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Business Building For The Ages

Pros Weigh In On Growth Opportunities At SEMA Show 2016

Where else can you spend four days wowed by outrageous custom vehicles and celebrity appearances, as well as rub shoulders with more than 2,400 exhibiting manufacturers and 60,000-plus domestic and international buyers? The SEMA Show, of course!

As the premier automotive specialty products trade event in the world, SEMA provides retailers and restylers with the convenience of having many industry influencers under one roof and the freedom to explore those brands without an obligation to purchase on site.

Aftermarket manufacturers and OEMs are eager to woo attendees with vehicles and products that showcase excellence in engineering, fabrication, and design, and they spare no expense unveiling the next generation of innovative concepts. In fact, more than 2,500 newly introduced parts, tools and components will be on display in the New Products Showcase this year. These benefits lie at the feet of attendees as means to bolster sales, profit, diversification and relationship-building opportunities throughout the year.

So it goes without saying that a retailer or restyler’s attendance offers many benefits that far exceed a few days on the Show floor. Ron DiVincenzo, general manager of Cap World in Melrose, Mass., urges people to attend the SEMA Show with a sense of purpose. “Be ready to engage. Otherwise, you will wander the Show floor aimlessly in awe of everything you see. Vegas is a fun town, but don’t forget why you are there. Use this as a time to network with your peers, and be a sponge, soaking up everything you possibly can,” he said.

Keystone Automotive Operations -- the leading and largest wholesale distributor of specialty aftermarket parts and equipment in North America -- is a proud SEMA member and Show exhibitor for more than 20 years. To provide retailers and restylers with some veteran guidance and words of wisdom while attending the SEMA Show, Keystone teamed up with a few seasoned industry professionals. Here’s what they had to say.

 

Speaking From Experience

Kathryn Reinhardt, MagnaFlow marketing manager and 2015 SEMA Person of the Year

- The New Products Showcase is a great place to start. This is where all the manufacturers dream of winning the best new product of the year and hope to impress buyers with the next best thing.

- Attend the manufacturers’ press conferences, which are no longer just for press. Get the inside scoop, witness car unveilings and hear about new products and new partnerships.

- Consider going to the LTAA media day on Monday, Oct. 31, (open to registered media only) to see some of the top manufacturers’ products before the show even begins. It’s an ideal time to have those one-on-one talks that sometimes can’t happen on the Show floor.

- Attend after-hours events! Tuesday, Nov. 1 is the YEN reception, Wednesday is the LTAA reception and Thursday is the SEMA Banquet. All are sponsored by SEMA with drinks and food, and all are prime places to meet rising stars in the industry.

 

Ryan Herman, executive VP, Extang, TruXedo, Advantage Truck Accessories, Retrax and BAK

- Each retailer and restyler should take stock in his or her business and be perceptive of new opportunities to grow. What areas are doing well? What areas could use help? Are there any new trends to consider?

- Once pen is to paper and there is a set plan for attending, then make sure to review the itinerary carefully. Really consider the companies that are most important to visit and be sure to allow enough time to talk to the right people.

- Pack a snack when taking time to visit the New Products Showcase -- there are an awful lot of great products to see!

- Consider bringing an empty suitcase to hold all of the materials gathered during the Show, or bring some pre-printed FedEx or UPS forms and envelopes to ship the materials home/to the store each evening.

- Bring plenty of business cards and be sure to collect just as many from those you meet along the way!

 

Maximizing Your Show Experience

George Lathouris, director of U.S. sales, Keystone Automotive Operations

- Get on the SEMA Show website and make sure to identify who is an absolute must, to connect with and where the companies are located. Then schedule appointments accordingly by hall to ensure face-to-face time with those most important to your business. This approach avoids wasting precious time walking back and forth between North, South and Central Halls.

- Spend time at the OE manufacturers’ booths to see what platforms they are focusing on and how that affects the aftermarket and a shop’s future business.

