 196,000 registered users conduct more than $1.7 billion in online parts transactions over the past year. This represents a 7-percent increase in Epicor-enabled B2B eCommerce sales since 2012. Epicor Parts Network comprises the Epicor Parts Network B2B eStore (formerly Internet AutoParts), Epicor Integrated Service Estimator (ISE) parts and labor estimating solution, and cloudbased Epicor Parts Network (formerly AConneX) parts trading solution. Together, these eCommerce tools connect approximately 26,000 auto parts distributor and jobber locations and more than 170,000 registered aftermarket service provider and dealership users. “Distributors, jobbers and service dealers continue to set new records each year for B2B eCommerce volume and value,” said Scott Thompson, vice president, automotive eCommerce for Epicor. “This growth is playing a vital role in keeping the aftermarket’s traditional channel healthy through increased efficiency, bay productivity and, ultimately, a superior consumer experience at the repair shop.” Established in 2000, Epicor Parts Network B2B eStore is integrated with virtually every major repair shop business management system, the company states, enabling shop users to quickly and easily find and order application parts for virtually any repair. for reader service


Raymond Guffey III, The 2013 Counter Professional of the Year Raymond Guffey III becomes Counterman’s 28th Counter Professional of the Year, sponsored by Affinia Group Inc., Raybestos Chassis and WIX Filters.

uffey is an operations manager for The Parts House in Jacksonville, Fla., a member of the Automotive Distribution Network, under the Parts Plus program.


Guffey and his wife, Jillian, received an all-expenses-paid trip in November to attend Automotive Aftermarket Industry Week. In addition, he was the guest of honor at Babcox Media’s special recognition dinner, The Night of Excellence, as well as recognition luncheons held by AWDA and

Northwood’s University of the Aftermarket. Guffey is the fourth Network Counter Professional of the Year recipient, joining Dennis Call (2005), Scott Flowers (2007) and Tom Dayton (2009), since 2005. “At the Network, we offer ongoing training programs to help

Raymond Guffey Photography by Bob Self for reader service

COVER STORY // Raymond Guffey III our professionals behind the counter develop their knowledge and expertise so they can outhustle and outperform the competition while reflecting well on the aftermarket as a whole,” said Mike Lambert, Network president. “Raymond has worked hard to hone his craft to complement his passion for cars and helping people. Along with our three past recipients of this prestigious honor, Raymond’s win is in-

dicative of our group’s commitment to providing consistent excellent service at our stores nationwide.” Mike Monahan, TPH’s regional vice president, compares Guffey to a first-round draft pick. “Raymond is my go-to guy,” Monahan said. “If I were starting a counter professional team, Guffey would be the employee I’d build everything around. He’s that good.” CM

Interview with Raymond Guffey III What first attracted you to automotive parts and the industry in general? While in high school, I took a half-day automotive technology program at the local community college. The teacher assigned the high school students to the task of ordering the automotive parts each morning for the college students performing the technician duties. It was here that I learned to love the automotive part industry. What experiences have you had serving customers that solidified in your mind that this is the career for you? I really enjoy the challenge of finding the hard-to-find or rare parts. Being able to reach out to our network of part suppliers and research parts that I don’t have knowledge about is fun for me. Calling the customer back and telling them that I will have their part ASAP and hearing their gratitude on the other end of the line is gratifying.

What makes a good counter professional? The consummate counter professional is able to pay attention to detail, proficiently relay part catalog information to the customer and is able to apply previous knowledge of situations to the current caller to quickly solve their parts needs.

Why did you decide to become ASE certified? ASE certification was important to me because I wanted my customers to know that I was qualified to handle all their needs. ASE certification is wellknown in our industry and customers have faith that I am knowledgeable about my profession. for reader service for reader service

COVER STORY // Counter Professional of the Year


Michael Watson Advance Auto Parts Anniston, Ala. was introduced/recruited into the Advance Auto Parts family by a trusted and respected friend, Stephen Dutton in 1994. He had recommended Advance as a great place to work with opportunities for advancement, and thought it would be a perfect “fit” for my background and interests. My background lies primarily with a love of motorcycles and cars, married with a nature of wanting to help people, so this has been an environment that has allowed me to experience daily triumphs and satisfaction helping people find the right solutions for their specific needs for almost 20 years now. for reader service



