What does the new year hold? We’re starting 2018 by getting the lowdown on the automotive aftermarket for the year ahead through the eyes and ears of aftermarket leaders.
Here’s our Q&A with Rusty Bishop, CEO of Federated Auto Parts.
CM: What’s your gut feeling about the outlook for 2018?
RB: While 2017 was a challenging year for some aftermarket companies, our members enjoyed improvement throughout the year with promising results heading into 2018. We feel this will continue into the new year, as trends point to above-average growth in the DIFM professional service sector. Federated is well-positioned for growth in the DIFM market, from national accounts to independent repair shops. Our focus on providing premium, name-brand products serves us well in this environment. Programs like the Federated Car Care Center program and The Group Training Academy continue to grow in popularity because they provide our service provider customers with effective ways to communicate with their customers, stay up-to-date on product and service training and compete more successfully in their local markets. All in all, we have a positive outlook for 2018.
CM: What legislative/legal issues could have the most impact on the automotive aftermarket and/or your operation in 2018?
RB: Obviously, we would like to see fuel prices remain at the levels they are today, but protecting consumers’ rights to choose where they have their vehicles repaired and leveling the playing field for local independent repair shops remain paramount. The vehicle repair marketplace is more complex than ever before with new and evolving vehicle technologies continuously introduced. While these advancements in technology provide many benefits, they also present challenges and opportunities for the aftermarket. At the end of the day, it is our hope that legislators at the federal, state and local levels keep in mind that the independent aftermarket provides valuable service to the motoring public and will continue to do so if provided the opportunity.
Editor’s note: This Q&A is part of the “Crystal Ball 2018” aftermarket forecast that appears in the January 2018 issue of Counterman.