Archive | August, 2016



Brake_productsBrake Engineering has added six new brake calipers, as well as one pair of brake discs and one brake pad set to its extensive product range, reflecting its commitment to constantly develop its offering to meet customer requirements.

The new brake calipers cover popular models for both left- and right-hand applications including: Mercedes Benz C250, C320, C35, E200, E250, E300, E350, SLK200, SLK250 and SLK300 (2007); Fiat 500L, 500L MPW and 500L Trekking (2013); and also Fiat 500X and Alfa Romeo Giulietta (2010).

Meanwhile, the additional pair of discs cover the Mazda CX7 (2007) and the brake pad set covers Audi A4, A5, Q5, S4, S5 and SQ5 (2007). The new-to-range parts join Brake Engineering’s already comprehensive range.

Brake Engineering is well-known and highly regarded for its expertise in the production of calipers, and with this wealth of experience, intricate attention to detail and efficient remanufacturing process, it is able to meet the consistent high demand for first-class, premium products.

Working alongside its customers, Brake Engineering offers technical support and training where necessary. This ensures full optimisation of the product range and that motor factors and technicians have access to key information on how to fit parts correctly.

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Santokh Bhogal founded Autoelectro after quitting his job because of industrial unrest. Three decades on, the firm is still very much in the hands of the family that started it

Facility is ISO 14001 certified

Facility is ISO 14001 certified

Bradford-based remanufacturer Autoelectro is marking thirty years in business at the moment. Like so many companies that have reached a significant number, it has engaged the services of a PR agent to make sure the world knows about it and has bought in a stack of natty red DAB radios with company branding to dish out to selected customers and suppliers.

However, we were keen to find out a bit more about the company behind the logo, so we caught up with Tony Bhogal. “The business was started by my father, Santokh who had been working for Marston Radiators when it was owned by Denso. He moved into the side for light vehicles and he said there was a good atmosphere.”

Nicky, Tony and Paul Bhogal

Nicky, Tony and Paul Bhogal

The company ran into an issue between management and the unions, which gave Santokh Bhogal a predicament. “In 1986 there had been strikes and he felt unhappy about it” said Tony. “The company had a good atmosphere, but after the industrial problems he didn’t feel the same, so he felt it was the right time to run the family business”.

Autoelectro was started from Santokh dismantling some old ACR alternators on the kitchen table, before constructing a slightly more formal workshop in the garage and the business grew from there. “Quite a few of the local garages would bring in starters and alternators just to have them repaired” explained Tony. It was quite a simple product and if you looked under he arches you’d find people doing starters, alternators, radiators, gearboxes and anything else you could think of. We were the new boys there!”

As you’ll read elsewhere in the issue, there was no security in just being a me-too repairer, and by the early 1990s the firm had outgrown it’s origins in a lock-up and was offering a full remanufacturing service based from an industrial unit in Bradford. Mr Bhogal Snr was joined by his sons, Tony, Paul and Nicky who all had different skill sets that complemented the business well. Tony had done a degree in mine engineering, but the mid-1980s were not a great time to enter that industry. Paul studied Business Management, so he was well suited to joining the firm at a time of expansion, while Nicky qualified as an auto electrician, which had obvious benefits at a firm named Autoelectro. However, getting the product on the shelves proved to be a complex exercise.

Founder Santokh Bhogal

Founder Santokh Bhogal

“The motor industry was generally difficult and it was built on relationships. Rather than just saying that we had a fantastic product, well it might be a fantastic product, but it wasn’t easy getting it to the buying groups” Tony recalled. “The big break we got was in 1991 when we got approved to supply (factor and accessory shop chain) Charlie Brown. A chap called Trevor Watson was the senior buyer and I remember they had been dealing with a company who had gone bust and they were having problems dealing with warranty and stock. So I did the presentation and they were a local company so I think it went down well”.

