In this exclusive Q&A, Rusty Bishop, CEO of Federated Auto Parts, provides an update on the program group’s first-half initiatives and looks ahead to the second half of 2018.
CM: We’re at the halfway point of 2018. Could you reflect on Federated’s accomplishments and highlights from the first half of the year?
RB: Since the start of the year, Federated/Automotive Parts Services Group (APSG) has experienced numerous significant accomplishments and growth in the competitive aftermarket. We have added new members and many Federated members have added new stores and/or warehouses. Overall, our members are having an excellent year and are continuing to grow and improve their businesses. Our Co-Man warehouse is realizing double-digit growth and continues to be a major asset for our members and vendor partners. Numerous IT initiatives have been completed with many more in the pipeline.
We recently held the first combined APSG member meeting in conjunction with Pronto that, with more than 650 attendees, turned out to be a great success and raised $350,000 for Tots for Tots. Our strong relationships and positive coordination with Pronto within APSG have positioned us well for the future.
CM: What kinds of challenges and opportunities are you seeing in the aftermarket distribution space this year?
RB: There are always plenty of challenges. Some supplier issues and service challenges have forced us to look at different options. The market is very competitive, with retailers attempting to grow their share of the professional service provider business, at times using aggressive pricing to please Wall Street. Consolidation continues in all areas and creates change for everyone. Data is becoming more important every day and we are working to develop quality processes.
CM: What does Federated have planned for the second half of 2018?
RB: Federated/APSG have many plans in place for the remainder of the year, including local “Get Dirty with Kenny” dirt track racing promotions held throughout the country with Federated spokesman Kenny Schrader and the annual Federated Auto Parts 400 NASCAR race that will be held Sept. 22 at Richmond Raceway in Virginia. The Co-Man Council will hold a meeting to guide the future of this valuable member asset. After that, we will all head to Las Vegas for Industry Week and then, toward the end of the year, we will host the annual Federated executive committee meeting.
In addition, we have planned improvements to the Federated Car Care program, enhancements to The Group Training Academy and perhaps most significantly, we will continue to advance our collaboration with our capable partners at Pronto in a number of areas. It is always busy working to create added value for our members and suppliers and to constantly improve in every area to better compete against much larger competitors.
CM: Anything you’d like to add?
RB: The aftermarket is facing many new challenges and opportunities affected by many factors, including technology, internet fulfillment and the Big 4. If this is David versus Goliath, then the various Davids should be working closer together to survive and thrive. We need to focus as an industry to make sure we are able to continue to constantly improve our services, partnerships and programs that consumers expect and deserve. The issues are becoming more important and complex, requiring all of us to work together toward solutions.