Keystone News

  • 3/9/2016 12:00:00 AM
  • Bradley Worrell

Bill Rogers stepped into the role of vice president and general manager for NTP-STAG in July 2015, during an especially hectic time for the RV parts distributor. About the same time Rogers took the helm, the company reorganized its top management team, it began its consolidation and reorganization of Coast Distribution’s operations following the acquisition, it continued its integration of Stag-Parkway’s operations after acquiring that distributor in October 2014, and it continued with its intensive planning for The Expo, it’s first combined NTP-STAG distributor show and what is believed to be the largest RV aftermarket show ever.

Some might find juggling those various responsibilities daunting, but then Rogers is no stranger to holding executive leadership positions in supply chain management, with a long track record of working for such companies as General Electric, Textron/ Bell Helicopter and Keystone Automotive, the parent company of NTP-STAG.

“My job is really easy, given I am surrounded by an excellent team of competent, passionate and highly experienced professionals,” he says modestly. “My emphasis is on keeping us focused, removing obstacles and bureaucracy, and on customer satisfaction.”

As the NTP-STAG show was winding down on Jan. 20, Rogers took time out of his busy schedule to talk with RV PRO about the show, the state of the company’s ongoing process of integrating three national RV distributors, the combined company’s expanded services to assist dealers, and its overall plans moving forward.

RV PRO: With the acquisitions of Stag-Parkway and Coast Distribution now behind you, what’s the message you want to get out to the industry, especially for dealers attending this show?

Rogers: I think our overall intent is to take the opportunity to say, ‘We’re not some big (corporation) that has no face. We’re all of the same people you’ve dealt with forever.’ Nothing has changed.

In fact, hopefully we’ve done a good job of integrating and taking the best of everything (from NTP, Stag and Coast) in a well-balanced manner and with a broad section of the people from those organizations and applying it to the task at-hand.

And to be really humble about it, in all honesty. We understand there are options, we really do. And if we don’t do things the right way, shame on us; it’s ours to lose. We have to do the right things and earn the business we have.

RV PRO: Where are you in the integration process today? Are things basically wrapped up, or is there still more to do?

Rogers: No, things aren’t done. Yes, there are things left to do.

I think we’ve integrated seven warehouses out of 17. At this point, we are focused on the execution of The Expo and the show orders and that activity. So, there’s nothing more planned for the next few months at this point. But I guess, overall, I would say that, by the end of 2016, we should be mostly done.

RV PRO: When the integration is complete, what do you envision the company will look like?

Rogers: I think it will end up looking like an expanded version of NTP-STAG. With the resources and the combination of the people, processes and systems, I think we will have more and more customer satisfaction, more customer service options, enhancements to systems, broader offerings, and just continue to work on satisfying customers.

RV PRO: So, NTP-STAG Coast, a Keystone Automotive company, seems like a bit of a mouthful. Any thoughts on a possible company name change moving forward?

Rogers: That’s a great question, and everyone is focused on it. … I think, once we get through the integration, we’ll come up with some name that makes sense for the business going forward.

I think that name will probably be separate from the Keystone or the automotive side, because Keystone on the automotive side has a long history and it makes sense to keep it in place on that side.

It was easy when it was NTP-STAG; it seemed to fit together. We had a nice solution for that. … So, maybe we just retain NTP-STAG, or maybe we just start with something new altogether to keep it fresh.

RV PRO: To what extent do you see the combined company keeping any of the specific elements that were distinct to NTP and Stag and Coast?

Rogers: We have taken a good examination of each of the businesses and gotten input from each of the organizations to say: What do we do well? What do we not do so well? How does it fit into the logistics structure that we’ll press on with?

In terms of things like the shows, the marketing, how we set up, and who we put in place in terms of the inside and outside sales force: All of those things are where most of the opportunities are to get feedback from both our internal folks and from our customers. Whatever elements of the businesses are retained will be the result of that input.

RV PRO: Of course, Coast had its own line of branded products, such as the Husky towing products, the Faulkner furniture and the Powerhouse generators. Has there been a determination yet as to whether the combined company will continue to sell those products?

Rogers: Yes, they will be offered moving forward. There’s no reason not to continue to support those lines. There are customers that are depending upon those lines today.

They are a brand that Coast created. Whether we would have taken that same approach, who knows? But our ownership of those brands is certainly something that we wouldn’t do anything to hurt.

What I will tell you is that, on the branded products, those are our focus. We won’t put a Coast proprietary product ahead of a branded product in terms of emphasis.

But if a customer likes the Coast products … and likes the value proposition that goes with those, then we completely support that and we’re not doing anything to change that part of the business. We’ll support it and we’ll see how it goes.

RV PRO: Meanwhile, Stag-Parkway was always known for its strong educational emphasis, especially its Professional Retailer Organization (PRO) program. Will that continue to be an emphasis for the combined company moving forward?

Rogers: For 2016, it is absolutely a priority for us to support the industry in education. As we mentioned this morning, we’ve done a lot of work to try to get the PRO offering to be consistent and approved by the (RV Dealers Association’s) Mike Molino Learning Center. It’s under review now and we’re pretty confident it will be helpful in terms of those certifications … for parts manager and service manager positions. Those are the current things I think will contribute to us helping in that area.

