Keystone News

With consolidation rampant throughout the U.S. economy, the RV industry’s aftermarket parts and accessories companies – suppliers, dealers and distributors alike – are now taking their turn. The driver in this case is LKQ Corp. (Nasdaq: LKQ), a Fortune 500 company that in less than two years has acquired the nation’s top three distributors – Keystone Automotive Operations Inc.’s NTP Distribution Inc., Atlanta-based Stag-Parkway Inc. and, most recently, The Coast Distribution System Inc. The fact that all three companies are now operating under the same corporate umbrella managed by Keystone – one dominant player — has generated plenty of industry buzz on several levels. So, Bill Rogers, vice president and general manager of Keystone/NTP-STAG, agreed to address some of those concerns in this, a new weekly e-feature called, ah, “The Buzz.”

RVB: Some in the marketplace right now are concerned at how all this consolidation may potentially limit options for suppliers and dealers and result in higher prices. How would you respond to that criticism as it relates to the NTP, STAG and Coast rollup?

Rogers: We know there’s a concern out there. We know it because we are in constant contact with our suppliers and dealers as we work through our integration plan and because we are listening and making strategic decisions to ensure that those concerns are addressed up front.

From a suppliers perspective I think the benefits of consolidation are sometimes lost in the debate. If you consider the cost of selling to three competitors – the cost of training, supporting catalogs, trade shows, discounts and promotions – it is considerable. Not just from a financial perspective, but from a time perspective as well. Essentially it takes three times the effort. Take this a step further and consider the effort that was required to fill orders for more than 20 warehouse locations. That’s 20 P.O.’s, 20 AR records that have to be managed, 20 picks and 20 shipments. Consolidation cuts the amount of work to service the accounts from an administrative perspective by two-thirds.

The other benefit that comes along with having a larger presence in the market is coverage. This is a critical and often overlooked benefit when suppliers are considering their distribution strategy. Here’s an example of what I’m referring to: Imagine getting complete market coverage – U.S. and Canada — on a key product launch. When you can leverage an organization like ours, the sheer size brings an inertia and energy to the initiative that translates into improved business. It’s a lot harder to get that kind of penetration and collaborative results working with several different companies or businesses that don’t understand the market.

RVB: Is your approach to the RV industry any different than it is for your automotive clients?

We have made considerable changes to how Keystone fundamentally operates to insure the “automotive” model doesn’t override the requirements to serve our RV customers. We have unique order entry requirements for RV and automotive. We have separate sales teams for both. Most of our product management and marketing functions are unique to the market. Most important, we have exceptional people who came to us through our acquisitions and have been in the industry for years and years. These folks know more than we could ever learn if we had to develop the know-how organically.

With those changes and experience come significant benefits to our dealer customers as well. We have the largest inventory of parts and accessories in the market, so dealers shouldn’t have to hunt around for the part they’re looking for. We also have unique marketing, education, merchandising and trade show offerings that the individual competitive companies would have had difficulty delivering. So, you see, consolidation has benefits for dealers, too.

RVB: What about pricing – a delicate topic that logically emerges when one company, in this case Keystone, gains such a dominant edge?

You know, we’ve made it a priority to try and keep our pricing aligned with what customers were getting from their prior distributor. It hasn’t been easy. In some instances we found that dealers were buying below our costs, which needed to be corrected. In some instances we found that we mismanaged the data during integration and inadvertently changed a price – which, by the way, we corrected once we discovered our error.

In some instances we actually lowered the price. We are not consciously going out and raising prices to our customers. We are however, mindful of maintaining reasonable margins so that we can continue to support the market for the long haul.

At the end of the day, consolidation brings about an emotional response from folks. We get that. What we are trying to do is stay focused on the task at hand – maintaining our service levels through integration – while building an organization that earns the trust of our customers. We honestly don’t mind being held to a high standard because we believe as the leader we should set the pace and tone for the type of experience customers deserve. Our hope is this standard is applied equally across the market as suppliers and dealers consider their options.

1) Have a plan! You’re there to see some great vehicles, but you’re also there to develop and expand your business. Take advantage of the opportunity; get on the website and make sure you identify where and who you have to connect with. And always make sure you spend a few hours for the new products section, which is a must for all attendees.

2) Set your appointments so you’re in one hall for as long as possible. If you don’t then you will lose precious time walking back and forth between North, South and Central.

3) Swipe your card and have the manufacturers send you catalogs – carrying all those books could slow you down.

4) Spend time at the OE manufacturers’ booths to see what platforms they are focusing on so you know what’s in store for your businesses’ future

5) The show does not end at 5PM – SEMA and hundreds of participating manufacturers promote their own events and attending those events will help you create meaningful contacts and connections for your business in the future.