December 2013 | Counterman

I became ASE P2 certified originally to prove myself a worthy counter professional within our ranks and industry. I maintain my credentials now to promote trust and professionalism among my customers and peers, building their confidence in my abilities to understand and better serve their needs. I believe that the key to my personal success is focusing first on our customers, actively listening, clarifying the situation, and providing complete solutions that best fit his or her needs, all the while serving it with a genuine interest in their success and a “smile” that can be heard on the other end of the line. Truly successful counter pros are part of a cohesive team of successful people, without their support and focus we could not meet and exceed our customer’s expectations. I would like to recognize

Keaton Cain, Mike Watson, Terry Willingham and Megan Parris.

my team of professional mobile pros as a key part of our success.” Willie Brown, Advance Auto Parts district leader, said, “If there was a definition in the dictionary for parts pro, it would have a picture of Mike ‘Loki’ Watson beside it. Loki takes on 99 percent of all commercial phones and transactions that happen within the store. He does this by answering multiple phones at once by letting his customer know, ‘You’re number two. I have one ahead of you,’ and then sets the phone down so they can hear him on the other line and never puts them on hold.” CM

COVER STORY // Counter Professional of the Year

Jenn Daum K.O.I. Auto Parts Norwood, Ohio was first bitten by the “car bug” when I was about 12 and a family friend showed me how to change the spark plugs on a 1990 Mustang. Fastforward to July 2000, when a former colleague from a fast-lube convinced me to give the parts industry a shot. My passion for everything automotive blossomed and I soaked up everything I could about the industry lingo, components of various systems, and — my favorite part — how it all worked. I was hooked from the beginning! About one or two months after I first got my P2 certification, I had my first experience that affirmed my career path. It’s mostly a blur now, but I mostly recall that a gentleman had called and stated one need, then we worked through it until I helped him to realize that he was asking for the wrong part. I was the first person to take the time to help him to figure out the correct solution. He started out a bit leery of whether or not I could help him; he ended up telling me, “Wow, you REALLY know what you’re talking about.” He also wound up giving our store the sale, even though we were a touch higher on price than the competition. I’ve had a handful more of similar experiences since then, but that was my first. It was very affirming. A “good” counter professional will meet the stated needs of the customer, and do so efficiently, courteously and with gratitude. A “great” counterperson will take the extra time to satisfy the customer’s complete automotive parts needs — including those needs that aren’t necessarily mentioned, but should be anticipated. If a guy walks in asking for front


brake pads on his ‘97 F150, the “good” counterperson will present the available options, and possibly offer needed fluids; the “great” counter professional will do ALL of that, but also inquire about the current condition of the rotors, calipers, hoses, etc. It boils down to making sure the customer is ready to do the

complete repair after the first shopping trip. I am bilingual and have a growing Spanish-speaking base of clients. If I am with another customer and a peer has someone whose Spanish is stronger than their English, we often work out some sort of solution that benefits everyone.” CM for reader service



ECH FEATURE By Larry Carley, technical editor

Take Charge Of A/C p until the early 1990s, R12 refrigerant (Freon) was used in virtually all automotive A/C systems. It was an efficient refrigerant and relatively cheap. But the chlorine in R-12 was found to have a damaging effect on the earth’s protective ozone layer high in the atmosphere. So, starting in 1992, R12 was gradually phased out and replaced with a new ozone-safe (no chlorine) R-134a refrigerant. All cars and light trucks made since 1995 use R-134. Many older vehicles that were originally equipped with R-12 A/C systems have been converted (retrofitted) to R-134a or other “approved” alternative refrigerants when they needed major A/C repairs. In many instances, the conversion requires nothing more than a change of refrigerant and compressor oil. On others, it may require a different compressor, hoses and seals. Such conversions are mostly history now, so the major emphasis today is on A/C leak repairs that cause refrigerant loss. The refrigerant is the working fluid inside the A/C system. It provides a cooling effect when it changes “phase” and goes from a compressed high-pressure liquid to a low pressure vapor. The refrigerant is never used up but continually recycles inside a closed loop. It goes from the compressor to the condenser (the heat exchanger in front of the radiator that cools and condenses the refrigerant) to the evaporator (a second heat exchanger inside the HVAC unit where the refrigerant expands and cools air entering the passenger compartment), and