The call came from the chain, but the senior buyer explained that the pressure on him was to go with a large and well-known brand. “So I said to him that he is welcome to come here with a big stick and watch over us every day if he liked” said Tony with a smile. While this didn’t quite happen, a quality control auditor named Derek Lockwood was sent to spend time at the firm. He must have been impressed with what he saw, because soon after his visits the newly-bought fax machine started spewing orders. “There was page after page” recalls Tony. “They had placed an order worth £50,000. The next step for us was to find the core…”. Somehow they did, and the order was completed, thus cementing the relationship.

“On the back of Charlie Brown’s we started dealing with Motorworld so we had two of the biggest retailers throughout the UK, but these were mostly the public buying parts, rather than the trade” said Tony. “The retailers wanted to just keep a few popular part numbers rather than stock the whole range – which suited, as there wasn’t nearly as many part numbers then anyway. Then Mr. (Chris) Swan started to shake up the industry. He bought both Charlie Brown and Motorworld and although he gave us the opportunity to supply Finelist, we decided against it at the time because we weren’t happy with the terms. That caused us a few problems”.

While local trade and supply to smaller customers was brisk, the pressure was on to find new bulk supply customers. “We re-trenched and started developing our own identity and brand and developing the market further” said Tony. “At that time we started working with Delco- Remy in the USA to develop a presence in the UK. I actually met one of the senior chaps at the APRA conference in London and we started handling all of the European warranty for Delco-Remy. We’d be taking heavy non-road units such as the alternator for a Terex truck or a Caterpillar excavator that had a problem with the starter. We’d fill out a warranty report here and detail whether it was a manufacturing fault or due to abuse on the vehicle, so we were lucky at that time as Delco-Remy were expanding in the UK”.

Busy sales office keeps orders coming in

Busy sales office keeps orders coming in

It helped that the firm were early adopters of industrial standards. The firm was one of the first to achieve BS750 and has since gone on to earn certificates for various ISO standards as well as the ‘Green Apple’ award for sustainable manufacturing.

Not every contract was won though. Tony recalls losing out to a larger rival to become GMs official reman supplier. Nonetheless, the firm continued to expand, although it remains on the same site in Bradford where it has been since the early 1990s, which has been achieved by acquiring various adjoining buildings and connecting them together in various cunning ways. This has resulted in long walkways with doors that could lead out on to any one of a number of levels, not unlike the opening chapters of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

What is interesting to see is that despite the number of nooks, corridors and corners, all of the areas are very clean and well organised. Each location has computer-based identification so that nothing gets lost. Despite running near capacity, it is clear that lean management principles are obeyed: For example, fastest moving items are nearest the door and process efficiency is constantly monitored.

On our visit Nicky Bhogal was busy adjusting some of the computerised test rigs, on which all of the firm’s output is checked. The rigs, custom made by D&V Electronics in Canada, are key to making sure even the newest start-stop rotating parts with built-in computing power and sensitive regulator packs are properly calibrated before leaving the plant.

Speaking of leaving the plant, it is the end of our tour and we navigate our way back through the labyrinthine maze of passages. The motor industry has changed a lot since the days of Charlie Brown’s and Finelist, but you can be sure with the right level of investment in processes and facilities, remanufacturing will remain with us for a long time yet.

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Working out how much you should charge should involve more than simply plucking a figure out of the air, says Andy Savva

Andy Savva

Savva has run various large independent garages and has been a troubleshooter for underperforming franchise workshops.

One of the most and frequent responses I hear from independent garage owners when asked: ‘What’s the basis of your labour rate?’ Answer: ‘it’s the going rate in the area’.

There is a law in this repeated answer. How can you set your labour rates within the same bracket as your competitors? If you do that tells me that you have the same fixed costs, rent, rates, insurance, electricity, gas, salaries etc. as everyone else, surely this cannot be possible?

Of course it isn’t the case. While independent garage owners will have similar running costs they won’t be exactly the same, yet labour rates are set on the basis that it’s the going rate within a given postcode. Let me tell you here and now this is certainly not the way to set your labour rates.

