Keystone News

  • 6/27/2016 12:00:00 AM
  • Sherman Goldenberg

Exeter, PA.-based Keystone Automotive Operations Inc. (KAO) had previously announced the opening of its sprawling, 360,000-square-foot Brownstown, Mich., warehouse, which has been shipping parts and accessories orders to independent automotive retailers and RV parts and accessories clients since last fall. (To view a slideshow scroll to the right side of the RVBUSINESS.com page linked above).

But the company’s new “Great Lakes Warehouse” got a more public initiation on Saturday (June 25) when Keystone, led by several senior executives, welcomed more than 100 customers for a casual meet-and-greet session plus lunch and tours of the facility just south of metropolitan Detroit after which attendees joined the “Keystone Team” for a Detroit Tigers-Cleveland Indians baseball game.

Also in attendance were a handful of supplier exhibitors, including bed-cover maker Truck Hero Inc., Ann Arbor, Mich., and hitch manufacturer Cequent Performance Products Inc., Plymouth, Mich.

KAO’s Brownstown facility, now one of seven key warehouses positioned nationally for a company that bills itself as the world’s largest automotive parts and accessories distributor, is designed to service primary Brownstown Open Housecross-dock fulfillment locations in places like Akron, Ohio, Chicago and Grand Rapids, Mich., and to speed deliveries throughout the north-central U.S. and parts of Ontario.

“I think the most important thing for us to get across is that we’ve always serviced this region as a company,” explained George Lathouris, director of U.S. automotive sales for KAO, a unit of Chicago-based LKQ Corp. “But we needed this facility and the inventory that’s inside it to do a better job here because of the growth and expansion that we’ve been experiencing as an organization. We just needed more square footage.

“So, instead of adding onto an existing facility, we put our merchandise closer to the customer, so they’re getting great order fill – quickly without a lot of transferring – coming right out of this facility directly to their stores.”

And while a clear majority of Keystone’s business is automotive — as were most of Saturday’s open house guests — KAO spokesmen indicate they’ve made a lot of progress lately in integrating the RV parts and accessories businesses added over the past two to three years with the acquisitions of North America’s three largest two-step RV distributors, including Oregon-based NTP Distribution Inc., Atlanta’s Stag-Parkway Inc. and, last August, The Coast Distribution System Inc., Morgan Hill, Calif.

In fact, Lathouris told RVBUSINESS.com that RV dealer parts and accessories deliveries are now part and parcel of KAO’s daily routine, with many delivery trucks now fitted with large “cannon tubes” for handling RV awnings and moldings. And, he noted, the overall impact has been a positive for a business built on volume deliveries across the country.

“I think it’s been great for the (overall Keystone) organization because it gives us the opportunity to offer varied products and, let’s just say, frequency of delivery because the increased volume in the organization gives us the opportunity to service all of our customers better – more cross-docks, more trucks, more inventory, more people,” said Lathouris, who’s based out of Corona, Calif. “It’s a situation where we can take care of more customers in a more effective fashion.”

Now that the integration of NTP and STAG has been completed, the main order of business on the RV side is to finish off the same process with Coast, a process that, according to John Ruch, vice president of fulfillment and logistics, should be finished in six months to a year.

“We’ve integrated or are in the process of integrating 13 of Coast’s 17 buildings,” said Ruch. “The four that are left are Fort Worth, Texas, Atlanta, Elkhart, Ind., and Visalia, Calif. And we’re going to continue through the rest of the year looking to see where we can provide better customer service by combining deliveries on our trucks and getting products more quickly out to our customers. We’re going to continue to integrate where we can, so there’s really no plan solidified yet on dates or anything. But we’ll just look to continue to provide that better customer service. By having everything consolidated, you have better inventory, better cut times and more consistent deliveries.”

Bottom line, Lathouris and Ruch agreed, RV parts and accessories are now part and parcel of what KAO does on a regular basis at all seven of its main warehouses.