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then returns to the compressor to repeat the cycle over again. The refrigerant should last the life of the vehicle, but over time, small amounts of refrigerant can escape from the system by seeping past compressor seals and hose connections. Leaks also may develop in the evaporator or condenser that allow refrigerant to escape. When the refrigerant charge gets low, it causes a drop in cooling performance. If too much refrigerant is lost, the A/C won’t cool at all. The fix for poor cooling performance is to recharge the A/C system by adding refrigerant through the low-pressure service port on the suction hose that goes to the compressor while the engine is idling. The amount of refrigerant in the system is critical. It requires just the right amount of refrigerant: not too much and not too little. Most newer vehicles use a much lower refrigerant charge than older vehicles – as little as a pound or less in some applications. Prior to recharging the A/C system with refrigerant, any leaks in the system should be found and fixed using UV leak detection dye or an electronic leak detector. Also, if an A/C system has been opened to replace components (such as a compressor, hoses, condenser, accumulator or evaporator), the system must be purged of air using a high-vacuum pump before any refrigerant is added otherwise air will displace refrigerant resulting in poor cooling performance and noise. Residual moisture in the system also can form corrosive acids that can lead to component failures down the road. Vacuum purging removes the

moisture along with the air. On older, high-mileage vehicles, the accumulator or receiver/drier should also be replaced to protect against moisture contamination. Customers who are buying refrigerant may also need compressor oil. Different A/C systems require different types of PAG oil. Using the wrong oil may cause compressor problems, so be sure your customer gets the correct PAG oil for their vehicle. In the years ahead, a new refrigerant called HFO-1234yf will gradually replace R-134a in new vehicles. There are only a couple of applications now but more are on the way. The new refrigerant’s cooling performance is similar to R-134a but it has a much lower Global Warming Potential (4 versus 1400 for R-134a) making it much more environmentally friendly. CM for reader service


ECH FEATURE By Larry Carley, technical editor

Ceramic Takes Center Stage he first ceramic brake pads appeared way back in 1985 on a few OEM applications. Over the years, the use of ceramic-based disc brake pads has grown to the point where it is now the most common friction material on both domestic and import vehicles. There is no standard definition of what exactly constitutes a ceramic brake pad except that it contains some amount of ceramic fiber. Ceramic brake pads can be made using a variety of silica-based fibers and particles. The size of the fibers or particles may range from 0.4 to as much as 80 microns in diameter (smaller is better say some brake manufacturers). The ceramic powders are mixed with resins and other ingredients, then molded into pucks that are baked at high temperature in an oven to produce brake pads. Ceramic friction compounds have stable and predictable friction characteristics. The coefficient of friction does not drop off as quickly as semi-metallics, nor does it fade as quickly as nonasbestos organic compounds as the brakes heat up. This is called “Mu Variability.” The more stable the friction characteristics are, the more consistent the brake pedal feels whether the brakes are hot or cold. Ceramic fibers also don’t “ring” like steel fibers, so there’s almost no brake noise. And the dust ceramic pads give off is almost invisible, eliminating the ugly black dust that is common with many original equipment European brake pads. Recently, some friction suppliers for reader service



December 2013 | Counterman

have reformulated their ceramic brake pads to reduce the amount of copper in the friction material. Some friction compounds may contain up to 20 percent copper, which acts as a friction modifier in conjunction with other materials to reduce noise and improve stopping power, fade resistance and wear. But copper can be toxic to fish and other marine life when brake dust from nearby roads washes off into streams and lakes. California and Washington have passed legislation that requires a gradual phase down of copper in brake pads. California’s new lowcopper rules call for brake suppliers to reduce the copper content of their brake pads to less than 5 percent (by weight) by 2021, and no more than 0.5 percent copper by 2025. Several other states (Hawaii, New York, Oregon and Rhode Island) are considering similar rules). Some brake suppliers have already introduced new low-copper ceramic brake pads that meet the upcoming requirements. Some of these new friction compounds also deliver even better braking performance than most of today’s existing ceramic compounds, including quieter braking (up to 35 percent quieter), reduced fade resistance (up to 40 percent better) and shorter stopping distances (up to 15 percent better). Ceramic pads are a good upgrade opportunity, and can be recommended for vehicles that have noise, dusting or pad life concerns. As for vehicles that were originally equipped with ceramic pads, always replace same with same. CM for reader service



