Keystone News

On The Jeep® Trail

Keystone's George Lathouris Shares Insight On How Retailers Can Profit From The Jeep® Market

It's clear that truck accessory manufacturers have embraced the Jeep® market for a reason. It's one of the fastest growing segments of the truck and SUV industry and is not showing any signs of slowing down. So manufacturers have jumped in, creating a variety of products that allow truck accessory retailers and restylers an opportunity to grow their businesses. From the viewpoint of a warehouse distributor, the Jeep trend can also give truck accessory retailers another avenue to grow their customer base too.

With 38 years of experience, former Chairperson of the SEMA LTAA and SEMA Person Of The Year, Keystone's George Lathouris, believes Jeep®s are one of the most exciting trends he's seen in recent years. "Overall, Jeep®s are more accepted for families, and because of that, the popularity of the vehicle has increased and is quickly becoming the second vehicle." For the truck accessory retailer, Lathouris says it's important to realize that a large portion of this growing Jeep® accessory market isn't necessarily made up of hardcore four-wheelers. In fact many truck accessory manufacturers who are now producing Jeep® products that are sold through WD's like Keystone, agree that the target market are those Jeep® owners who want to customize their vehicles to look good and perform off-road. Yet, most are primarily used for daily driving.

Because WD's like Keystone are quick to move on trends and carry a full line of Jeep® parts and accessories, truck accessory retailers can have a full supply of hard and soft goods available to them when they're ready to jump into this market. "I think is our job to have the right product to suit the marketplace and to deliver at the right time," says Lathouris. "It's important for retailers and restylers who work with WD's like Keystone, to take advantage of the trends to grow their business." Of the many brands and products Keystone carries, Lathouris says that retailers can't go wrong selling Jeep® soft goods and cargo solution products. In addition, should retailers get some hardcore off-roaders into their stores, Keystone has a supply of its branded products that can cater to those customers as well. "The Trail FX/ brand is a perfect example of this," says Lathouris. "It was developed in response to a changing marketplace. We began with bumpers, grille guards, and side steps, and then added items such as wheels and a high-quality recovery winch line for those retailers who have grown their Jeep® customer base. This variety gives jobbers high-quality products, that also satisfies consumer demands. It also allows Keystone to provide for reasonable support. In addition, these items are not just for Jeep®s, but can also be sold for fleets and work-trucks. So there's always ways to move product off the shelves."

As with any new market, retailers are often fearful of stocking new products and not being able to properly communicate with their customers. For those retailers, Lathouris has some suggestions on how to easily transition into selling Jeep® products. "The first thing any retailer should do is attend a Jeep® show to see what parts are popular and who the customers are. Right now there's a Jeep® show or gathering every weekend so it's easy to find something local," says Lathouris. "Retailers can also get online and see what Jeep® people are talking about, and what products they are interested in."

In addition, one of the easiest ways that Keystone can help retailers over their fears is to provide marketing materials and the company's 150 page Jeep® catalog. "At Keystone, we can supply retailers with popular products such as soft-tops, roof racks and any other item that are hot sellers right now," says Lathouris. "We also provide website support, marketing materials, and our Jeep® catalog can sit on the counter with the retailer's name on it. Customers can pick out what they want from the catalog and get it quickly without the retailer having to make any major inventory investment. The catalog is well thought out and is lifestyle specific, so new Jeep® customers to experienced off-roaders will find something they like."

While some retailers think that the Jeep® market has reached its peak, most believe it's not even near that point. "What the truck a retailer should pay attention to, is the amount of vehicles being sold," says Lathouris. "The data tells us that more Jeep®s are being sold year after year. It's a very vibrant and growing market in which the brand has been established and goes through a constant evolution." While the data shows that the Jeep® craze is still in full swing, it's important to jump in on the trends. With support from WDs and manufacturers, selling Jeep® products will continue to be profitable for retailers who added them to their inventory.

Recent Articles

COVID-19: How we are responding, a message from our President

 

 

To our trusted suppliers and customers:

 

The unprecedented effects of COVID-19 (coronavirus) are having a tremendous impact on our lives and businesses. The health, safety and wellbeing of our employees, customers and vendors is our primary concern and we are continuing to take actions to mitigate the risks across all our facilities based upon guidance provided by the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) and other public health authorities and resources. We continue to expect that all employees and drivers remain vigilant in maintaining proper hygiene habits in addition to social distancing. 

 

Our practices have been enhanced to include more frequent, regular cleaning and disinfecting of delivery vehicle surfaces such as interiors and steering wheels, remote controls on lifts, doorknobs and other areas of the vehicles that are frequently touched. We have also modified travel and in-person meeting policies appropriately and expect our employees stay home if they show symptoms or feel sick.