“Our true value proposition is we take many different products, put them on one delivery truck and for one fee we drop off — one item or 20 items – a small part of the truck or the entire truck – for one fee — and the merchandise can come from any one of our seven locations direct to the customer,” said Lathouris. “The fact that it may be large and bulky and we can get it there so efficiently, I think, is some of the magic that we offer to the customer base. I think it’s worth noting.”

 

  • 6/14/2016 12:00:00 AM

CORONA, CA - There is nothing more indicative of summer than eating a burger.  Unless, you’re eating that burger riding shotgun in a souped up ride!  Here at Keystone, we always feel the need for speed (and burgers!) so Tuesday, June 14th we invited employees, manufacturers and customers to our Corona, Ca offices for a little supercharged fun in the sun. 

Our partners at Magnaflow, Edelbrock, Energy Suspension, MGP Calipers, Powermaster, KW Suspension, Hypertech and Belltech came together with their show trailers and booths, while Customers and employees walked the show listening to dynamic sales training and new product tutorials.  Edelbrock even spun some of them around in their Supercharged Mustang, courtesy of Ken Schuck and KAM Marketing.

Ben Chase, regional Sales Rep, along with George Lathouris, Director of Sales, and John Grier, West Coast Sales Manager, gave customers a tour of the California offices and warehouse.   Chase said the event was a major success, noting the great deal of customer and supplier interaction.

The local community came out to support.  Very special thanks to The Habit Burger Grill for supplying the delicious burgers and to Thunder from the Lake Elsinore Storm Minor League Baseball Team for entertaining us with his sweet dance moves.

Powersports Industry Offers Retailers And Restylers Increased Profit Potential

Spring is a seasonal gold mine across many aftermarket segments and an ideal opportunity for retailers and restylers to take advantage of increased foot traffic and cash in. There’s certainly no shortage of enthusiast activities to fuel a consumer spending spree.

 

For example:

  • Off-road racing fans are savoring the intensity of a short-course dirt track and tinkering with their own 4x4 parts in the garage
  • The Jeep® community is hitting the trails top-down style, hoping to get stuck and put that premium winch to good use
  • Open-road adventure seekers have their campers in tow, excited to explore the great outdoors
  • Gear heads are making final modifications to get their whips road ready for the summer season

 

But the powersports market, comprised of ATVs, side-by-sides (SxS), motorcycles, powerboats, personal watercraft (PWC), and snowmobiles, has a diehard group of recreational enthusiasts that often is overlooked as a prime target and means for diversification within the aftermarket. It’s a stable industry with healthy margins and a loyal customer base — and retailers and restylers should be tapping into this pool of increased profit potential.

“(Powersports units) need to be towed, hauled or trailered, and you need a truck in order to do that, so there’s strong customer crossover between truck-accessory shops and the powersports market. Keystone offers products for both,” said Tom Gross, a powersports industry veteran of nearly 30 years and owner of Uni Filter, a manufacturer of high-performance polyurethane foam air filters and a top brand choice among serious off-roaders.

Keystone Automotive Operations, the leading and largest wholesale distributor of automotive aftermarket parts in North America, teamed up with two of its valued partners in the powersports industry, Terracross and Uni Filter, to educate retailers and restylers about the current state of business, market trends, crossover and diversification opportunities, as well as profit potential.

Side-by-Sides Leading the Way

Glenice Wilder, VP of Powersports EFG Companies, said the first quarter of the 2016 fiscal year was off to a positive start, as unit sales, dealer profitability, and maintenance service repairs are all trending upwards. But SxS sales are the true story, taking the industry by storm and nearly cannibalizing a once-dominant ATV market. According to Motorcycle & Powersports News, UTV sales are estimated to be in the neighborhood of 400,000 units, which is significantly higher than its ATV counterpart.