By Larry Carley, technical editor

CV Joints Take A Pounding hough rear-wheel drive remains the drivetrain layout for pickup trucks and most sports coupes and sedans, front-wheel drive (FWD) is the most common layout for the majority of passenger cars, minivans and crossover vehicles (CUVs). One of the requirements of FWD is that the axle shafts (called “halfshafts”) have inboard and outboard “constant velocity” (CV) joints. CV joints allow the shaft to rotate at a constant speed regardless of the joint angle. Ordinary universal joints (U-joints) can’t do that because as the angle of the joint increases, so does the speed of the shaft causing annoying vibrations. Also, the outer joints have to provide up to 45 degrees of movement so the front wheels can be steered. U-joints can’t handle that much deflection. CV joints are capable of lasting upward of 150,000 miles with normal driving. But, if the protective rubber or plastic boot that surrounds the joint cracks, tears or comes loose because of a broken boot clamp, the CV joint is at severe risk of failing. A boot leak allows grease to escape and outside contaminants to enter the joint. This may damage or destroy the joint within a few hundred to a few thousand miles. So it is important to inspect CV joint boots regularly and to replace any boots or boot clamps that are damaged, leaking or missing ASAP! The classic symptom of a worn outer CV joint is a clicking or popping noise when turning. The joint usually remains silent when for reader service



December 2013 | Counterman

driving straight ahead. Worn inner CV joints typically produce a “clunk” or shudder when the transaxle is put into gear or when the vehicle is starting out from a stop. Worn inner joints also can cause driveline vibrations that come and go at various speeds. If a CV joint is making noise or vibrations, it is worn or damaged and needs to be replaced. If a boot has failed and the joint is still silent, it may only need a new boot — provided the grease inside still feels smooth and has not been contaminated. CV joints can be disassembled for inspection, but doing so requires removing the halfshaft, removing the joint from the shaft, taking it apart and cleaning it to inspect the balls, cage and races for wear or damage. If it only needs a boot, make sure the joint is packed with CV grease, never ordinary chassis grease. If a CV joint has failed, you can offer your customer several options: a new or remanufactured replacement CV joint, or a complete halfshaft assembly with new or reman joints on the ends. Shafts are by far the most preferred repair method because shafts are much faster and easier to install than individual CV joints. There also is less chance of a comeback with a preassembled shaft. DIY customers who are replacing a CV joint or halfshaft will usually need some type of hub puller to separate the outer end of the CV joint and shaft from the steering knuckle. CM for reader service


ECH FEATURE By Larry Carley, technical editor

Engine Sensors Keep Everything In Check ngine sensors provide inputs for the Powertrain Control Module (PCM) so the engine computer can manage the fuel mixture, spark timing, emission functions and other control functions that are necessary to operate a modern vehicle. Without accurate inputs, the PCM can’t do its job, and engine performance, fuel economy and emissions will suffer. Sensors are monitored by the for reader service



December 2013 | Counterman

Onboard Diagnostic (OBD II) system, which will usually set a code and turn on the Check Engine light when a sensor problem or failure occurs. Here are a few key sensors: ● Coolant sensor — Usually located near the thermostat housing, it monitors engine coolant temperature so the PCM can change the fuel mixture and idle speed as the engine warms up. It’s input may also control

the operation of the radiator cooling fan. ● Oxygen sensors — Located in the exhaust manifold(s), the O2 sensor provides a rich/lean air/fuel mixture feedback signal for the PCM so the fuel mixture can be adjusted for lowest emissions and optimum fuel economy. On V6, V8 and V10 engines, there is usually one O2 sensor in each cylinder bank. On most four and straight six engines, there is usual-

(and pressure on engines that are turbocharged or supercharged) so the PCM can determine engine load. ● Crank Position Sensor (CKP) — Located on the front or back of the engine, or in the side of the engine

block, it monitors the relative position of the crankshaft for spark timing and injector timing. It is also used by the OBD II system to detect engine misfires. A bad crank sensor may prevent the engine from starting. CM for reader service

ly only one O2 sensor (unless the exhaust manifold is split into two parts). A “downstream” O2 sensor located in or behind the catalytic converter monitors catalyst efficiency and assists with long-term fuel trim. Many late-model engines use a more sophisticated “wide ratio” O2 sensor (Air/Fuel sensor) that provides a more exact indication of the air/fuel mixture for better fuel control. Oxygen sensors age and may become sluggish or contaminated, causing a drop in fuel economy and an increase in emissions. ● Mass Airflow Sensor (MAF) — Located between the air filter housing and throttle, this sensor measures the volume of air entering the engine so the PCM can vary the air/fuel mixture. Problems here include air leaks that allow unmeasured air to bypass the sensor, or surface contaminants that make the sensor sluggish or read low. Cleaning a MAF sensor with aerosol electronics cleaner can sometimes restore normal operation. ● Throttle Position Sensor (TPS) — Mounted on the throttle body, this sensor monitors the position of the throttle shaft so the PCM knows when the engine is at idle (for idle speed control) and when it is accelerating (for fuel enrichment) or decelerating (to cut fuel delivery for better economy). The sensor also may be used to provide feedback for the electronic throttle control system. A bad TPS sensor may cause a flat spot or hesitation when accelerating, or cause idle or throttle control problems. ● Manifold Absolute Pressure (MAP) Sensor — Usually located on the intake manifold (or attached to the manifold by a hose), this sensor measures intake vacuum 35


