Keystone News

In an era when the U.S. RV industry has exhibited consistent growth and resilience, consolidation continued to reshape the North American RV market­place in a big way in 2015 just as it has in an array of other U.S. business sectors.

On the manufacturing side, Thor In­dustries Inc. acquired key vendor Pos­tle Aluminum Inc., Cavco Industries Inc. bought Fairmont Homes Inc. and Chariot Eagle Inc. and California-based Pacific Coachworks Inc. purchased Northland Industries in Nampa, Idaho.

Supplier Patrick Industries Inc. made headlines with the acquisition of North American Forest Products Inc. and Structural Composites of Indiana Inc., while Elkhart, lnd.-based Dexter Axle completed the late-year purchases of AL-KO Vehicle Technology and Titan lnternational's brake and actuator business. Lippert Components Inc. and Valterra Products LLC also finalized significant acquisitions.

On the retail front, Camping World Inc., Lazydays RV, Campers Inn RV, Pete's RV Center and Woody's RV World were among the retailers buying existing stores.

But it was consolidation in the RV aftermarket parts and accessories end of the business that arguably generated the most "buzz" in the trade press over the past year and ultimately made LKQ Corp:s Exeter, PA-based Keystone Automotive Operations Inc. and NTP­Stag RV distribution unit a slam-dunk choice as the "2015 RVBusiness Newsmaker of the Year:

"It wasn't a tough choice for the staff of RVBusiness, given the sheer volume of news stories on this topic in the com­petitive trade press; reported RVBusi­ness Publisher Sherm Goldenberg. "The fact of the matter is that LKQ in two years has amalgamated a substantial share of the U.S. RV aftermarket by pur­chasing the nation's top three RV after­market distributors, including Keystone Automotive itself and its Oregon-based NTP Distribution Inc. division plus Atlanta-based Stag-Parkway Inc. and, in August, The Coast Distribution System Inc. out of Morgan Hill, California.

"And when you look at the general ongoing wave of consolidation and the attention Keystone's acquisitions spawned among dealers, suppliers and competitive distributors, there's really no question in our minds that Keystone Au­tomotive was the most newsworthy sin­gular news story in the RV arena over the past year:"

Of course, there were plenty of other buzz-worthy headlines in 2015, among them:

"Winnebago's Potts Retires; Olson is Interim CEO" - The abrupt August exit of Winnebago Industries Inc. Chairman, President and CEO Randy Potts after 32 years with the Iowa manufacturer was a complete surprise to the rest of the industry, as was the temporary appointment of retired chairman Bob Olson and, subsequently, the interim tenure of Board Chairman Larry Erickson as the search for Pottts' replacement continued.

"Huge/meyer Succeeds Coon as RV/A's President" - Change at the top of the manufacturer-led Recreation Vehicle Industry Association doesn't occur all that often. Richard Coon, a former Cummins/Onan sales execu· tive, served 1 0 years before his October retirement. So, people are watching closely the transition to a new era at the Reston, VA-based trade association during which ex-Outdoor Industry Association President Frank Hugelmeyer should bring plenty of energy and new ideas.

"GE Sells Commercial Finance Arm to Wells Fargo" - Less than a month after GE CEO and Chairman Jeffrey lmmelt visited the RV industry's leadership in February in Elkhart, Ind., he informed General Electric Co. share· holders that the returns from its massive banking operations had fallen below the company's cost of capital, adding urgency to its consideration of an exit from the business. Sure enough, in mid-October, GE Capital, a major RV floorplan lender, was sold to Wells Fargo & Co.

All things considered, though, Key­stone's NTP-STAG rollup clearly was the story of the year, even though Keystone Vice President and General Manager Bill Rogers wasn't altogether flattered by all of the press coverage and the at­tention it involved. On the contrary, Rogers said in an early December inter· view during RVIA's 53rd Annual Na­tional RV Trade Show in Louisville, Ky., that his top priority right now has little to do with publicity and everything to do with the integration of all three companies under the corporate umbrella of 2,000-employee Keystone. RVB Exeter Building

As part of that effort, Rogers and his RV team at Keystone - already one of the world's leading distributors of specialty automotive parts and accessories - are methodically working their way through the ranks of North American dealers and suppliers to further assure them that they will like doing business with Keystone and NTP-STAG over the long haul, given a chance to do so.

