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

Keystone Automotive Launches New Mobile App

Exeter, PA Keystone Automotive Operations, has launched a new mobile app that puts the power of their industry best “eKeystone” business-to-business system into any device and makes it mobile! “Access to information when and where a person needs it was a fundamental consideration in the building of our app for mobile devices,” states Harneet Kaur, Director of Marketing at Keystone. “Fast, convenient and thoughtful access to data, tools and sales resources that make our customer’s lives better and more productive was the objective and the result we achieved,” she added.

Shop owners are often in front of the counter, out in the parking lot looking at a customer’s vehicle, making a dealer sales call, or in the shop working on a vehicle build. This app gives them the flexibility to access eKeystone tools anywhere they work.

“In addition to being able to access all the power and resources available on eKeystone, it goes even further. One of the new features is VIN Lookup which has been on our desired feature list for a long time” states Fred Petrivelli, Vice President of Sales at Keystone. The app harnesses mobile device technology including voice-to-text capability to allow users to search for products simply by saying a category or brand, and utilizes the camera to scan QR, UPC and vehicle VIN numbers and VIN barcodes. This scanning capability takes the mobile app from a retail sales driver to a store management tool for inventory control and other store functions like pricing, labels and ordering.

eKeystone App Barcode and VIN Scanner

The eKeystone app includes all the proprietary data in Keystone’s B2B system. Subscribers can access 800k+ cataloged SKUs, 400k images, 20k videos, 40k installation instructions, and more. “When you put a tool like this to work in a live business environment the possibilities for improving customer service and sales are endless,” explained Petrivelli.

Whether the app is used to scan a vehicle VIN to help identify accessories appropriate for that vehicle, place an order, track a shipment or upsell accessories in a car lot, car show or event, it will prove to be a powerful sales tool that can be taken anywhere.

The app is now available for download on the iTunes App Store and Google Play and immediately available to existing Premium eKeystone users. Once loaded onto a user’s device the app is activated using the customer’s eKeystone account login information.

For more information contact a Keystone Automotive Operations customer service associate at (800) 521-9999.

Keystone Automotive to Distribute GRID Off-Road Products

GRID Off-Road has entered into an exclusive distribution agreement with Keystone Automotive Operations covering the U.S. and Canada.

“To compete and grow in today’s dynamic retail environment, businesses like ours need to find better ways to deliver products to market quickly and efficiently,” said Lawrence Lee, owner of GRID Off-Road. “After lining up our strengths and thinking about what we really love doing—designing innovative wheels and manufacturing them to the highest quality—we came to the realization that we needed to find a partner that could help us reach our growth potential and tackle the supply chain challenges.”

GRID Off-Road evaluated several options before landing on Keystone, according to the company.

“With Keystone’s network of warehouses, fleet of trucks, commitment to inventory and complete toolkit of marketing solutions they became the obvious choice,” Lee said. “We market, design and manufacture to the highest trendsetting standards in the aftermarket today. We believe their unique ability to serve the aftermarket coupled with their approach is a perfect fit."

Keystone operates seven distribution centers in North America with a combined available warehouse footprint of over 2.5 million square feet. GRID Off-Road products will be stocked in all locations to provide next-day delivery service and improved fill rates, according to the company.

GRID Off-Road headquarters are stationed near Keystone’s new 450,000-square-foot warehouse in Eastvale, California.

“We are extremely pleased to have this opportunity to work with GRID and serve both their existing customers, our very broad customer base and the future customers we develop together,” said Bill Rogers, president of Keystone Automotive Operations. “GRID’s focus on providing quality products and a positive customer experience is in alignment with ours. Our ability to reach the market through our sales team, the BIG Show and our marketing programs will provide GRID an excellent platform for growth. We appreciate their confidence in us and will work hard to insure the potential of their products and brand is realized.”