ECHANIC CONNECTION By Gary Goms, commercial accounts editor

The Benefits of ASE Certification With ASE, we have only to look forward to a brighter and more prosperous future. s with many mechanics and parts professionals, I’m getting ready to sign up for ASE’s spring 2014 test series. Looking back, it’s hard to believe that ASE is now 41 years old. During 1973, when I was teaching auto mechanics at my local community college, ASE was known as the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (NIASE). I passed my first four Aseries mechanic certifications to become a “single-gear” mechanic in 1973. We also, at that time, began incorporating ASE certification preparation classes into our auto mechanics program. In 1974, I passed the remaining four A-series certifications to become a “doublegear” Certified General Auto Mechanic. Since 1974, I’ve added the Advanced Engine Performance L1 certification to my resume. I opened my first shop in 1977 and, a few years later, I trained my two young mechanics to pass their Certified Master Auto Mechanic certifications. During the late 1980s, I also became a member of the Colorado Automotive Service Association (ASA-CO) and returned to college to finish my bachelor’s degree in occupational education. ASA-CO was, of course, an active supporter of what had now become ASE by actively promoting ASE (as it should) at all of our trade shows and consumer affairs activities. To my surprise, my ASE Certified Master Auto Technician (CMAT) certifi- for reader service



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cation counted as 32 credit hours toward my college graduation requirements. In 1998, I was requested to participate in an ASE A-8 Engine Performance certification workshop, which was a unique and edifying experience for a small shop owner like me. And, just a year later, I wrote the engine performance section of an automotive textbook for a large publishing company. One of the most challenging tasks of that assignment was to incorporate ASE’s National Automotive Technician’s Education Foundation (NATEF) Task List into the text and workbooks. So, it’s fair to say that, as a participant, I’ve gained many positive experiences over the years working with ASE. Change The only constant in our technologically driven world is change. Prior to 1972, when ASE began testing mechanics, most shops would see a customer’s vehicle about three to four times per year for lubrication, adjustments and routine repairs like tune-ups brake service and exhaust replacements. In 1973, Chrysler Corp. introduced electronic ignition systems into their production vehicles. In 1974, catalytic converters were mandated for all passenger cars and light trucks sold in the United States. In 1982, all passenger cars and light trucks incorporated electronic engine management and on-board diagnostic systems. In 1996, the federally mandated and standardized On Board

ASE Highlights As technology grew, so did ASE. To deal with the sophisticated on-board electronics being introduced during the mid-1990s, ASE created the L1 certification, which tests the knowledge-intensive skills required to diagnose complex pow-

er train and body control electronics. And, because parts distribution has become increasingly complex, ASE initiated the “P” series Parts Specialist testing. Since the current automotive service market is becoming more maintenance-based, ASE has now created the G1 Auto Maintenance and Light Repair Certification test for technicians working in quick-service shops. More complete information about ASE certification can be found at the website. ASE Issues During the 1970s and 1980s, many technicians believed that ASE would eliminate incompetent tech-

nicians, increase compensation and improve working conditions. Of course, if we follow professional forums like the International Automotive Technician’s Network (iATN), we know that many of these problems are still with us. And we also know that, in many localities, the Great Recession of 2008 has worsened these very problems. Unfortunately, many technicians feel that ASE should directly address these and many other problems afflicting the automotive service industry. Of course, this column represents only my personal opinion. But ASE is essentially a non-profit organization whose scope of operations is confined to testing and certifying the competency of automotive pro- for reader service

Diagnostics II (OBD II) were introduced on all passenger cars and light trucks sold in the United States. Today, electronic body control systems are standard equipment with most average vehicles containing at least six modules and luxury vehicles containing nearly 80 modules that perform many formerly manual functions like unlocking the doors and operating exterior lighting. 37

