SEM Products recently announced that it formed a new partnership with Mothers to distribute their professional products across the U.S. and Canada. In an exclusive interview with Andy Lewis, director of marketing for SEM, and Dennis Holloway, president of Mothers, BodyShop Business discusses the synergies that will result from this partnership and how the collision repair industry will benefit from this alliance.
BSB: First of all, congratulations on your partnership. But let’s set the record straight and squash the rumors: SEM Products did not buy Mothers but only secured the distribution rights across the United States and Canada for Mothers Professional products in the automotive paint and body market, correct?
Andy Lewis: Correct. Both companies remain wholly independent of one another. This distribution partnership simply allows us to combine our resources to better deliver solutions for our collision center customers.
BSB: In general, what synergies might be realized from SEM joining forces with Mothers?
Dennis Holloway: We are able to give the PBE industry best-in-class products with better efficiencies than what they have now. Pooling together the best brands should help everybody out. We have some plans and programs that should be able to lower cost and increase the speed PBE professionals [body shops] can get their vehicles through the system.
Andy Lewis: When it comes to quality, SEM Products and Mothers go hand-in-hand. Both companies share a unique corporate culture and forward-thinking vision that always puts the customer first.
We believe one of our greatest synergies will be SEM’s robust network of field representation. With the rapidly-changing environment of consolidation, OE recommendations, regulatory adjustments and payor policy changes, combining our sales resources allows us to leverage the same infrastructure for a fraction of the price of maintaining separate groups.
Dennis Holloway: It’s limitless on what our companies can do if we stick our heads together. What Mothers and SEM specialize in are vastly different. Coming up with new ideas or assessing issues and finding solutions should be much easier and faster.
We are constantly fine-tuning our product. It never stops. That’s because automotive paints are always evolving and improving. To build something that works on all of them is time intensive.
BSB: What does SEM bring to the table for Mothers distribution-wise?
Dennis Holloway: SEM is everywhere in the collision repair and PBE business. By joining forces, we gain an immense amount of exposure from their amazing sales team, rep network and the powerhouse firms they work with throughout the industry.
Andy Lewis: SEM is a popular product line. We have a robust distribution network and typically retain a top position with warehouse distributors, a key part of this industry. You would be hard-pressed to find a jobber or collision center without some level of SEM Products inventory.
BSB: Will SEM be supporting retail sales to companies such as NAPA, Advanced Auto and others?
Andy Lewis: No. Retail sales of Mothers consumer products will still be supported via Mothers’ corporate team; however, SEM Products will be distributing the Mothers Professional line through PBE channels. SEM Products will also have access to Mothers consumer products if an automotive refinish distributor would like to offer these materials to their walk-in customer base.
BSB: You state that SEM will be working hand-in-hand with Mothers to drive “productivity-enhancing solutions” to your collision center customers. Can you give examples of these solutions?
Andy Lewis: What truly matters in today’s collision space is this: Can you help me get this job done quicker, in fewer steps and help me generate less waste? Can you help me save money and still build a reliable and safe repair?
Both companies ask the same question when tackling challenges faced by technicians. “How can we enhance productivity in your shop, without sacrificing quality?” It’s this approach to customer profitability that made our partnership an obvious choice. What matters to both companies is improving the profitability and productivity of our customers. If we can do that, everybody wins.
BSB: Are there any other product lines SEM and Mothers would like to add in the future to further broaden their offerings?
Dennis Holloway: Absolutely. As we move forward, I’m sure we will find areas of growth. The beauty of this relationship is both partners are nimble and fast – able to adapt to changing customer demands as needed.
Andy Lewis: I agree with Dennis. This desire to innovate will likely force us out of our comfort zones and into new chemistries and categories to enhance the lives of our collision center partners.