Your first challenge is to calculate your complete running costs for your business as mentioned earlier, this should be straight from your annual accounts. Let’s assume this figure is £395,000 this includes staff salaries for five techs and three non-productives, all your rent rates, insurance and general running costs etc.

So before anything happens you need to generate £8230 per week. Now on average the labour/parts split for an invoice is around 50/50, so an invoice of £200 will have £40 vat £80 labour & £80 retail parts sold. So the figure of £8230 now becomes £4115 for labour hours sold (income) just to cover the complete running costs of the business.

At this point I would not consider the mark-up of parts (usually around 30 to 40 percent) as I considered this income as a bonus.

I always based my business objectives of making my garages sustainable & profitable on labour hours sold. You then calculate the potential labour hours you have available to you to sell, think of the number of ramps and working bays times the number of productives (five ramps/ technicians x seven hours per day) x five days per week for 46 weeks in the year which takes into account holidays, training and sick days etc… Stay with me!

So if we use the calculation above the potential labour that can be generated will be 175 per week and if we multiply that by 46 weeks, we potentially can achieve 8050 labour hours (income) per year. Now we already know that we need to generate £395,000 per year to meet our fixed cost expenditure without making a profit, if we then divide the potential labour hours available (8050) by running costs £395,000 we get a labour rate of £49 per hour.

Now an important point, whatever labour rate you set will not necessarily mean that is what you recover or receive in real terms. In my travels up and down the country reviewing many different independent garages I how found that most do not sell more than four hours of labour per technician per day. A low figure which has a dramatic impact on the overall labour rate originally charged.

If your labour rate is say £50 and you are paying a tech to be there for eight hours, the labour rate is actually approx. £25 per hour. That’s called a recovery rate. Now this figure will fluctuate due to many factors like, productivity, utilisation, efficiency of the workshop, types of jobs you undertake, skill level, tooling and equipment that you have and any discounts as well as small repairs (bulb changes, lubricant top-ups) that are not charged for.

There are many consumers willing and able to pay more for a service or product as long as they feel they have received value for money. I did not want to be in the same bracket as every other independent garage business offering the same services as everyone else not really offering anything different. This is much harder as we are all then trying to attract the same customer and it only pushes labour rates down or they never seem to go up for the right reasons.

The other concern I have with our sector both franchises and independents that advertise lower labour rates advertised for older vehicles. This drives me mad, why should we charge less? Is it because some other technician is going to come out of the tool cupboard who has less skill, paid less, who only works on older vehicles, so we can charge less? Of course this is nonsense, it’s the same techs, their skill level is no different when applied to older or newer vehicles.

I am happy to report that when I sold Brunswick Garage in December 2015 our labour rate was £90 per hour. However our actual recovery rate was £82 per hour, extremely healthy and unmatched as far as I am aware.

My final comment is, whatever your labour rate is, always remember that even if its higher than most, you must be able to justify it if and when questioned by your customers. You must ensure you continually explain the services and products you offer, and communicate the benefits why people should use your garage rather than competitors.

When I began Brunswick Garage I knew my labour rate (£82) would be way above what other local independent garages charged. The average was around £50 in my part of North London. This did not bother me at all because I knew what I was offering potential customers, no one else could or would match us in terms of facilities, skilled staff, OE equipment and tooling, etc. So my labour rate was set to cover these costs and leave me a reasonable profit to keep investing in my business and people.

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Business award for Russell team

Brent-based Russell Automotive Centre is celebrating following picking up the title of ‘Brent Business of the Year 2016’. The FSB London Business Awards celebrated an evening of success for London-based businesses in fourteen different categories, held at the Pullman Hotel in Kings Cross in July.

The category winner was expected to demonstrate ‘outstanding initiative, imagination in enterprise as well as sound management practices’. Entrants also had to show sustainable growth, combined with commercial success ‘exceptional to the size of the business’.