MECHANIC CONNECTION for reader service


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fessionals. We therefore shouldn’t confuse the roles of ASE with those of the Automotive Service Association (ASA) and other trade associations. While ASE provides competency testing, ASA and similar organizations are geared toward addressing industry issues like shop and mechanic licensing, business and personnel management and creating a more positive public image for our industry. Both efforts deserve our wholehearted support. Other issues concern the testing methods used by ASE to certify competency. Many technicians claim that a hands-on test would better represent a technician’s working knowledge. Speaking as a former educator and as one who has taken both hands-on and multiple-choice tests, I believe that the multiplechoice test wins hands-down. The efficacy of hands-on testing is obviously limited by the technician’s familiarity with the tooling and with the vehicle application. A Volvo technician, for example, might experience difficulties diagnosing a Chevrolet check engine light problem because the real-world tooling and vehicle configurations can be markedly different. The other, and most important, issue with handson testing is how effectively it measures the technician’s skills in solving abstract problems. With hands-on testing, the technician must diagnose an actual vehicle, with which he might not be familiar, whereas multiple-choice testing allows the test writers the luxury of designing a “composite” vehicle that represents the most common aspects of current automotive design. Again, speaking as a former educator, multiple-choice tests can be designed to ask questions and therefore test skills in a more strategic manner than does hands-on. On a more real-world level, most of us know some very strategic questions that we might ask a job applicant during a job interview. If that person has the appropriate knowledge

and experience, he will reply to each specific question with the desired answer. Last and most important, a multiple-choice test lends itself very well to forming a test bank of questions dealing with the same content, but stated in different ways. This allows the test writer to reduce the probability of cheating by composing multiple versions of the same test. It also allows the test writer to “finetune” the test bank by using statistical analysis to verify the effectiveness and technical validity of each test question. The test also can be easily updated, question-byquestion, to meet current technical standards. While it’s entirely possible that, while a small minority of mechanics might be better test-takers than they are mechanics, the overall validity of the ASE test series is difficult to challenge. The ASE Yardstick One constant in the automotive service industry is the need for establishing a threshold standard for measuring auto mechanic competencies. Since 1972, that standard has been the ASE certification tests. Of course, auto manufacturers often require application-specific testing for their technician to ensure the service-ready status needed to perform new vehicle warranty repairs. But the limitations of application-specific testing are obvious due to these competencies not readily transferring to other nameplates and systems. At the personal level, I sincerely believe that ASE provides the “yardstick” we need to establish at least one standard we need to make our automotive service industry more professional and more responsive to advancing technology. Without ASE, we’ve returned to the dark days of 1971, when we lived in a “Tower of Babel” regarding technical competency. With ASE, we have only to look forward to a brighter and more prosperous future. CM for reader service


BPI Unveils Enhanced Hybrid Technology Braking Innovation At AAPEX for reader service

McHENRY, Ill. – Brake Parts Inc., the makers of Raybestos brand brakes, recently introduced its Enhanced Hybrid Technology (EHT) to the braking world at AAPEX, held last month in Las Vegas. In 1982, BPI introduced non-asbestos (NAO) and semi-metallic disc formulas for the aftermarket. In 1998, the company introduced its first ceramic formulation. “This is a real game-changer for the aftermarket,” said David Overbeeke, president and CEO of BPI. “Element3 brake pads with EHT give


December 2013 | Counterman

our customers a real selling advantage in an increasingly competitive marketplace.” Enhanced Hybrid Technology combines the best attributes of ceramic and semi-metallic into one brake pad formulation, according to BPI. Ceramic formulations are a popular choice among technicians and DIYers given their reputation for quiet operation and performance. At the same time, semi-metallic formulations deliver better wear and durability – especially in severe use and high-heat environments.

As popular as ceramic pads have become, they are not perfect for every application, BPI says. For example, some ceramic pad formulations are prone to rust jacking on the inboard side of the rotor, especially in the snow and salt belts of U.S. and Canada. In addition, ceramic formulations have a high copper content – as much as 20 to 25 percent in some pads. This is an issue since all brake pads must contain less than 5 percent copper by 2021, to comply with the mandated copper reduction legislation, and .5 percent by 2025. To address some of these issues, and to meet the upcoming copper compliance legislation, BPI took on the challenge of developing new brake pad formulations. After more than two years in development, BPI has released what it says is the world’s first Enhanced Hybrid Technology brake pad, the Element3. Overbeeke said, “EHT exceeds our performance expectations at every level. The quiet operation, cleaner wheels and improved stopping power are amazing. You can really feel the difference.” Element3 includes extensive coverage for passenger cars, SUVs and light trucks, according to BPI, with concentration in applications 10 years old or newer. The product line is enhanced with an exclusive Quiet Steel shim for additional noise damping and quieter operation, the company states. And, for a complete repair, hardware is included on a majority of applications; ensuring the brake pad installation is done right. for reader service