6) Don’t get comfortable – take the time to look at things that you don’t normally sell. You never know what you might see that can diversify your business!

Recent Articles

LKQ finalized deal to acquire Warn Industries

Chicago, IL (November 1, 2017) - LKQ Corporation (Nasdaq: LKQ) today announced that it has finalized the acquisition of Warn Industries, Inc. (“Warn”) a leading designer, manufacturer and marketer of high performance aftermarket equipment and accessories. Warn was previously owned by Dover Corporation (NYSE: DOV). Warn will be a part of LKQ’s Specialty Segment, Keystone Automotive Operations, Inc. (‘Keystone”)

“Finding new and better ways to serve the needs of our customers is a priority for Keystone. We are excited about the value and capabilities Warn brings to our customer centric approach to service,” said Bill Rogers, Vice President and General Manager of Keystone. “Their leadership position in the market and premium iconic brand give us the ability to drive our long-term strategy of growing share in our core markets and developing viable points of entry into adjacent spaces that show promise.”

Warn offers a broad product line of premium winches, hoists, locking hubs and bumpers and serve specialty retailers and distributors globally. Warn has a long history and reputation of developing the highest quality most technologically advanced products in the industry. The red W logo is omnipresent where rugged dependable products are required. From mountaintops to worksites and deserts to disaster areas, Warn is the product enthusiasts and professionals depend on.

“The team at Warn is very excited to be part of LKQ / Keystone,” said Eric Banks, Warn Vice President of Operations. “Our approach to customers and market opportunities are very similar. We believe that by serving our customers best we serve the needs of the entire supply chain better. They know our market space and have been leaders in it for many years. Being supported by a company that can bring new and critical resources to us means that our customers and all of our channel partners will benefit,” added Banks.

Warn will be run in an autonomous way within LKQ’s Specialty Products Group and maintain its operational presence in Oregon. “It is fantastic to have a very capable management team and experienced workforce in place there. Their infusion of talent to our organization will contribute significantly to all our working groups,” said Kyle Shiminski, Vice President of Keystone’s Specialty Products Group. “Their passion for their products and customers will help ensure that we continue to provide the highest quality products and service experiences people have come to expect,” he concluded.

“The collective team will be focused on maintaining the highest level of customer focus and driving the growth initiatives the organization has already developed,” said Rogers.

About LKQ Corporation
LKQ Corporation (www.lkqcorp.com) is a leading provider of alternative and specialty parts to repair and accessorize automobiles and other vehicles. LKQ has operations in North America, Europe and Taiwan. LKQ offers its customers a broad range of replacement systems, components, equipment and parts to repair and accessorize automobiles, trucks, and recreational and performance vehicles.

About Keystone Automotive Operations
Keystone is the leading distributor and marketer of aftermarket automotive products and services, uniquely positioned to offer customers and suppliers substantial scale, the most comprehensive inventory selection in the industry, high levels of customer service, and innovative marketing support. Keystone is committed to expanding its offerings to meet the ever-growing needs of its customer base, providing them what they need, when they need it most.

Keystone Automotive Operations Showcases Parts VIA at SEMA

EXETER, PA (October 23, 1017) – Parts Via is a new jobber friendly eCommerce solution developed by Keystone Automotive Operations that connects brands, through a unique network, to retail outlets and consumers. It is a web-based solution which creates a seamless transaction environment built over a supply chain network and infrastructure that can deliver anything from light bulbs and exhaust systems to tow bars and truck bed products to just about anywhere in North America next day.

According to Eric Fairchild, at Keystone. “Parts Via gives consumers the convenience of purchasing authentic branded products online with the choice to have them shipped to one of Keystone’s many qualified network retailers and installers. Parts Via provides consumers with unparalleled access to local services, technical expertise and installation support that traditional online purchases do not provide.”

Parts Via creates a strategic alliance between brands, retail outlets and consumers using Keystone’s technology, inventory, warehouses and fleet to enhance the shopping experience for consumers while growing sales for the Parts Via partner and dealer network. It enables and helps businesses capture sales where and how consumers shop in the fastest growing sales channel, always pulling the local retail outlet into the transaction.

“How we make it work is simple,” says Fairchild. “A consumer purchases an authentic branded product from their favorite branded website. We give them the choice to ship their purchase to their home or pick it up at a local network dealer’s location, gaining access to installation and service.” In either case the local establishment participates.

Keystone’s supplier partner’s website serves as the point of consumer engagement and Parts Via coordinates efforts to secure the sale and channel post-transaction activity (pick up in store and installation) with local merchants (network dealers). Parts Via bridges the customer engagement gap that leaves local brick and mortar retail outlets disconnected in most e-commerce transactions.