- Swipe the SEMA Show (buyer) card to have manufacturers send catalogs after the Show -- carrying all those books can slow anyone down.

 

Kevin Krieg, owner, S&K Speed Racing Equipment, Lindenhurst, NY

- Think about the business goals for attending the Show and stick to the priorities.

- Consider taking a few people, so everyone can spread out and cover as much ground as possible individually. Assign specific tasks to everyone attending within the group and don’t stay at one place too long.

- Plan to be at the Show from day one through the very end -- from the time the doors open until closing in order to maximize the exposure.

- Avoid the Vegas temptation of late nights and drinking at the casinos. Everyone is here to do business -- be ready to strike early, meet up with current vendors to put names with faces, and be open to new things, new lines and new people (to help grow your business).

 

Charlie Card, owner, Vehicle Accessories Inc., Flint, Mich.

- Map out all appointments via the SEMA Show floor plan or the app to maximize time spent on the floor and minimize the time spent walking -- wear good walking shoes!

- Go to the receptions that match up to your business (LTAA, PRO, WTC, etc.). Get involved and meet people who know the industry.

- Don't discount the importance of training classes and seminars.

- Failing to consider crossover products will cost any shop additional business. Being open to diversification doesn’t mean changing one’s core competency -- just complement it!

 

Additional Facts

According to SEMA:

80% of attendees are primarily interested in seeing new products.

78% of attendees want to ignite ideas.

72% of attendees are set on keeping up with trends.

60 percent and 65 percent of attendees respectively want to connect with existing customers or seek new vendor partnerships.

 

What Keystone Is Up To At SEMA

Visit the Keystone team and its affiliate booths for a chance to win a prize!

Keystone Automotive Operations: Central Hall, Booth 21249

FX Products: South Hall, Booth 34091

FX Vehicle: Outside South Hall, Space 542

Coast to Coast: South Hall, Booth 33091

 

Recent Articles

Keystone Automotive Announces 2019 RAM Project: The TerraRAM

Exeter, PA – Keystone Automotive Operations announced during its BIG Show at the Gaylord Texan in Grapevine, TX, plans to build a customized 2019 RAM 1500 show vehicle – the TerraRAM.  Modeled to be the Ultimate Overland Adventure Vehicle, the TerraRam will be a fully self-contained, on- and off-road explorer that combines rugged good looks with the latest technology and performance improvement products available in the aftermarket.

 

“We wanted this project to be a collaborative one where we have a chance to showcase the products and brands going into the build along with our customers that will be instrumental in putting the whole thing together,” says Larry Montante, VP of Category Management. Playing off the BIG Show theme, “The Ultimate Road Trip”, TerraRAM will be taken on a year-long odyssey that will feature Keystone customers contributing to the build along the way. Larry adds, “We think it will be a terrific way to build a community around the project and shine a bright light on the suppliers and installers that help make it happen.”

 

Shrouded under a cover on the exhibit hall floor during BIG Show, the TerraRAM drew a lot of attention and questions from attendees and exhibitors. “The show is a great platform to create some excitement for the project. We have a clear vision about the features we want to build into the truck and look forward to flushing out the finer details over the next 30 days as we sift through the proposals we received from suppliers that want to be part of the project,” says Larry. “Suffice it to say, the TerraRAM will embody the spirit of travel wherever the road leads.”

 

Plans for the TerraRAM include featuring the latest in solar and satellite technology to improve off-grid connectivity. Additionally, extensive suspension improvements, exterior and interior upgrades, performance enhancements and a few surprises from Keystone’s RV supplier partners will help make the vehicle a home on the road. The company’s goal is to deliver a comfortable, self-sustained earth traveler that can thrive in the most remote locations and harshest conditions. 

 

The truck will be equipped for boondocking, rock-hopping and interstate travel (but only as a last resort) and have an extensive array of technology and performance products provided by the distributor’s supplier partners. “Through terraRAM we hope to illustrate the value aftermarket products have in helping enthusiasts realize their vision for how they want their vehicles to look and be used,” commented Harneet Kaur, Directory of Marketing at Keystone.