"I guess I don't see it (a "Newsmaker of the Year" designation) as all that significant in itself," said Rogers, as his company prepared for its first combined NTP·STAG 2016 Expo trade show Jan. 19-20 in New Orleans. "I think what we've done has made good logic in terms of helping build a supply chain for dealerships that is efficient, that is able to offer high service levels, that is economically helpful. And the more vol­ume that goes through that supply chain, the more runs (delivery cycles) we can have to the customers."

Although Keystone will continue doing business in the RV sector as "NTP-STAG" for the time being, Rogers says that name could change once Key­stone gets its arms around the Coast acquisition. NTP-STAG has already consolidated three of Coast's warehouses into Keystone's overall network - which today includes seven warehouses, 47 stand-alone shipping cross-docks and $200 million in field inventory.

"So, we're 'NTP-STAG' for now, and since Coast isn't integrated yet, it still stands alone - and that's the way it's staying for awhile," said Rogers, seated next to NTP-STAG Director of Market­ing John Spaulding in the South Wing of the Kentucky Exposition Center dur­ing the Louisville Show. "I think we'll always do a different branding for the RV side versus the Keystone (automotive) side. Whether it changes over time remains to be seen."

Reflecting on his experiences over the past two years and some of the mis­understanding that sometimes surfaced, Rogers feels that he and his RV team could have done a better job of commu­nicating at times with both suppliers and dealers in presenting their overall game plan. That said, he thinks that Keystone's management has been making progress lately in conveying one essential message: That Keystone and its NTP·STAG division have no interest in doing anything but bringing improved service and better products to its customer base.

"Yes, we are making progress," said Rogers. "We are getting a good response from dealerships and the overall customer base. I think there was some early concern about it and I think we've tried to address those concerns - probably not quick enough. If there was anxiety in the supply chain, it wasn't, I don't think, anything that we did to create it other than a lack of communication or a lack of getting in front of the communi­cation around that. But the more time goes by and the more we're consistent and the more we're doing what we say we'll do, our channel partners are responding well. I am optimistic about our ability to stay connected with our customers and deliver an improved customer experience."

RVB Exeter Warehouse"And now that I've had the opportu­nity to visit with customers, I think there's a couple of things that we can do to help the industry in addition to just the normal stuff we do," added Rogers, whose company brought a staff of 40 people to the Louisville Show. "I think there's an area around training and helping to get more technicians into the industry that we can take a leadership role on. So, John (Spaulding) and I have talked about doing much more on that in 2016. Where we have training theaters at our facilities, we can provide space to hold meetings and help coordinate supplier engagement. We can help co­ordinate with suppliers to do training and really work with RVIA and the other industry associations to come up with programs that support the certification requirements that help get techs into the industry.

"And if we do that, it will help the deal­ers; I think they'll be appreciative. It's a win for them, but I think it's a big win for us, too, because the more business they do, the more business we'll do."

For his part, Spaulding, a former front-line Stag-Parkway executive, says he's looking forward to 2016 and to let­ting his company's veteran staff - representing all three formerly independent distribution firms - do what it does best at the New Orleans "Expo" show and beyond.

"Yes," Spaulding told RVB, "2016 will be an exciting year for us. We'll have all three entities operating in concert at the Expo and our goal is to prove ourselves and earn the business that customers are good enough to give us. Our priority is to provide what they need when they need it, very consistently, and to earn the right to be their first choice for aftermarket parts."  RVB

 

Let The BIG Shows Begin

Forty years is a long time to remain relevant. For Keystone Automotive Operations, the leading and largest wholesale distributor of specialty automotive parts in North America, decades of longevity in a dynamic industry can be attributed to four Ps: partnerships, products, performance, and personnel.

Keystone has learned a few things during its impressive history. Never lose sight of your core business; master the fundamentals that keep your doors open; practice integrity in all that you do, resulting in meaningful, long-lasting partnerships; and invest in the right personnel to produce quality results. Those values, ever present during the days of legendary racer and company founder Joe Amato, are still revered and practiced today.

