In our cover story for the January issue of AMN/Counterman, we asked distribution leaders to reflect on the successes and challenges of 2022 and share some of their insights for the industry in 2023.
Here’s our Q&A with Sue Godschalk, president of Federated Auto Parts.
AMN/CM: What did your organization accomplish in 2022 that you are most proud of?
SG: There are so many things that Federated members and staff do throughout the year that are noteworthy and make me very proud. For example, the 2022 Federated ROI Sales Campaign was one of our most successful marketing programs to date. It included the annual Suite-Stakes promotion with over 12,000 service center participants and helped both members and vendors increase sales, build customer loyalty and identify new business opportunities.
The accomplishments of Ashlee Arnold of Arnold Oil Company of Austin and Grace Hovis of Hovis Auto & Truck Supply also make me very proud. Ashlee was recently named chair of AWDA and Grace was one of four recipients of the Auto Care Association Impact Award. These Federated members have also been featured as “Women at the Wheel” honorees.
After many months of preparation, Federated has recently formed a joint venture with the Aftermarket Auto Parts Alliance, allowing both groups to combine select activities and resources to reduce costs and improve service and efficiencies for our respective members. We are excited to have The Alliance join Federated and The Pronto Network in shared ownership of the Automotive Parts Services Group (The Group).
AMN/CM: How can the independent aftermarket parts and service segments best prepare to repair the car of tomorrow as ADAS, EVs and other technologies become more prominent?
SG: In my opinion, the future is already here, and these types of vehicles and technologies are already in need of repair. With that being said, the simple answer is tools and training.
When it comes to tools, accuracy and adaptability are key. As distributors, we need to make sure we offer and recommend tools that enable technicians to perform accurate repairs and service a wide array of vehicles. Accurate ADAS calibration is crucial as the slightest of errors can put the driver and those on the road in jeopardy. EVs have the added concern of ensuring the safety of the techs who work on these vehicles.
Proper training is also crucial. New vehicles require new skill sets, and that’s why Federated, as part of The Group, has invested heavily in training. The Group Training Academy offers a wide array of training options from online courses and webinars to in-person classes with a focus on EVs, hybrids and ADAS-equipped vehicles. We even offer mobile interactive workshops featuring the award-winning Toyota Prius hybrid cutaway. We are working diligently to stay ahead of the curve and collaborate with our providers to offer much-needed training on new technologies to our customers.
AMN/CM: What do you feel is the greatest threat facing the automotive aftermarket right now?
SG: One of the greatest threats has to be the OEMs who, with fewer new-car sales, are aggressively pursuing vehicle repair work in the six-to-nine-year-old category. They have an advantage with the ability to access real-time vehicle data analytics that is not always available to the aftermarket. All members of the aftermarket should get active and support Right to Repair legislation to ensure that consumers have a choice when it comes to vehicle repair and shops have the ability and the information necessary to complete those repairs.