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888-536-1438 for reader service



Are You Ready For This? ecently during a trip to Nashville, I had the opportunity to visit the North American headquarters of Nissan. When I first approached the building, it seemed normal enough to me. Of course, I spent 28 years driving up to an automaker and believe it or not, they are not all that different. But wait — something here seemed very different. A bunch of vehicles were all lined up under a carport area out front. All the cars were basically the same except for the color. The one odd thing was that each of them had a big fat electrical cord plugged into the hood. Of course, this is not really that astonishing. They were all Nissan Leafs and were being charged. I guess what was so out of the normal plane for me was to see them en masse. It was like an electrical gas station of sorts. Upon arrival inside the building, I was told that that was provided for the employees as a benefit for those who chose to drive a Leaf. Pretty nice perk, if you ask me. I have not had a job for quite awhile that provided me with free fill-ups. I also noticed another strange thing at the front of the building. There were these pull-up charging stations available. They were for visiting Nissan Leaf owners who needed a

R A bunch of vehicles were all lined up under a carport area out front. All the cars were basically the same...The one odd thing was that each of them had a big fat electrical cord plugged into the hood.

quick boost. I was told that during weekends, retail owners were known and allowed to stop by for a charge while shopping. Wait, what? Now that’s what I call a surprise and delight for the end-user. That would really enhance an owner’s experience if that was available in their area. We are in a highly competitive market that has technology and change coming at us at the speed of light. We’re expected to stay ahead of that technology and be the source for the parts and the information. This is a huge undertaking. But, what about the surprise and delight? Prices will only get to a certain level and will no longer be a differentiator. The successful companies our world will be the ones that can set themselves apart from the rest. What strategy will your organization use? Information, training, cataloging, ease of ordering? We better have something up our sleeve. It will be our future. Start thinking about how your organization can set itself apart from the competition. Truly the leaves are turning. Those of us here at Counterman magazine wish all of you a happy and prosperous new year and thank for being a loyal reader. CM

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For more information: 44

December 2013 | Counterman for reader service


OUNTER-TECH By Mandy Aguilar

Sensor Not Included recently returned from Industry Week in Las Vegas, ready to share all the new technology on display at AAPEX. But, my dear readers, we are going to hold back on that column until next month. If you allow me, I’d like to talk to you about a topic that’s a lot closer to home. This year’s pilgrimage to Vegas was a way for me to truly network with peers and colleagues. Networking is always a big part of any trade show; heck, oftentimes it’s the only reason worth going. For us, the networking usually starts months before the show as our team, spread throughout Florida and Puerto Rico, plows through several conference calls and countless emails to create our “Vegas Agenda” (a truly collabora-

I for reader service

Amazingly, or perhaps not, not one person in the room knew what Raymond was talking about...


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tive document that we all share using Google Docs, so every member of the team is on the same page). This shared document is a thing of beauty! A road map, wish list and cheat sheet, all rolled into one, which allows us to digest and process every one of our 50-plus scheduled meetings at AWDA and AAPEX. Because we value our time in Vegas, as well as our vendors’ time, this shared agenda makes us a better team. At a very personal level, those conversations with our various vendors and partners lead to some of the most rewarding on-the-job experiences we’ve ever had; a true testament to the power of face-to-face communication. Yes, the meetings can be rewarding, but they can also be a drag. This year, however, we had a very special treat as one of our own, Raymond Guffey, was honored as 2013 Counter Professional of the Year. This is perhaps one of our industry’s highest recognitions, awarded by this fine publication and sponsored by the folks at Affinia. We are very lucky to count Raymond in our ranks and congratulate him on this most wonderful achievement. It was Raymond’s first opportunity to attend Industry Week, and we were delighted to have the coolest kid in the class hang with us at the show! Raymond joined us at AWDA. For a guy who’s never been in those meetings, he took to it like fish to water, sharing and opining up like a CEO. So there we were, an already well-prepared team made even better by riding with the Counter Professional of the Year, taking names and making deals! On that second day at AWDA, meetings started rolling into one another. At times you can’t recall if you are talking to a brake guy or a chassis conglomerate. It’s time to dig deep, recall that agenda prepared months in advance and plow, plow, plow your way through the end of the day. Finally, our very last meeting rolled in at 5 p.m. Agenda or not, we were down for the count. As we slumped our beaten bodies and drained minds on the Venetian suite in the last room of the unend-