What we are challenged now, though, to do – and this is something I feel very strongly about – is how do we get more techs into the RV market? Because, there is a real supply issue with techs. One thing I hear consistently from all the dealers is: ‘There’s not enough techs. And, we have a hard time getting and retaining techs.’

To the extent that we can help increase the supply of technicians, I think it’s a huge win for us, personally, and for the dealers. Because they’ll write more business and we’ll get some portion of that. So, I think it’s a win-win.

Our intent is to work with RVIA, work with RVDA, and work with any other organization that we can help support with our training facilities, putting parts in place to help with training, maybe facilitating suppliers getting together. So, there’s lot of help we can provide and we are very interested in doing it.

RV PRO: If you would, talk a bit about what kinds of facilities you have in place now to serve dealers, and what your plans are moving forward.

Rogers: We had six distribution centers in place to serve dealers. We added a seventh distribution center, just outside of Detroit, in Brownstown. The square footage on that is 360,000 square feet, and that started operation at the first of the year. That warehouse will service the whole Canadian and upper-Midwest market.

In addition to that, we have a new warehouse coming online in the beginning of the second quarter in Spokane, Wash. That will be 250,000 square feet, and that will replace the distribution center we have in Wilsonville, Ore., which is about 100,000 square feet. So, it’s bigger and it’s farther north, so strategically we can get to more places, certainly in the provinces of Canada. So that is underway and being set up as we speak.

In addition to that, our cross-dock changes are kind of dynamic: We have opened new cross-docks in several areas.

Meanwhile, we did additional incremental space to our Kansas City distribution center that added 60,000 square feet with a building addition. And then in Corona, in Southern California, there was a portion of the warehouse building we didn’t occupy before. The tenant moved out and we were able to grab that, so we added another 30,000 square feet and now occupy the whole building.

Also, I’d note we’ve added 90 cube vans, 27 tractors and 152 drivers to our fleet service.

RV PRO: Based in part on where your new warehouses are located, it seems like the Canadian market is taking on even more importance for your combined company than the previously individual distributors? What’s ahead for the company in serving that market?

Rogers: Actually, Coast had a big presence up there and NTPSTAG had a growing presence up there. Now we have the opportunity to continue that. … So, with the combined entities we now have the volume to support programs we’re known so well for in the U.S., like merchandising store sets, personalized catalog programs, direct mail programs, etc. All of those things now can be supported because of the base that has been set, so it’s a great avenue for them.

RV PRO: You’ve talked about how the combined company will benefit customers in the U.S. and Canada. What do you say to those who express concern about what distributor consolidation means for the aftermarket?

Rogers: I think we were a little slow to try to address that (concern) with our customer base, so they understood who we are and what our intentions were, better. … That wasn’t the real focus for us; we were focused on the nuts and bolts of making sure the integrations went right on the logistics side, and that we were servicing them as best we could. But we lacked in the communication, in telling them who we were and the why.

Their concern, while understandable, shouldn’t be a big focus for them. We are going to be here to service their needs and there continues to be strong competition; dealers still have many options. … To the extent we can put our customers at ease, that’s going to be our focus.

RV PRO: Subsequent to NTP-STAG’s acquisition of Coast, Meyer, Land ‘N’ Sea and now Camping World have all announced plans to enter the RV parts distribution business. Has that surprised you?

Rogers: My view is that, if there’s opportunity, people are going to get into the business. I assume they see an opportunity. So, I’m not surprised by it. ...

I think it speaks to the vitality of the industry. When you look at the growth in unit sales, it’s amazing. When you follow any global company now, they would all love to be doing business in the U.S. And the RV business is primarily a U.S. and a Northern American business, as we see it. ...

Now, we feel like we’re in a good position to be a good answer to the customers’ needs. But again, if we don’t continue to meet dealers’ needs and exceed their expectations, somebody else will. That’s just the way things work.

RV PRO: Speaking of the RV market, are you optimistic about it for 2016, particularly as it relates to your company?

Rogers: I do have high expectations for the overall industry and for NTP-STAG. All of the things that make it attractive are still there. … I think RVIA and RVDA and the combination of the Go RVing campaign does a great job of trying to attract new entrants to the market and increase the overall market. I think people are doing good things to increase the market interest, and I think (lower) gas prices are certainly helpful.

During and after the recession, there’s been a strong demand for retailing parts and providing service. As dealers benefit, we expect to see gains as well.

RV PRO: What details can you share at this point about next year’s show?

Rogers: Anaheim is what we’re planning for next year (Jan. 30-31); we’re very excited about that. That venue, I think, offers something new and fresh.

I would just expect us to build on what we’ve done at this year’s show in New Orleans, which has been great.

 

  • 3/7/2016 12:00:00 AM
  • Bradley Worrell and Jesse Sidlauskas

The first show since NTP, Stag-Parkway and Coast Distribution all combined offered one large buying venue for dealers.