“The UTV has become a popular choice among families, sportsmen and off-roaders alike,” said Joe Duncan, owner of Terracross and a 20-year veteran of the industry with extensive experience in the snowmobile and SxS market segments. “It’s an estimated two-billion dollar segment that is expected to nearly double over the next two years. Whereas ATVs are a highly individualized activity, an entire family can enjoy a UTV experience together during all 12 months of the year, and so we’ve seen a shift (in demand),” he said.

Market data suggests that powersports consumers have one of the largest discretionary budgets, spending thousands of dollars on the unit itself and then several thousand more in aftermarket upgrades — not unlike many truck or Jeep consumers who are eager to customize their rig at the point of purchase with LED lighting, side steps, recovery items or front-end protection. “And that discretionary budget doesn’t end there. It includes an increased rate of replacement parts and maintenance service repairs associated with powersports recreation,” explained Duncan.

Do you see dollar signs yet? According to Steve Nessl, Yamaha ATV/SxS group marketing manager, “The SxS market is evolving, and that’s a good thing for dealers and consumers who will have more selling and buying options.” The result: An opportunity for retailers and restylers to attract new customers, diversify their business and share in the powersports profits — from aftermarket upgrades and personal equipment to repair and maintenance products.

Know Thy Market

Duncan of Terracross offered shop owners some candid advice to consider while exploring diversification opportunities in the powersports industry. “Powersports is a specific niche, so you’ve got to know the players, be knowledgeable about the units and aftermarket products, and share a passionate appreciation for the lifestyle,” said Duncan. “First rule of thumb is to know thy market,” he added. “What kind of powersports are in demand within your immediate area? Is there a body of water, a motocross track or trails?

Next, you want to get yourself involved in the local sport — attend an event, sponsor an event, talk to consumers at the event. Pick their brains about what products they’d like to see offered in your shop. You have to know what’s sellable! This is a loyal group of enthusiasts, and if you support them, they’ll support you.” Uni Filter’s Gross also suggested a handful of core products that will always be in demand among powersports users, including maintenance items, such as tires, filters, spark plugs, chains and belts.

Tap Into Sales and Profit Potential

“On average, accessories spending is about $2,000 the minute (customers) buy the (UTV). They may spend $6,000-$7,000 in accessories over the lifetime of the unit. If it’s being used in the racing circuit, guys could be spending $50,000-$60,000 when all is said and done between the engine, tranny and differential work,” said Terracross’ Duncan. “Bottom line, there’s a lot of sales potential and strong margins on powersports products, which help offset some of the margin pressures on the aftermarket side of the business,” added Gross. “Guys are towing their toys, so it’s a natural add-on sale for truck-accessory shops.”

And it doesn’t stop there! Above and beyond accessorizing, ATVs and UTVs virtually assure consistent work for service repair shops. “The rise of SxS sales represents plenty of tire changes, service work, parts and accessories profitability for dealers to cash in on,” reported Motorcycle & Powersports News. This provides retailers and restylers an opportunity to showcase the significant range of skills its technicians have to service crossover consumers in both the aftermarket and powersports industries.

Partner with a Distributor

“We’re always looking to bring on more enthusiasts and expand our powersports network,” said Duncan. But the powersports industry has a strict distribution model, so diversification must be done appropriately. Duncan and Gross suggested that retailers and restylers identify a target segment, conduct preliminary market research to determine what lines and products will best suit the needs of local consumers, and lean on the expertise of key manufacturers within the powersports space to direct them to the right distribution partner. “Keystone is dedicated to expanding the reach of the powersports industry by getting our automotive aftermarket customer base excited about and involved in the market,” said Jason Shatrowskas, Keystone category manager. “We carry dozens of powersports lines, many of them very strong crossover brands that make it an easier transition into this space for our automotive aftermarket customers.”

Diversification doesn’t need to be drastic. It can be as simple as stocking popular maintenance parts or as complex as broad inventory and repair service. Either way, consider the impressive opportunity that awaits. Let Keystone be your go-to team, helping you explore a new market, expand your customer reach and increase your company’s profitability.

 

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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