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 Robert Roos, president of The Pronto Network.
AMN/CM: What are your thoughts about the business environment for the automotive aftermarket in 2023?
RR: In talking with my members and vendor partners, I get a sense of “cautious optimism” when looking ahead at what the business environment might look like in the coming months. We continue to face economic uncertainty, supply chain woes and unprecedented changes in vehicle technologies. Any one of these issues alone would be more than challenging for any industry, yet we continue to find ways to succeed. Our industry has met these challenges head-on and turned them into opportunities for growth and I would expect much of the same as we head into the new year. 2023 certainly looks to be another defining year for the automotive aftermarket.
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?
RR: The best way to prepare for the rapid-fire changes we are facing is to simply embrace these advancements as opportunities. I find these emerging technologies to be a huge driver of business. A few years ago, many in our industry were concerned, even frightened, about how these new technologies such as ADAS, electric vehicles, etc. could harm the aftermarket’s ability to continue to provide parts and services for this changing vehicle parc. Today, our industry accepts these advancements as new opportunities for all segments of our business. Continuing to push for training and education will be extremely important for distributors and service providers in the future. Together, with our partners at The Group Training Academy, we continue to develop and produce the most up-to-date training content for today’s vehicles as well as those of tomorrow. Understanding that our industry can and will adapt and change to remain relevant should put everyone’s mind at ease. New technologies will absolutely provide increased business opportunities for everyone within the aftermarket.
AMN/CM: What do you feel is the greatest threat facing the automotive aftermarket right now?
RR: The greatest threat facing the automotive aftermarket right now may also be our greatest opportunity. In my mind, that is the rapid pace of change within our industry. Whether it be the continued consolidation of vendors, distributors and service dealers, the lightning-fast development of new and improved technologies in today’s vehicles, or the ever-evolving supply chain, we are faced with a variety of threats unlike anything we have seen in recent years. But the truth of the matter is, our industry has been surviving and thriving in this type of environment for many, many years. One of my favorite quotes is “The only thing constant is change.” The ongoing Right to Repair issue is a perfect example. Vehicles change, technologies change and the way our industry will service and support them continues to change. Today, information is available at our fingertips. The smart approach is to tackle these changes head-on. Be a leader in finding the ways to help your business partners navigate these waters. Make your organization invaluable to those you do business with, and you will quickly turn threats into opportunities.