NEW ORLEANS – More than 2,500 people turned out for NTP-STAG’s distributor show, dubbed The Expo, to shop from nearly 200 exhibitors.

This year’s show, at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, marked the first time that formerly separate distributors NTP, STAG and Coast Distribution were all together under one roof as a combined company. And while show officials didn’t release numbers, the expectation was that it would be the largest RV distributor show ever in terms of dealer turnout and sales.

“We don’t have the numbers in yet, but we’ve definitely exceeded any show we’ve done before, so we’re real pleased,” said Bill Rogers, NTP-STAG vice president and general manager. “I’m sure the numbers will exceed anything we’ve done in the past.”

For their part, vendors remarked positively on the volume of traffic and commerce throughout the two-day show.

“It’s gone very well,” Chase Healy, Furrion director of specialty vehicle sales, said late in the closing day of the two-day event. “We’ve sold a lot of product.”

“Sales-wise, it was huge for us,” said Bob Brammer, president of Stromberg Carlson, who noted the company saw particularly strong orders for its jacks. The NTP-STAG show “exceeded our expectations,” he added.

“It went well; we moved a lot of systems – even better than we expected going in,” said Erik Guldager, national sales manager, mobile products, for Winegard. The supplier launched three major products at the NTP- STAG show and got “an incredibly good response on our new, low-cost Dish Playmaker satellite product. Dealer feedback on that product was wonderful,” he said.

Valterra CEO George Grengs commented favorably on the “excellent dealer attendance,” noting that “it looked to be the largest show on record for the RV aftermarket.” Valterra reported that its best sellers at the show included its Dominator Sewer Kits and its Pure Power and Odorlos Tank Treatments.

Debuting New Ordering Technology

The busy opening afternoon led to a shortage of order forms as dealers stopped by on the opening day to pick up forms as part of a shopping process. Still, by the next day, the buyers’ demand for order forms appeared met, leaving vendors to collect purchases throughout much of the day.

In future years, the need for a paper supply could become a contingency, as NTP-STAG tested an electronic ordering system on 49 iPads at the show. That system operates like many online shopping carts, allowing buyers to search through the NTP-STAG parts catalog for stock keeping units (SKUs) from NTP, Stag and Coast. Totals are given in either Canadian or U.S. dollars, based on preference.

NTP-STAG’s parent company, Keystone Automotive, first tested the idea with a smaller batch of iPads at an automotive show in Canada in July. The distributor used the NTP-STAG show to debut a larger rollout of the technology.

Patrick Stevenson, who oversees information technology for NTP-STAG, said that the idea is to eventually replace the paper shopping and ordering system with a more advanced version of the electronic system being tested.

“The engine is just a search, and it differs from VIA as a value to suppliers,” he said. “It’s a cross- reference search for parts, so you’re not going to look by part type to find (for example) a hitch, but if I know my part type – whether its NTP, Stag, Coast or manufacturer part number – the results start to narrow down.”

As he punched a number into the search bar, a dropdown list populated and began to narrow product options as he reached the end of the SKU, before finally offering options of products.

The electronic system has some advantages over the paper standard, Stevenson said. Most notably, a full electronic rollout – which the company hopes to achieve in the coming years – would minimize the amount of paper used at the shows.

“The amount of paper that is used at a combined event like this is monumental,” Stevenson said. “We brought more paper to this show than we did all four automotive big shows in the spring, and the demand has been overwhelming.”

Still, it is unlikely that the paper system will ever become entirely obsolete, according to Stevenson, who noted that it will likely play a role as a backup to the electronic system in the future.

“You always want to have a Plan B because you’re subject to connectivity challenges,” he said. “So we’ll always have a Plan B in the form of paper, but the goal is to go into the electronic era full steam ahead, and then maybe in conjunction with some combination of devices at booths and/or devices within the customer’s hands.”

Terry Trailer Auction Garners Money for Hall of Fame

At the close of the show on Jan. 20, NTP-STAG officials named the winner of a silent auction for a fully restored 1978 Terry travel trailer, with all proceeds being donated to the RV/MH Hall of Fame.

Urs Buechin, owner of Heidi’s RV Superstore in Hawkestone, Ontario, won the auction, with a winning bid of $20,300.

“NTP-STAG believes in the RV Hall of Fame mission, and we are happy to offer up the Project Terry Trailer as a fundraising tool to help the Hall of Fame continue its good work,” John Spaulding, NTP-STAG marketing director, RV said. “All the proceeds of the silent auction, plus a $5,000 contribution by NTP-STAG will go the the RV Hall of Fame.”

The trailer was restored with new brakes, bearings, hubs, tires and wheels, as well as siding, an awning, a new roof, vents and graphics. On the interior, new lights, toilet, sinks, tanks, furnace, air conditioning, refrigerator, range, water heater, furniture, counters, floors and woodwork were installed.

Project Terry sponsors include Carefree of Colorado, Coleman-Mach, Dicor, Husky Towing Products, JR Products, Norcold, Powerhouse Products, Suburban, Thetford, Valterra, Ventline by Dexter and Winegard.

 

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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