ing hallway in the 19th floor, it happened: Mr. Counter Professional of the Year gave us all a lesson in why having exceptional humans like him in all of our companies is essential to our survival. We were sitting with one of our great vendor partners, a company that has gone the extra mile to help us grow while making friendships with everyone in our team. The conversation soon rolled into the vendor’s frustration of being seen as an import-only supplier, when in reality they produce and market lots of domestic applications. Sometimes customers’ perception is everything, and being boxed-in as import-only, engine specialist, dealer expediter, or any other misplaced label is almost impossible to overcome, no matter how hard you work at it. We were talking about an A/C compressor application for a domestic vehicle. Turns out their application its less expensive than the OE offering, with the same fit and function. That’s when Raymond chimed in like the counter pro that he is: “It’s not only that your price is better, but do you know about the missing sensor?” Raymond’s question

thundered through the room waking everyone up. Amazingly, or perhaps not, not one person in the room knew what Raymond was talking about; not the guys who build the part, nor the guys who distribute it. Turns out that A/C compressor requires an extra sensor in the back and you cannot reuse the old one. The OE offering does not include the sensor and you cannot buy it from the OE replacement channels; it’s only available at the dealer. It adds a trip to the dealer and another $28 bucks to an already expensive repair; however, unbeknownst to all, this vendor’s application includes the sensor, for free! It was a jaw-dropping epic moment when Raymond got through his deeply knowledgeable product sales pitch. Without another the word, the meeting was adjourned in unison and we all fought each other to buy Raymond’s first drink. In that unexpected instant, we were all reminded that people are our most powerful asset. Find great people, then nurture and prize them, and who knows, you too might one day be able to say that the Counter Professional of the Year works with you! CM

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Visit Mandy’s blog:

Mandy Aguilar is a regional vice president for Jacksonville, Fla.-based The Parts House.

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LLEN & ALLAN By Allen Markowitz & Allan Gerber

Counter Pros Need Training, Too! echnology — it is all around us. We read about it every day and spend untold thousands on it, but even with all of our knowledge and best efforts, we are missing an important mark. We are not providing enough training for our industry’s greatest assets — counter professionals. Yes, we invest in upgrades to our computer systems; we now have connectivity to our customers via the Web or manufacturers links. The Internet is playing a larger role in parts sales. There are numerous apps and texting to keep in touch, but we are overlooking the necessary human factor, which is still a key component in our everyday business. None of this actually replaces a well-trained counter professional. While we make huge efforts to train our technician customers on today’s modern automotive systems, there is very little training going on within our own organizations — especially for the counter professional. Do not underestimate how important a well-trained counter professional is to the bottom line. I will admit this is somewhat of a new concept. We never needed formal training for the counter professional — they learned the business from a mentor and usually were ready when the customers accepted them or asked for them by name. But times have changed. There were no cell phone distractions. People were more polite and most actually cared about what they were doing. I recently gave a presentation to a national group of jobber marketing managers and heard over and over, “Our counterpros could use some training.” We also recently met with several large jobbers on just this very topic. Their concerns were that many of today’s counter professionals lack phone skills, sometimes common courtesy, and the


There are numerous apps and texting to keep in touch, but we are overlooking the necessary human factor, which is still a key component in our everyday business.

Allen Markowitz and Allan Gerber operate Auto Biz Solutions, which provides training, marketing, management and business consulting services to both the automotive jobber and independent repair shop.


December 2013 | Counterman

understanding that they are there to make a sale — not just to give a price. One owner actually said some counter professionals simply do not care. Understand that in no way does this diminish the incredible knowledge, value and professionalism that many of today’s counter professionals exhibit daily. We are not simply looking at a counter professional’s knowledge. Today, with all of the mergers and acquisitions going on, there seems to be a culture disconnect. We see jobbers with good solid cultures acquiring stores where there was either a lack of discipline or this training simply did not exist. We see multi-location operations where the phones are answered differently, the methods of asking for the sale have not been instilled or a new larger company culture has not been explored. In meetings with several multi-store jobbers recently, they expressed exactly these issues. Each one was looking for a better method of counter professional training. They took the huge first step in realizing that this problem does exist and that something has to be done about it. Like anything else that requires an ongoing effort, this takes time and a commitment by management. When this training is correctly implemented, the jobber will have a template that can then be used for new hires over and over again. Undoubtedly, the endresults include a happier workplace, additional sales and an increased bottom line. We precede this training with a mystery shopper program, which opens the eyes of management as to many of the areas that need to be addressed. Albert Einstein has been quoted as saying, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” That may be true. But it doesn’t have to be that way. CM

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Counterman, December 2013