Capitalize On A Growing Market

The Keystone BIG Shows are a representation of these quality characteristics, bringing together three of the strongest forces responsible for helping to shape the aftermarket, with the end result of stronger relationships, growth and prosperity:

• A passionate manufacturing community dedicated to product innovation
• Business-savvy retailers and restylers looking to capitalize on aftermarket opportunities to drive sales
• A trusted distribution partner committed to delivering on consumer demand and providing customers what they need when they need it, so they can close the sale.

The specialty automotive equipment market has grown from 7.2 billion to 36.2 billion, a staggering 500 percent over the past 25 years. And there are no signs of stalling — analysts forecast an upward trend through 2018. As a business owner in a mature and expanding industry now is the time to invest in your future. And there’s no better way to ring the cash register than at the Keystone BIG Shows. The first show is slated for February 20 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in the nation’s capital. The Gaylord Texan in Dallas will host the BIG Show on March 5. Together, the events serve as the largest wholesale only buying opportunities.

All aftermarket segments are represented, giving every kind of customer a chance to gather, share market intelligence and receive a customized business-building experience in a more intimate setting with hands-on product demos and education, as well as appealing purchasing incentives to bolster profit potential. There’s something for everyone, from speed, restyling and truck accessory shop owners to Jeep® specialty installers and more.

“The BIG Shows are the single most important days of the year, not only for Keystone but also for our suppliers and our customers. It’s the only time we are all in the same place at the same time with the opportunity to really help each other grow,” said Eric Fairchild, Keystone’s director of north east sales and U.S. customer support. “It is the perfect storm of opportunity: teaching, learning, communicating, building relationships, investing in your business and more. The BIG Shows are unmatched within the industry,” he added. “They give the supplier and jobber the opportunity that SEMA intends to offer, but with a more personalized approach and the added benefit that you can buy what you see. Regardless of business size, you can’t afford not to be there.”

Rolling Out The Red Carpet

Corby Phillips, national sales manager at Warn Industries, has been attending the shows for eight years. “Warn’s two biggest selling seasons are spring and fall. The BIG Shows are the perfect time of year, giving the jobber an opportunity to see our new products and prepare for the hobbyists and hunters to come out of hibernation for spring sales,” said Phillips. “The combination of warming weather and tax returns create an ideal scenario for the jobber to make the sale in the following 30-90 days.”

WEATHER GUARD® has been exhibiting at the BIG Shows since 2009, witnessing them outgrow the Secaucus and Atlantic City, N.J., venues. “This year marks our sixth consecutive year as the primary sponsor of the BIG Show West in Dallas,” said Mike Katz, national sales manager. “The BIG Shows always give us a fast start to the year, allowing us to showcase new products, launch exciting promotions and offer crazy, tough-to-pass-up, one-day show deals, so jobbers can stock up heading into the season.”

Products Showcase and enjoy a reception sponsored by Pendaform™ the night before the show. “The showcase offers customers a focused look at a variety of new products on display across all aftermarket segments," said Tim Williams, VP of sales and marketing. “It’s a great opportunity to see what new items can directly benefit your business or complementary items you may not have considered that can diversify your offerings and increase your growth potential. “On a personal level,” continued Williams, “I really love the ability to get in front of the customers, educate them about our product and talk about current trends, as well as throw out some great programs and promotions for them to take advantage of.” Hint, hint… they’ve been known to give away a truck or two!

Talk shop with your favorite manufacturers and be introduced to a variety of new lines that can kick your business up a notch. Take advantage of enticingly deep deals, promotions and giveaways, allowing you to stock up on your fastest-moving items and new products at a lower price. That means more built-in margin for you and increased profits upon closing the sale. And, you’ll be rubbing shoulders with fellow enthusiasts and industry celebrities. Chip Foose, Vic Edelbrock, Richard Rawlings and Brian Deegan have been known to stop by — just to name a few.

Keystone has managed to combine an engaging atmosphere, great events and, most importantly, business-building opportunities effectively. This gives attendees a one-stop shopping experience that is sure to wow and deliver long-term results. “We want to be part of the process to really help our customers market themselves as a local source for new and innovative products,” said Larry Montante, Keystone’s VP of category management.