Jane and Steve Russell, Directors of the local garage, were delighted with the results as they collected the award on behalf of the team from Cllr Mohammed Butt of Brent Council. “It was such an honour to have heard our name called out as the winners” said Jane Russell, “We were absolutely delighted that our business has been recognised in this way and that the contribution we have made to the community of Brent has been highlighted. We are thrilled.” This was one of two awards secured by the garage, after attaining the ‘Highly Commended for Independent Garage of the Year’ at the Motor Trade Awards, a few weeks prior to its latest appointment.

In other awards news, Swindon-based Yuasa Batteries (UK) were handed the Halfords Supplier of the Year 2016 Award during the last month. at the retailer’s conference in Birmingham. Picking up the award, Andrew Taylor, MD of Yuasa said: “We are very proud of this achievement. The award is a great acknowledgement of the hard work and dedication everyone at Yuasa has put in to improving and developing our services. This is truly a team effort”.

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Divyesh Kamdar invites CAT to tour Comline Auto Parts’ HQ in Luton

Queen's Award

Comline receives the Rose Bowl and Plaque signed by Her Majesty the Queen

Today marked a red- letter day on the Comline calendar as the firm prepared to receive the prestigious Queen’s Award For Enterprise: International Trade 2016.

It is undeniable that the past four years have notably been the firm’s strongest yet in terms of export and trade opportunities with sales now reaching over 20 countries in Europe and 40 countries worldwide. Since 2012 the company has trebled its oversees earnings and ranked in The Sunday Times HSBC International Track 200 league table as one of the private companies with the fastest- growing international sales over a two year period. The acquisition of Motaquip from PSA in 2014 also helped contribute to the company’s expansion plans and recent appointment. Managing Director, Divyesh Kamdar explained: “Comline continues to enjoy considerable success here in the UK, but our export growth over the past four years has been nothing short of staggering”.

Like the other companies in the issue that have received the Award, the ceremony follows a similar pattern: The firm receiving the Award, plus guests are assembled in the largest space available, the Lord Lieutenant turns up, often accompanied by the local mayor and other council dignitaries and after making a speech and reading a proclamation, a rose bowl is handed to the head of the company along with the right to use the Queen’s mark for the following five years.

This was the case on our visit, with Her Majesty’s Lord Left Lieutenant of Bedfordshire Helen Nellis handing the bowl to Divyesh Kamdar. “What a moment this is for everyone associated with Comline” said Kamdar. “We are incredibly proud to be a British company, and I can think of no greater honour than receiving such an important accolade directly from HM The Queen”.

We were interested to have a look around and see what the company had been doing to earn the gong for export. We met Dr Keith Ellis, Director of Braking Product Development,who provided an overview of the in-house technical centre: “This is a facility we put together in the last 18 months because we needed some technical capability actually on site” he told us, while showing some of the equipment. Ellis also mentioned that the team perform rigorous testing on their manufactured products making sure they are of high quality before being boxed up and distributed to workshops.

After exiting the test centre, we took a tour of the 175,000 sq ft. facility containing long aisles of Comline’s wares. Divyesh elaborated: “Our biggest and fastest selling line is filtration which represents 40 per cent of the business, braking 40 per cent and all of our other products represent 20 per cent” Divyesh elaborated: “Filtration is our strongest product group because in that mid-market segment we have 2,500 part numbers. We rank high because there aren’t many other players in this segment”.

Ishan Kamdar, Comline’s Business Development Director, explained that the acquisition of Motaquip proved to be a logistical challenge following the acquisition of that company from Peugeot in December 2014, with the stock
having to be transferred from the French firm over to Luton during the Christmas break, something that turned out to be ‘fun and games’ for the first months of 2015.

Comline HQ in Luton

Comline HQ in Luton

Acquiring the Queen’s Award for Enterprise is only the beginning as the firm has many business ventures ahead to continue as one of the larger aftermarket distributors of European, Korean and Japanese parts. “We will be re-launching a couple of product groups, clutch kits as well as a range of new wheel bearing kits at the Automechanika Frankfurt show” said Divyesh, “We will continue our European expansion with France and Germany being our key target areas and increasing the importance of the eastern European countries that we still don’t serve”.