On behalf of the supplier partner and the retailer (network dealer), Parts Via develops the eCommerce components, runs transactions, manages distribution and oversees customer support. “This type of coordinated network partnership is unique and made possible only through Parts Via,” says Fairchild. “After a year’s worth of testing with very positive results and a ton of data and testimonials, we look forward to expanding our network with new suppliers and network dealers in the coming months,” he concludes.

Suppliers and retailers, dealers, installers and jobbers interested in learning more about Parts Via can visit www.partsvia.com.

LKQ Corporation to Acquire Aftermarket Business of Warn Industries, Inc.

Chicago, IL (October 23, 2017) - LKQ Corporation (Nasdaq: LKQ) today announced that its Specialty Segment, Keystone Automotive Operations, Inc. (‘Keystone”), agreed to acquire the aftermarket business of Warn Industries, Inc., a leading designer, manufacturer and marketer of high performance vehicle equipment and accessories. Warn is a wholly owned subsidiary of Dover Corporation (NYSE: DOV).

Established in 1948, Warn’s aftermarket business offers a broad product line of winches, hoists, locking hubs and bumpers, with over 350 employees serving specialty retailers and distributors globally. Holding over 130 patents, Warn has a long history of developing the highest quality, most technologically advanced products in the industry.

“Warn’s leadership position and premium iconic brand offer our Specialty Products Group the ability to drive our long-term strategy of growing our core markets and developing viable points of entry into adjacent markets,” said Bill Rogers, Vice President and General Manager of Keystone. “LKQ and Warn will be committed to continuing delivery of great value to our customers and to growing our combined businesses to higher levels.”

The transaction is expected to close in the fourth quarter, subject to customary closing conditions.

About LKQ Corporation

LKQ Corporation (www.lkqcorp.com) is a leading provider of alternative and specialty parts to repair and accessorize automobiles and other vehicles. LKQ has operations in North America, Europe and Taiwan. LKQ offers its customers a broad range of replacement systems, components, equipment and parts to repair and accessorize automobiles, trucks, and recreational and performance vehicles.

Keystone Automotive Operations acquires Topline Systems, Inc.

 

Exeter, PA. Keystone Automotive Operations has announced the acquisition of Topline Systems, Inc., a dealer and retail software development company that specializes in dealership/shop management and point of sales products that include comprehensive sales, service and parts management modules. “Our interest in looking at software as a solution for our customers began when we tried to think of new and improved customer support strategies and ways we could help our customers grow. What are the challenges our customers face that we can help them overcome?” states Keystone Business Leader, Bill Rogers.

“After hundreds of customer visits in the markets we serve we determined that inventory management, procurement, sales processes, and fundamental reporting and analytics were areas that many of our customers struggle with. The options available to them are either complicated and expensive, or too simplistic and ineffective. We felt a robust and easy to use alternative was needed and found Topline’s suite of products a perfect fit,” adds Rogers.

Keystone and Topline have a long history of working together, collaborating on a variety of projects. “We are excited about continuing our work with Keystone in a much more significant way,” comments Topline president, Steve Karafas. “The availability of capital and other resources they bring to the relationship will result in expanded features and benefits for existing users and help our emerging presence supporting customers in new markets as well.”

The foundation of Topline’s software is firmly rooted in the owner-manager-doer mindset. It was developed at a dealership with a retail store and a service/installation shop - for that business, by that owner. The same daily decision making process used to run the business was engineered into the software and has application well beyond the market it was initially intended to serve. This thoughtful - “I’ve actually done this work before” - approach has resulted in a feature-rich software solution that is affordable, easy to install, and easy to use.

“There are hundreds of dealers in North America using the Topline program today and we intend to keep things business as usual for them. They will experience no interruption in services or be required to work any differently than they have in the past. In fact, our intention is to operate Topline independently to maintain the existing securities and confidentiality that all of Topline’s customers and business partners have enjoyed,” commented Rogers. “We are looking forward to expanding on the foundational programming solutions that Topline has developed and applying them to businesses in other markets with similar needs, including the automotive aftermarket where we see a significant opportunity.”

Keystone intends to infuse capital and resources into the company to help it continue developing customer satisfaction solutions in the markets they serve. “For over 50 years, Keystone / NTP-STAG has been committed to partnering with our customers to not only provide them the broadest and deepest inventory selection and world class fulfillment capability, but also helping them continue to grow and succeed by offering end-to-end marketing solutions and innovative e-commerce solutions,” says Rogers. He adds, “The addition of Topline allows us to continue to offer new ways to help our customers grow and succeed by providing value based, high quality, state of the art business solutions, including Dealership Management, Point of Sale, Service, and Parts Management.”

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