For the January 2022 AMN/Counterman cover story, we spoke with a number of distribution, retail, and association executives who shared their perspectives and insights on the secondary market in 2022. We also ask them some fun “blitz” questions that you won’t want to miss.
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In Part 6 of our Industry Insights series, we hear from Sue Godschalk, President of Federated Auto Parts.
What did your organization accomplish in 2021 that you are most proud of?
Last year, the federated team was determined to regain some sense of normalcy. We are placing more emphasis on finding ways to help our members improve their businesses. We ran a very successful sales-focused promotion that benefited both our members and vendor partners, and we linked this promotion to the Federated 400 NASCAR race in Richmond, Virginia. We also focused on improvements in areas such as training and data services. We have worked hard to help our members increase their sales while focusing on improving efficiency at the head office with more emphasis on reducing expenses and cross-training employees.
When supply chain disruption created another challenge, the situation was made less painful for our members with the Federated Co-Man Warehouse. The Federated Co-Man operation was able to fill orders for many products that members had difficulty sourcing from vendors. Having talented buyers and dedicated employees at our Co-Man location has helped keep shelves stocked at our member locations.
I am so proud of the leadership and federated members and as they continue to prove they are determined, innovative and resilient. I look forward to an even stronger 2022.
What are the top trends that could impact your business in 2022?
Supply chain disruption remains a top concern for 2022. Many businesses continue to experience shipping delays, making it difficult to fulfill orders. I think we can also expect to see a huge amount of resulting price changes continue into 2022, and continued labor shortages will have a major effect on business. I believe COVID-19 will continue to impact labor shortages, as will the uncertainty surrounding the implementation of a new federal vaccine mandate.
In 2021, we have seen a shift in consumer vehicle preferences. Light trucks (pickup trucks, SUVs, SUVs) have become a larger part of the overall vehicle fleet. I think this trend will continue in 2022. Spare parts for these vehicles generally cost more. Plus, these are the types of vehicles that consumers like to accessorize — both positives for aftermarket sales.
Another trend that will continue to be strong in the coming year and beyond is online retail. Prior to COVID-19, many automotive companies were hesitant to offer online ordering to consumers. Statistics have clearly shown that selling online has become the new normal.
The increase in the production of electric vehicles with digital technology will certainly have an impact on the secondary market. Everything indicates that electric vehicles will arrive sooner rather than later. I expect OEMs to create EV-specific maintenance plans in an effort to convince consumers that they are the only qualified source to work on these vehicles. Having trained technicians with access to vehicle repair specifications, along with the appropriate diagnostic equipment, will be essential for independent repair shops to manage the complexity of the next generation of vehicles.
What do you see as the biggest opportunity in the automotive aftermarket right now?
The increase in used vehicle sales will certainly benefit aftermarket sales. All indicators show that the demand for used vehicles will remain high. Late-model used vehicles feature the latest technology, requiring auto repair shops to have well-trained technicians to properly install parts and service vehicles. As consumers keep their vehicles longer, the risk of component failure will increase the need for vehicle maintenance and replacement parts.
Which phrase describes your “words for living?” »
What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.
What’s your best icebreaker at a networking party?
How is everything going for you so far?
What is your dream car or your favorite vehicle?
I love my current vehicle…a 2014 Audi Q5.