For those of you attending the Frankfurt show can visit the Comline stand in Hall Five to find out about its newest product lines or discuss any business opportunities with its team of professionals. Divyesh concluded: “We’re also planning to go to the Automechanika Moscow show to have a look and see if we can start up any trade opportunities there. As far as the UK’s concerned about Comline, with our raised profile and the fact we provide value, we hope the buying groups will take us more seriously as we go forward”.

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Mike Owen Is a consultant with many years industry experience in the independent and franchised motor trade

Mike Owen Is a consultant with many years industry experience in the independent and franchised motor trade

Mike Owen: Introducing a Service Level Agreement between factors and garages could stop the current race to the bottom

As you would expect, generally I’m quite well organised, have to be, but sometimes we all get caught out – to quote Robert Burns, ‘The best laid plans of mice and men….’ your intentions go wrong or an emergency happens that, by its nature, causes a meltdown in the vision that you held for your project. This is the stuff of the Independent Repair Industry – we manage crisis; in fact we are so adept at that most don’t bother with the plan in the first place favouring ‘it’ll be alright on the night’ modus operandi that sees the garages working late in the evening and
most weekends.

The motor factors find themselves in an even worse situation; once removed from the scene of the disaster you pick up the shock waves that are, of course, no fault of the repairer – in their opinion. Of course you then still have the exertion of pressure in that you are expected to have the stock on the shelf and to have a van and driver to deliver the requisite parts at ‘warp-speed’. Once that van has left, have another on standby to deliver the parts they forgot in their haste in ordering the first parts and you have to be prepared to do all of the above without the need to turn a profit!

I was working with a parts wholesaler recently and was truly amazed at their costs of distribution, staff, vans, fuel and stock required to run a ‘phone and go’ service.

CHOOSE TWO High Quality
This puts me in mind of the Chicago printer, who after a lifetime of working hard and earning little put a notice up in his shop window. It read: “We have three basic elements that we can offer you, there are ‘Good’, ‘Cheap’ and ‘Quick’ – you can choose any two but never all three; you can have a Good job Quick, but it won’t be Cheap. You can choose a Cheap job Quick but it won’t be Good or lastly, you can have a Good job Cheap but it won’t be Quick”. Perhaps we as an industry are guilty of loosing this perspective?

If you were to visit your doctor and have been referred to someone who knows what they are doing and been told that your life threatening condition needs urgent surgery, do you say ‘hold on, I’ll look it up on the ‘net and see where I can get it done cheaper?’ I suspect the answer is no, more likely your next question will be, ‘Today, tomorrow or when?’ and the answer will be at some future date not ‘…sew up Mrs Jones and get her off the table, this guy needs help’; now turn this scenario into a situation in our industry?

I hear the term ‘exceeding expectations’ coined regularly, especially by VMs, but there is another level that surpasses this which is ‘exceeding common sense’. We must remember that the vehicle owner/user will take all we can offer but will expect that as a minimum next time; do they offer this to their clients in their walk of life – in that case you are the customer, do they? The motor industry in not being more professional does little for our perception in the eyes of the customers who, because of the way we conduct ourselves think that we are all desperate for their business and that we will jump through burning rings naked and work for free.

Despite the sheer volume of vehicles on the roads lead times at most garages varies and this over availability leaves the vehicle owner spoilt for choice. A direct comparison can be levied at the feet of the parts wholesalers who, in order to court business have moved away from the old business maxim of ‘Sales for vanity, profit for sanity’ in favour of business at any cost.

I run business ‘Profit Clinics’ on behalf of parts distributors for their garage customers and one of the first exercises explore how they are performing currently against their potential. Invariably there is room for improvement, the clinic goes on to explore where their best profit lies – their best profit is within labour, but only if they manage it properly, up to 70 percent gross profit or more. In truth a garage requires parts to make their product, labour, saleable and to this end they need the right parts on time – price is almost (but not quite) immaterial.