So what’s in store for 2016? “Well, you’ll have to come out and see us! You can plan on a lot of excitement, entertainment, celebrity meet-and-greets, prizes, cash giveaways and more. It’s a perfect time of year to see new products and talk one-on-one with the manufacturing experts — all while having fun!” said Melissa Holland, Keystone events manager. “We’re committed to making the shows bigger and better every single year. It’s truly a team effort to ensure customers have a fantastic experience, and we certainly have the right people to make that happen.”

But Don’t Just Take Our Word For It — Take THEIRS!

PendaForm’s Williams couldn’t agree more. “In one spot, you have all of the people that make the products, distribute the products and sell the products—all those who help you make money. It’s a one-day show that makes that BIG of a difference. “You have to figure out a way to break away from the shop for a day”’ he added, “because it’s entirely possible you can meet someone and see, learn or buy something so important that it equates to 10 times more than you can sell in your shop that day. What you learn and see, and have the ability to purchase at the price being offered, can make a huge impact. It’s an investment in your future.”

For three veteran showgoers, breaking away from the shop has made all the difference. “We have two showrooms and install everything we sell,” said Glen Smith, general sales manager at BlackJack SpeedShop. “We work on a variety of vehicles, including Jeeps, trucks, modern muscle and even hot rods. I’ve attended the BIG Shows four or five times. It’s beneficial to meet the vendors and actually see the product and take advantage of deals, especially lines like Warn that go deeper at the show just for those attending. It’s a hands-on experience for us.”

Added Chris Schexnider, Classic Tint’s general manager: “Our core business is window tint and bedliners, but we’ve seen a big uptick in truck accessories. I’ve been attending the BIG Shows for four years. Our favorite part is being able to meet the vendors, see the new products and displays, keep up with what’s happening in the market and take advantage of the deals. Last year, we stocked up on WeatherTech® liners and UnderCover Flex. Also, I consider my relationship with my Keystone sales rep more like a friend.”

Access to new products, vendor interface and new-business opportunities are key reasons to attend, noted Jeff Hanks, VP at Cap and Hitch. “Our business is installs and truck accessories. I attended my first BIG Show in ’08. It’s great to talk with the manufacturers and put names with faces. Our favorite aspect is the New Products Showcase, and there are a lot of deals and promotions. We stock up on the small stuff, and Karen Liedel (Keystone sales associate) points us in the right direction of how to diversify our business.”

Quick Quiz

Where can shop owners across every aftermarket segment gather to meet with the industry’s top manufactures, discuss current trends, learn about new lines, see new products post-SEMA Show, and have a trade show experience that will increase their revenue? The Keystone BIG Shows, of course.

So be sure to: • Book early for best hotel rates
• Keep reservation and registration info handy
• Check parking structure height restrictions affecting raised vehicles
• Schedule time with your Keystone sales associate
• Download the BIG Show app to keep track of schedules
• Grab a floor plan to map out your day
• Check out show sponsors WEATHER GUARD and ReadyLIFT®
• Visit the Keystone booth for business-building tools and your top manufacturers
• Diversify with new product lines
• Attend the New Products Showcase and Customer Appreciation Receptions to enjoy great food and mingle with manufacturers, colleagues and the Keystone team
• Place orders early and often. Big Show deals are one-day specials — no exceptions
• So if you find a steal, BUY IT! STOCK IT! SELL IT!

 

  • 2/15/2016 12:00:00 AM
To Our Valued Customers:

Automotive enthusiasts have converted their street vehicles into race cars for decades, from pre-World War II classics to modern day performance vehicles. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has issued a legislative proposal that jeopardizes this favorite American pastime, and the future of our industry.

According to the White House Petition, if passed, “it would outlaw the conversion of any type of emissions-certified vehicle into a race car, and make it illegal to sell any emissions-related parts for those cars. The Clean Air Act prohibits the EPA from regulating race cars. Tell EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy to remove this provision from the “Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Fuel Efficiency Standards for Medium- & Heavy-Duty Engines-Phase 2" rule.”

Your Keystone team supports industry leaders and its valued partners advocating the repeal of this proposed legislation, one that would have a significant impact on the automotive aftermarket. We ask that you consider the magnitude of such legislation and urge you to sign the White House Petition asking the EPA to withdraw its proposal. We need 100,000 signatures in 30 days.

CLICK HERE TO SIGN


Sincerely,

Keystone Automotive Operations

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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