Let me just say that the title of this column is not a mistake. Yes, it’s a repeat from last year, but it’s intentional.
Each year, I continue to watch our industry in awe. We continue to grow and have successful years as an industry, and it’s never more apparent as when we all head to Las Vegas for AAPEX and SEMA.
Earlier this year at NACE, the show floor grew significantly and is up already for the 2016 show in Anaheim. AAPEX exhibitors were up this year, and somehow they managed to fit them all in. SEMA has grown to the point where they’re putting companies in the lobbies of the hotels that are adjacent to the show. Frankly, it’s just incredible how our industry continues to grow.
The old adage used to be that when new car sales are up, it’s a threat to the aftermarket. Well not this time – record new car sales has not slowed the aftermarket one bit. Wall Street retailers continue to report growth, and the traditional distributors indicate excellent years as well.
This is, of course, driven by age of vehicles and miles driven. The more we drive the older cars, the more they break. Without sounding negative, that’s a good thing. Broken and crashed cars need to be fixed, and they’re fixed with parts and labor.
I do want to also bring up a looming battle that we’re going to face. Right to Repair was a huge win for all of us in the aftermarket, but storm clouds are on the horizon. The fight over data in our vehicles is about to heat up, and the OEs are not going to back down on this one. I recently heard talk of the OBD II port being removed. The thought is that the data somehow belongs to the OEs and access should be cut off. This will really hurt us in the collision space since so many of our repairs require access to the data.
Of course, this is hearsay, but the OEs have deep pockets and are able to mount a formidable battle. We really need to circle the wagons on this one and get involved. Use your associations as a conduit for your assistance. They’re already on it and are starting to mount an offensive. We’ll need everyone involved on this one.