 

According to Kaur, this TerraRAM is more than a typical truck build project. “While our intention is to create a vehicle capable of far reaching journeys, we also intend to follow the journey that makes it capable,” she says.  By documenting the build and following the vehicle across the country as it goes from stock to the TerraRAM, the company hopes the product and installer profiles they produce and promote on social media and other select media outlets, creates awareness and interest for the sponsors’ products and the vehicle itself.

 

Keystone invites the industry and enthusiasts everywhere to take part in the TerraRAM’s journey in 2019 by following the project on Keystone Social Media Channels, TheEngineBlock.com and selected media outlets.  

 

Keystone is the leading distributor and marketer of automotive aftermarket 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.


70 New Suppliers to Exhibit at BIG Show

EXETER, PA – Keystone Automotive Operations’ BIG Show is adding a lot of new features… and exhibitors to its event March 8-9 at the Gaylord Texan in Grapevine, Texas.  In addition to a Warn sponsored keynote by Ken Schmidt, a double-header concert featuring Tim Montana and Karen Waldrup and casino night presented by WeatherGard, the BIG show is attracting new suppliers as exhibitors like never before.

“We have more than 70 suppliers exhibiting this year that weren’t at our 2018 event,” says John Spaulding, Director of Events for Keystone Automotive Operations. “The interest in BIG Show as a way for suppliers to connect with jobbers, dealers, installers and retailers continues to grow. Our show platform is becoming the premier destination for introducing new products, selling to new customers and engaging with the market in ways that most of us can’t in our day-to-day roles. It’s a vital part of our business and we know our customers and suppliers look forward to it every year.”

New items are essential to the aftermarket and its more than just model year changeover that’s driving new product development. Innovative solutions for improving vehicle performance, whether it’s suspension, exhaust, engine, tires and wheels or accessories that enhance the overall functionality, are creating sales opportunities for aftermarket product resellers and installers. Events like BIG Show play a pivotal role in showcasing these opportunities and connecting all the supply chain players in an effort to grow sales for everyone.

“The show experience has been designed to focus on new products,” says Spaulding. “We have a New Products Showcase with more than 180 new items on display. In addition, 36 companies are exhibiting new Point-of-Purchase tools that give our attendees ideas about how to merchandise and sell new products in their stores.” New suppliers will be highlighted on the BIG Show floor map and will be prominently featured throughout the event.

Brand new suppliers to Keystone will be showcased in a special sales promotion at BIG Show. Golden tickets representing extra bonus discounts will be given to every attendee. The tickets can be used for purchases from the 40 exhibitors at the event that are new to Keystone.

“Our sales initiatives and on-the-floor activity are all about helping our customers grow their business,” states Vice President of Sales for Keystone Automotive Operations, Fred Petrivelli. “We know that these new product and new lines can have an incredible impact on their sales and profits and want to make sure they are aware of the opportunities so they can make informed decisions about the best way to serve their customers and their businesses in the future,” he adds.

The Keystone BIG Show is the industry’s largest distributor event in North America drawing thousands of attendees from Canada and the United States. Host to more than 200 exhibiting companies, nearly 100 show vehicles and an agenda packed with special events and networking opportunities, the BIG Show is the place to be March 8-9 in Grapevine, TX.

Keystone is the leading distributor and marketer of automotive aftermarket 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’s Parts Via Program to add Broader e-Commerce Reach and Loyalty Benefits for Its Members

Exeter, PA - In 2017, Keystone Automotive Operations launched Parts Via, an innovative sales network that linked organic site traffic at its brand  partner’s websites to local brick and mortar business via a “Buy Now” button. The profits from the online transactions are shared among the participating supplier partners and dealers while the free, ship-to-store delivery option served as a catalyst for driving consumer traffic to the local business. This new, incremental business stimulated add-on sales, installation revenue and service opportunities, furthering the value of the Parts Via Program to its membership.

