Counterman’s sister publication, AMN, recently sat down with Bill Hanvey, who recently took over as president and CEO of the Auto Care Association in December, following the retirement of longtime leader Kathleen Schmatz. Hanvey lets us in on a few of his priorities for the association in 2016 and beyond.
Bill, we’ve known each other for a number of years now – first during your time on the supplier side with the likes of Dorman and Schaeffler, and now as an association leader. What strengths and skills do you feel your various industry roles up to this point will help you most in your new role as CEO of the Auto Care Association?
I have been fortunate enough to work for some outstanding companies during my career and the knowledge I have acquired in my various roles has well prepared me for my current position. I look back to my days as a field representative (longingly sometimes) where I learned the value of listening to the customer and conveying benefits. My days in the field also reinforced the respect I have for the independent shop owner and our association’s role in guaranteeing their access to vehicle data. My product management years gave me an appreciation for detail, the use of data to reinforce my daily activities, how to appropriately price a product or service, and most importantly, the confidence to make a decision.
In various leadership roles I learned the value of brand, how to manage and develop people (my favorite part of the job), effects of improperly thought-out regulation on our industry and the importance of collaboration. There are many more, but the message is that I have taken advantage of the learning opportunities (both good and bad) during my career, culminating in my current role. I am positive there will be additional things to learn and the opportunity to pass along my past experiences to our next generation of leadership.
What is first on your agenda as you settle in to your new role?
My first priority was to develop a relationship with the association staff and for them to understand my leadership style. Each day, I am amazed at the dedication, intelligence and ability of the Auto Care team to identify opportunity and threats within our industry and to develop the tools necessary for our members to adapt. I was fortunate enough to have had a relationship with many of the staff through my engagement as an association member and committee chairman, which gave me the opportunity to look at the association from the member’s point of view.
What are the key legislative issues the association will be focusing on in 2016?
The association’s main priority this year will be to obtain either a negotiated settlement with vehicle manufacturers or legislation that will ensure that the independent auto care industry has access to embedded telematics systems. This will likely be a multi-year effort. We also expect to address issues related to vehicle cyber security and software copyright that could threaten our full access to on-board diagnostic systems. On the state level, the association is supporting legislation that will ensure motorists are aware when they purchase a new car that they are legally able to obtain maintenance outside the dealer network. The state bills are modeled after legislation enacted in Connecticut last year, which requires all new car purchasers to receive a written notice of their rights under the Federal Magnuson Moss Warranty Act.
Finally, the association is working toward enactment of legislation that would modernize the Toxic Substances Control Act. The bill, which could provide for preemption of the growing patchwork of state laws on toxic substances, is currently the subject of negotiations to work out differences between the House and Senate passed versions before it can be sent to the President for his signature.
These issues and many more require a common voice to the states and [the]federal government, and we are working closely with other associations to approach these issues as a unified front.
What are you hearing from members as their biggest concerns and challenges for the industry today and how can the Auto Care Association support them?
The original equipment carmakers continually challenge the independent aftermarket on many fronts. Telematics and the right to access vehicle data is obviously the biggest challenge, but their restrictive terms and conditions with parts manufacturers threaten the availability of these parts in the independent supply chain. These issues along with the increasingly aggressive dealership initiatives on parts and service will require the association to provide the advocacy and education at the consumer and industry levels. The availability of technical and business training is critical to the success of our entire supply chain and we will continue to expand our own educational offerings as well as partnering with other associations to ensure we meet the needs of the market now and in the future.
While we are on the topic of the future, we must ensure that the next generation of leadership has the tools (and mentoring) they need to advance the independent auto care industry. We continue to invest in, and expand our Young Auto Care Network Group (YANG) committee, which has now grown to more than 600 members. YANG offers the opportunity for those under 40 years old to network, share best practices and develop a support system to ensure our future.
The automotive aftermarket has significantly evolved over the past decade with major consolidation within the U.S. distribution segment, the increasing presence of private equity on the supplier side, not to mention things like connected car technology and globalization. In your mind’s eye, what does the future of the automotive aftermarket look like to you – five years, 10 years, even 20 years down the road?
I see the entire supply chain becoming more efficient through the effective use of data. We are now able to deliver a part in 30 minutes or less, which is a vast improvement over the “we’ll have it for you tomorrow” principle from when I first started. Predictive analytics and the “Internet of Things” will enable motorists to schedule an appointment and have the part waiting for them as the part will communicate to the motorist it is about to fail or is worn beyond capacity. The waste of inventory returns and preventable warranty will be reduced and DOH (days on hand) inventories will be reduced, saving manufacturers and distributors hundreds of millions of dollars.
The availability of this data is obviously critical to our success. We now live in a global economy and as “developing” nations increase their vehicle parc there is tremendous opportunity not only for the light vehicle aftermarket, but also commercial and off-highway as they develop their infrastructure. Adoption of cataloging standards (ACES/PIES) and structuring adaptive databases to look up a part will be instrumental in the success of these markets.
Another shift, especially in urban environments, is the use of car share and “ride for hire” services. While these vehicles will need to be maintained, car ownership as we know it will dramatically change and the service of these fleets will be done more on a contractual basis through national repair chains.
The Auto Care Association is well-positioned to meet these shifts now and in the future by providing market intelligence, education, advocacy and the tools our members require to grow their respective businesses. I am truly honored to be leading the association in this time of change and look forward to increasing our value to our membership and the industry as a whole.