Sometimes, It’s Good To Poke The Bear

Sometimes, It’s Good To Poke The Bear

Most of you have probably heard the expression, “Don’t poke the bear.” I think it’s pretty much similar to “let a sleeping dog lie” but it’s regarding a larger and potentially more deadly animal. The sentiment, I believe, is to leave a situation alone because the consequences are otherwise grim and nasty if you wake that dog or poke that bear. In this instance the bear, I believe, is paper catalogs but could also be aftermarket parts professionals who rely on and want nothing to do with abolishing them. If we consider that the bear is the paper catalog, it might just be time to at least nudge him and let him know he’s on his way out.

In this instance the bear, I believe, is paper catalogs but could also be aftermarket parts professionals who rely on and want nothing to do with abolishing them. If we consider that the bear is the paper catalog, it might just be time to at least nudge him and let him know he’s on his way out.

I’ve gotten countless letters to the editor regarding this issue since Jon Owens, the former publisher of this magazine, brought it to the forefront in a December 2007 column. His challenge was that manufacturers should print all the paper catalogs they want throughout 2008, but cease to do so at the start of 2009. This would leave counter professionals to rely on, for the most part, e-catalogs for future parts information. But they would still have all those old, beautiful paper versions to hold onto.

As you might guess, the idea of abolishing paper catalogs not been a popular goal or aspiration. In the numerous letters to the editor I’ve gotten, counter professionals have a real beef with e-cats and find that paper catalogs give them information they can’t find anywhere else. Some countermen and women have resorted to placing their paper catalogs on high shelves in conspicuous areas of their businesses in order to keep a watchful eye on their precious paper catalogs and ensure that no one walks off with them.

Most who write me can’t imagine a life without paper. But in reading and listening to all the opinions about the issue, the crux of the matter isn’t that there’s something inherently great about paper itself, but the information derived from it. The common argument is that photographs and diagrams that accompany paper catalogs can’t be found in e-cats. Some wonder about what happens when the electricity’s out. How are they going to be able to sell auto parts? (One counter professional’s answer is that is the beauty of paper – it’s a better technology than, well, technology.)

I’m sure there’s a level of comfort in paper because that’s just what’s been used for the last numerous decades. But overwhelmingly, the argument by most counter professionals centers around the fact that paper trumps electronic simply for the information it provides. It just so happens that the Web is trumping paper in many areas simply because it’s a better and more effective means of delivering the latest information. But it wasn’t always that way. There’s been a learning curve that has brought the Web to where it is now, for example.

In many respects, an e-cat can be better than paper. Take for example a misprint. Once it’s in a catalog, how do you come to find out there’s an error regarding a part you’re trying to sell?

Most likely, it’s through a sale that doesn’t turn out correctly because the information was bad. With an e-cat, the information can be updated or corrected, most likely before you’d even know it was wrong. That’s the beauty (or potential, at least) of e-cats. Perhaps the information now isn’t as voluminous as a paper catalog. Maybe an e-cat you’ve used doesn’t have the diagrams or photos you’ve grown accustomed to. But it likely won’t be that way for long.

You May Also Like

What Will the ‘COVID-Era Consumer’ Do in 2022?

The beauty of the automotive aftermarket is that the economic conditions always seem to work in the industry’s favor.

Online Shopping

Remember the tariffs? Nathan Shipley does. Back in 2019, “that’s all we were talking about as an industry,” Shipley recalled, during his “Aftermarket Outlook 2022” presentation this past November at AAPEX.

Looking back at the “Distribution Preview” in the January 2019 issue of AMN/Counterman, aftermarket leaders consistently expressed concerns that former President Trump’s tariffs – and China’s retaliatory tariffs – could disrupt aftermarket supply chains, leading to higher prices and even production interruptions. Tariffs remained on their radar in January 2020, although it looked like the aftermarket was weathering the storm.

Right To Repair, Trade Associations And You

In the fight for Right to Repair legislation, aftermarket trade groups can’t do it alone.

Veterans Can Be Heroes Off the Battlefield Too

Veterans bring an incredible amount of value to the civilian workplace, in terms of nontechnical and technical skills.

Veterans and Vehicles
What’s Really Driving The Automotive Aftermarket’s Growth?

NPD’s Nathan Shipley looks at the many moving pieces contributing to the industry’s recent spike in demand.

aftermarket growth
Strength In Numbers

The automotive aftermarket is filled with great people. In fact, many say it’s our strong suit.

Teamwork automotive aftermarket

Other Posts

Never Stop Learning

With so much internet-based training content available, it’s never been easier to expand your knowledge base.

Continuing Education
Welcome To 2035 – What Things Might Look Like

The future is what we make it. We need to start addressing technology now so 2035 becomes a bright future.

Future of Transportation
Seems Like Everybody’s Talkin’ About Electric Vehicles

Not only are people talking about EVs, but according to the latest U.S. sales figures, they’re also buying them.

Tesla Electric Vehicle
Still Time To Nominate Someone For Counter Pro Of The Year

We’ll be accepting nominations through Aug. 1.