As stated in previous articles, I work for both dealers and independents alike and I yearn for the day when the relationship between independents and parts sales becomes formalised as it is with the franchised dealers and VMs. Yes, I would like to see Service Level Agreements (SLA) – not as draconian as the VM’s impose but some form of terms and conditions, not every nut bolt and split-pin being haggled over on an individual basis but perhaps with rebates based on turnover thresholds –
Why? Because it would help take the ‘amateur repairer’ out of the equation but also call for the garages to negotiate with customers rather than their suppliers as their ultimate cost price would be volume driven.

There is a lot of spin-off from SLA’s not least of which are relationships, loyalty and parts planning rather than the ‘jump- and-dart’ that we see currently, it would also allow for the parts suppliers to go the extra mile on the occasion that it is needed – but don’t worry it will never happen because we still worship the one great God, which
is turnover.

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THE FORD MUSTANG (2005-2014) S197

Ford MustangThere was a fashion for retro-styled cars at the turn of the century. For example, you’ll remember cars such as the Mini, Rover 75, Jaguar S-Type and the PT Cruiser. Perhaps the coolest looking of the lot was the 2005 model year Mustang. It was the much-needed replacement for the SN95, which was itself a re-skin of the third generation built on the ‘Fox’ platform that spanned back to 1978.

Apart from the styling, buyers loved the traditional front-engine rear-drive layout, although reviewers noted that the live axle coupled with thin interior plastics made the car feel unrefined and tiring to drive. The normally aspirated V6 or V8 engine line up felt pretty old fashioned by modern standards too.

The car wasn’t officially sold in the UK, so the majority on the roads have been imported used from the USA and other countries. Ford never made a RHD S197, although there are a few out there that have been converted, notably for the Australian market.

Strangely, it seems that the spark plugs fitted at the factory on early cars were prone to breaking on removal. The plugs in question are Motorcraft PZT 2FE featuring an unusual two- piece design. Website aa1car. com explains that the crimped lower electrode shell that becomes coated with carbon, causing it to stick in the cylinder head. Rust and corrosion on the lower plug shell can also cause it to stick. When you attempt to unscrew the plug, the lower shell can twist off and get stuck in the head. If you are going to be looking after a number of these vehicles it might be worthwhile investing in a small tool that has been developed to extract it. Snap-On produce one in the US, if you ask your local rep, they should be able to order it for you. Once you’ve got the Motorcraft plugs out, don’t refit like-for-like. Use one piece items (NGK, Denso, Bosch and Champion all produce good quality plugs that won’t break).

If you have a customer who brings you a newly- acquired V6 and complains that it is sluggish, then he is probably right, but that’s how these cars are designed. In standard form the 4.0 V6 (which is not dissimilar to the Cologne unit you might remember in the Capri) is not as sprightly as the on-paper figures suggest. Unlike earlier versions of this engine, the 4.0 is of SOHC design with a jackshaft in place of a camshaft to drive a timing chain to each cylinder head. 2011-on V6 models used the far more modern Duratec V6 engine. It is more likely that cars you encounter have a version of the venerable Ford V8. These mills are tough and straightforward to service (other than the aforementioned issue with two-piece spark plugs). However, access is a little tight.


FM part missing on stereo

FM part missing on stereo

Unusually for an American car, the sporty Mustang is often specified with five on the floor.

The gearbox is not a problem in itself, but many used examples feel loose and notchy. This is easily sorted as it is usually down to worn bushes, bent linkage etc. However, the problem is symptomatic of an example that has been thrashed: bear this in mind if you are preparing it for resale.