The company announced that it is launching Phase II of Parts Via to the automotive aftermarket during its annual BIG Show March 8-9, 2019 at the Gaylord Texan in Grapevine, TX. This phase includes program enhancements that expand e-commerce reach through a consumer facing website and marketplace store. In addition, Parts Via members will be part of a new customer Parts Via loyalty program.

“Our development roadmap for Parts Via has always included growing the network though enhanced tools and participation,” stated Bill Rogers, President of Keystone. “We recognized early on that a consumer’s path to purchase is one with many forks and the decisions made by them along their journey impact where the final purchase is made. We wanted to build a program that put our partners in the best competitive position to capture the sale regardless of where and when a consumer chooses to buy something, whether it is in a store or online.” He concludes.

Keystone will be previewing its new consumer website www.partsvia.com during the BIG Show as part of the Phase II rollout. The site will complement the “Buy Now” functionality on partner sites and have the added benefit of hosting all the Parts Via partner products in one location. The new site will include a robust parts look-up tool, fresh content and ship-to-store / ship-to-home options. “This will further expand the opportunity for our brick and mortar Network Dealers to participate in an on-line sale that may have otherwise gone around them.”  Also, a new appointment scheduling feature that will allow Parts Via Network Dealers to promote available installation times will be added soon.

Understanding the sheer volume of business generated through online marketplaces that brick and mortar businesses are not participating in, prompted the company to look for a solution that allows their customers to claw back some of that lost revenue. Keystone has launched its Parts Via Amazon Marketplace store. This storefront will sell products under the Parts Via banner and generate similar benefits for the member Network Dealers. The storefront’s current 2,661 SKUS are made up of high-volume MAP brands that help maintain margins throughout the supply chain.

“As we thought about the introduction of Parts Via Phase II, we wanted to leverage some of the unique capabilities we are providing our customers and wrap them into a loyalty program,” said Larry Montante, VP Category Management. “We are introducing the Parts Via Loyalty program in conjunction with the Phase II launch.” The new loyalty program employs a tiered approach to participation that makes getting involved easy and scalable for future growth regardless of a business’s size, focus or markets served. As a Parts Via Network Dealer’s participation and engagement with Keystone grows so to do the benefits of being in the Parts Via Loyalty Program.

The dealer’s benefits will be determined by their status within the Silver, Gold and Platinum levels of the program. Some examples of the benefits include dealer web locator placement and positioning, Parts Via profit share, installation network inclusion, marketing support, BIG Show benefits, preferred product access, exclusive promotional opportunities, unique travel and event incentives, and Keystone services incentives.

“Just like airline mileage programs, we intend to award points and member benefits based on sales and other goals,” says Montante. He adds, “We will be using an online rewards tracking program that will allow our customers to monitor their status in real time and redeem their points on a variety of member rewards.” The availability of these new tools and services will allow Keystone to expand the Parts Via value proposition to its Brand Partners and Network Dealers driving more business back into local businesses.   

Keystone is the leading distributor and marketer of automotive aftermarket 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.

Keystone Now Offers Black Horse Off Road

Keystone Automotive Operations Inc. has added Black Horse Off Road to its stable of truck and off-road product offerings.

Long Island-based Black Horse Off Road has grown from a small wholesaler of accessories to a nationally-recognized brand during the past 15 years, according to Keystone. The company offers grille guards, bull bars, brush guards, safari bars, hard tonneau covers, no-drill side step systems and running boards, bumper guards, lighting solutions, and electric winches.

The company’s latest offering, the Black Horse Armour Bull Bar, is constructed of heavy-duty stainless steel in an aggressive and modern angular design, available for a variety of makes and models.

Black Horse Off Road recently announced a partnership with American Luxury Coach (ALC), which debuted a limited-edition Black Horse Series 2019 Chevy Silverado 1500 at SEMA 2018.

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