Tim Montana Live in Concert at the Glass Cactus

Gaylord Texan and Convention Center, Grapevine, TX

Join us and WEATHER GUARD to welcome Tim Montana for a LIVE concert before the BIG Show in Dallas, Texas on February 23rd at 8:00 p.m.. Protected by WEATHER GUARD.

* You must show your convention badge for entry.
* Must be 21 to attend.

 

ABOUT TIM MONTANA

It’s easy to see why Montana’s music connects with so many people far and wide. Dubbed as one of Rolling Stone’s “Artists You Need to Know,” his musical influencers range from Merle Haggard to Guns N’ Roses. Montana’s passion for music has not gone unnoticed by his fellow musicians. “Tim is the real deal. He’s a little bit country with lots of hard rocks — or maybe he’s a rocker in touch with some serious country roots,” says ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons. 

Tim grew up in Butte, MT in a household that did not support his musical career. He quickly learned if he wanted to make a reality of out his passion to sing and play guitar, he had to escape Big Sky Country. He packed his bags and made his way to the heart of country music, Nashville, TN. 

Soon after living in Nashville, a rodeo performance caught the attention of David Letterman. David was so impressed by Tim’s music, he personally invited Tim to perform on The Late Show with David Letterman. 

Montana continued to write and record which earned him a worldwide publishing deal with the Spirit Music Group. This led to an introduction with ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons. The two of them collaborated on multiple different tracks including, “This Beard Came Here to Party” which was the anthem for the Nashville Predator’s 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Tim followed up with writing on Kid Rock’s current single, “Tennessee Mountain Top” and “Greatest Show On Earth” as well as Mac McAnally’s current hit, “Amarula Sun.” 

In September 2017, Tim released his single, “Hillbilly Rich.” Rolling Stone called the song an, “an ode to fantasies about telling off your boss, making it rain, and having everything all at once.” Shortly after the song was released, Tim performed the single live on Fox & Friends.

To learn more about Tim Montana you can click here to visit his website.

The BIG Show to Feature Erik Qualman as Keynote Speaker

Gaylord Texan and Convention Center, Grapevine, TX

KEYSTONE AUTOMOTIVE OPERATIONS, Exeter, PA.  -  Keystone Automotive Operations is pleased to announce the addition of Erik Qualman as keynote speaker to the 2018 BIG Show lineup, Friday, February 23rd at 4:30 PM – 5:30 PM prior to show opening at 6:00 PM. “Our BIG show is bigger than ever this year and we wanted to add a Keynote Address as a new component to our program,” commented Fred Petrivelli, VP Sales for Keystone Automotive Operation. “We are always looking for ways to help our customers and believe that delivering thought provoking content and solutions that can expand the way they think about their business is important.”   He adds, “We are very grateful of Warn’s sponsorship of Erik Qualman and helping us provide an educational and entertaining jumpstart to our event,”

 

#1 Best Selling Author and Motivational Speaker Erik Qualman has performed in 49 countries and reached 25 million people this decade. His Socialnomics work has been on 60 Minutes to the Wall Street Journal and used by the National Guard to NASA. His book Digital Leader propelled him to be voted the 2nd Most Likeable Author in the World behind Harry Potter's J.K. Rowling.

What Happens in Vegas Stays on YouTube helped Qualman be listed by Forbes and Fortune as a Top 100 Digital Influencer. His business books are used in over 200 universities and he has received an honorary doctorate for his groundbreaking work.

His book How to Sell on LinkedIn is becoming mandatory reading for sales teams. Qualman was formerly a sitting professor at Harvard & MIT’s edX labs. “The digital age has brought an unprecedented focus on branding, especially social reputation. We feel Erik’s remarks will strike a chord with our customers as they look for new ways to connect with their consumers,” says Petrivelli.

For more information, attendees and suppliers should visit www.keystonebigshow.com or contact their Keystone representative.





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 offering to meet the ever-growing needs of its customer base, providing them what they need, when they need it most.

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