In our 2019 Midyear Distribution Update in the June issue of Counterman, aftermarket leaders reflect on their first-half successes and look ahead to second-half opportunities.
Here’s our Q&A with Rusty Bishop, CEO of Federated Auto Parts:
CM: We’re at the halfway point of 2019. Could you reflect on Federated’s accomplishments and highlights from the first half of the year?
RB: Federated has experienced many accomplishments in the first half of 2019, so I’ll focus on a few highlights, most notably our combined national meeting with Pronto, which saw record attendance and participation. It was a huge success. The meeting included a vendor-expo event that was well-received by both members and supplier partners in attendance, who had more time to meet and interact due to their requests for an expanded schedule.
During the meeting, new programs were introduced for the coming year and we had the opportunity to share best practices and learn about programs and technology that can improve business productivity and profitability. For example, we announced enhancements to the Federated Car Care Center program designed to provide Federated service-provider customers with additional effective tools to promote and enhance their businesses. With these additions, we believe the Federated Car Care Center program is the most complete support program for automotive service providers in the auto care industry.
Because training and technical knowledge are critical to success in our industry, one of our combined goals this year is to improve the offerings available through The Group Training Academy. With the addition of exclusive content and more monthly webinars, The Group Training Academy is the premier online training resource available in the industry. We are offering a special rate to our customers to encourage usage so they can experience all the benefits The Group Training Academy has to offer.
Last, but definitely not least, is the ongoing success of the member-owned Co-Man operation. Co-Man sets us apart in the industry, and so far in 2019, we are shipping at record levels that we expect to continue through the remainder of the year.
CM: What kinds of challenges and opportunities are you seeing in aftermarket distribution this year?
RB: The uncertainty of tariffs continues to play a major role in our decision-making process, and we foresee that they will continue to be a challenge for members and suppliers. We have been managing the situation well, and the Co-Man operation provides us with some defense against their impact. However, we expect that some of our vendors will be challenged with order fill and how they manage the logistics of getting their products to our members.
This year we are continuing catalog integration with shops’ and members’ systems and working to expand the use of the of I-Pro inventory-management system for added efficiency at all stages of inventory management.
CM: What’s on Federated’s agenda for the second half of the year?
RB: Our primary mission is to continue to help our members increase sales and grow their businesses. We work closely with each member to ensure they have the necessary tools to be successful and have the support they need to conduct programs and serve their Car Care Center customers.
One current area of focus for Federated is to help our membership participate in the government bid process to grow their businesses. We have initiated a program that will help them take advantage of these opportunities and streamline the bidding process.
Everyone at Federated is looking forward to the annual Federated Auto Parts 400. This year the race will be held on Sept. 21 at Richmond Raceway. Race weekend is a fun event where members, customers and vendor partners have a chance to interact in a relaxed atmosphere, talk some business and enjoy an exciting night of racing.
CM: Anything you’d like to add?
RB: We are very proud that Federated has been named a “Three-Star Partner” by the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program. Since we initiated the Federated Toys for Tots program in 2012, we have raised over $2.5 million for this worthy cause. Federated members continue to raise money and collect toys each holiday season, actions that reflect the generosity and commitment of our members to Toys for Tots.
As a Gold Lifetime Trustee, Federated is committed to supporting the mission of the University of the Aftermarket Foundation to fund scholarships and educational programs that strengthen the aftermarket. In addition, Federated members and staff are actively involved in many industry organizations and initiatives, including groups like YANG and of course, AWDA. We are proud that our group recognizes that industry advocacy is important to our individual and collective success.