 

While we are actively monitoring the fluid developments of this situation, we also understand the importance of continuing to serve our customers and support the interests of our suppliers. Many of our customers and suppliers are small and medium-sized, independent businesses and as a vital component of the supply chain, we are remaining true to our mission in the attempt to mitigate the impact on these businesses and their communities.  In the furtherance of this objective, we continue to receive and process orders and maintain deliveries except where limited by government restrictions.

 

We understand the economic realities of this unprecedented situation and their potential impact on our industry and believe that in staying the course, we can limit the disruption to our business partners.  We are confident that this challenge will pass, and we will move forward together.

 

We wish you safety and health and thank you for your continued business.

 

Thank you,

Bill Rogers

eKey App Used by Over 1000 Jobbers
The eKey Mobile App launched early 2019. No more were Jobbers tied to a computer terminal. The app gave the flexibility to access eKeystone tools from anywhere they choose. In addition to Year/Make/Model and VIN barcode reader, Jobbers can use the Smart Search tool they are familiar with from the eKey website. It doesn’t stop there, once the parts are orders on the app, Jobbers can track the status of their delivery truck, ensuring that service schedules can be maintained. The app is available for download on the iTunes App Store and Google Play.
Keystone Automotive Launches Exclusive Interactive Garage Integration
Keystone Automotive Operations, distributor and marketer of automotive aftermarket products and services, has now exclusively integrated Interactive Garage, a virtual custom vehicle build visualizer, into its dealer transactional portal, eKeystone.com.

This new tool allows Trial and Premium subscribers to the eKeystone.com platform a visual sales tool to demonstrate to their customers exactly how their selected parts and accessories will appear on their vehicles prior to purchase and installation.

“It is important to us that we continue to develop enhancements to the eKeystone user experience for our jobbers while providing them with tools designed to assist the sales process and help them grow their businesses,” says Keystone vice president, category management, Larry Montante. “We believe that high-quality services such as Keystone Interactive Garage add significant value to our eKeystone Premium users with an easy-to-use tool that their customers will appreciate.”

Accessed via eKeystone.com, the Keystone Interactive Garage features 38 base vehicles sorted by year make and model, along with their corresponding color options and at launch, features more than 10,000 individual part variations from nearly 90 participating suppliers. Customized builds can be provided to in-store customers as a printout while the parts themselves can be added to the eKeystone cart with a single click.

“We developed Interactive Garage to be the perfect complimentary sales tool for jobbers, dealerships, and accessory manufacturers to provide the best user experience for the ultimate customer: the end consumer,” states Interactive Garage CEO and founder, Ryan Hagel. “Teaming up with Keystone provides our platform significant access into the marketplace that will aid in the acceleration of aftermarket product sales through visual vehicle personalization for users across the U.S. and Canada.”

This addition to the platform is now available and included with eKeystone Premium subscriptions. A customized version is also offered that delivers jobbers the ability to manage their retail pricing, customize the look and feel of the user interface, and incorporate the tool into their own websites.

“We’re receiving a tremendous response to Keystone Interactive Garage from our jobbers as well as our supplier partners,” added Montante. “With new parts being added daily, we will continue to expand the product offerings and with it, the variety of custom build options.”

2019 SEMA Show attendees will have the opportunity to learn more about the Keystone Interactive Garage when they visit the Keystone Booth #21249, while those who will not be attending the show are encouraged to speak to their Keystone representative for more information or visit: http://wwwsc.ekeystone.com/KIG.
Cap-it International partners with Keystone Automotive

EXETER, PA (September 10, 2019) - Today, Andrew Funk, President of Cap-it International, announces a partnership with Keystone Automotive Operations, Inc. as a Designated Supplier of Automotive parts and accessories to its 29 Cap-it Genuine Truckware locations across Canada and the United States.

Previously, Cap-it locations were serviced by Western Warehouse, a Wholesale Distributor of light truck accessories based in Western Canada owned by the Funk family.

“Since our beginning in 1977, Cap-it has been focused on providing an exceptional retail experience to our customers with a selection of light truck, adventure, and power sports accessories that is second to none. We believe this partnership will allow us to accelerate our efforts expanding the Cap-it Brand across North America. With Keystone’s exceptional service and inventory, they are the perfect partner to allow us to focus on growth while at the same time ensuring our franchisees and customers receive the best service possible.”

“We are excited to partner with the Cap-it team. Our mission and values match up nicely with theirs. Hank and Andrew have built an impressive business model focused on providing the best possible customer experience.” said Bill Rogers, President of Keystone Automotive Operations, “We have been servicing the Cap-it locations for many years and we are excited about the opportunity to significantly expand the partnership and enable their growth plans.”

Since 1990, Cap-it® Genuine TruckwareTM has established itself as a world-class retailer of quality truck accessories and camping products. Because Life’s an Adventure®, Cap-it’s 29 stores across North America provide customers and their vehicles lifestyle solutions for both work and recreation.

About Keystone Automotive Operations:

Keystone Automotive Operations 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.

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