Cart springs and a live axle were old hat when the marquee was first introduced in 1964, so it is perhaps not surprising that 40 years later Ford scored a fair amount of flak from the motoring press for continuing to use them instead of indepen


Lights need to be modified

Lights need to be modified

As with all imported LHD cars, the lights need to be converted before the car can be registered in the UK. As with most cars imported from outside of the EU, the vehicle will have needed to go through an SVA test before it can be registered. There’s a number of specialists that can help with this, but as it is always a DIY job, the results can be patchy.

Like most American cars, the S197 benefitted from various year-on- year changes, and as you might expect from Ford, the options list was as long as your arm.

Suffice it to say that 2005-2008 cars had fairly rattly interiors, where later models enjoyed a notable improvement in fit and finish. Standard stereo systems were pretty good, though most customers ticked the option of a ‘shaker’ sound system. If your customer’s goal is just to listen to the Archers, they might be disappointed as US radios only tune on ‘odd’ FM frequencies (94.3, 94.5, 94.7 etc). There’s also no RDS/TP or TA etc. As the dash supports a standard double DIN, your customer might prefer to update the head unit to a modern touchscreen model.

US-market cars are designed to be serviced every few months and don’t demand the high- performance oils that we are used to writing about. That said, the V6 and V8 in the 2005 cars are designed for a thin 5w-20 oil which can be hard to come by in the UK. Several of the Mustang owner’s forums show that many owners use a cheaper and more commonly available 5w-30.

Diode pack failure in the alternator is relatively common, and as it is not an off-the-shelf part you would be best advised to have the customer’s existing unit rebuilt. Fortunately there are a number of specialists such as Autoelectro that will be prepared to undertake this
for you.

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A serious fire doesn't mean meltdown for LMA

A serious fire doesn’t mean meltdown for LMA

UK aerosol Manufacturer LMA made headline news earlier this summer after a fire broke out at the factory’s site in Pocklington Industrial Estate, causing damage to its buildings and wares while leaving the firm with a hefty insurance claim.

Two months on and the company, which cans many well-known aftermarket brands, reports that it is on the mend with staff and suppliers ‘pulling together’ to get the warehouse back up and running, according to Fraser Todd, Owner of LMA Services: “Everybody has been very flexible and positive about the situation. There’s things that are obviously inconvenient without some of the warehouse and storage, but everybody has pulled together and made an extra effort to keep customers supplied”.

Todd told CAT that although the accident caused some ‘inconvenience’ to customers, they have been ‘very understanding’ with most of its aerosol and chemical products now back on the shelves. “We had a very grateful understanding of customers, some of whom suffered and continued to suffer an element of inconvenience”. Todd continued: “Most materials are back in stock and production is more or less at the level it was before the fire even without the warehousing. Some elements of lead times and suppliers, raw material and delivery have compromised our ability to meet previous obligations that we made to customers”.

The firm looks to a brighter future and is exploring some redesign options to make the factory bigger and better than before. “We have plans to grow and clearly this has been inconvenient on a number of levels, but we view it as an opportunity to learn. We’re working to rebuild to be better and learn from some of the mistakes that our competitors and we have made in this area. We are still very optimistic about the future”, Todd concluded.

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Garage Management Software CarVue will now incorporate technical data.

The capability is from a deal with data provider, TecAlliance. Besides being the originators of the aftermarket TecDoc catalogue, the German business provides diagnostic fault-finding info, as well as service and repair schedules through its TecRMI system.

“Technicians can now access valuable data like labour times, service schedules and parts RRP pricing,” said Rob Skidmore, CarVue’s Product Director.

The function is live now on all paid plans.

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Following the launch of its latest ‘True Originals’ product campaign, which this time is focused on brake discs, TRW Aftermarket’s UK Marketing Manager, Kevin Price explains to CAT online how through innovation and R&D, a first to market approach and an unrivalled understanding of the market, the business retains its position at the top of the table for painted brake discs.

Almost a decade ago, TRW led the market by introducing a small, niche range of black painted discs. The special paint used was developed in-house, in conjunction with a major VM to reduce corrosion.

Fast forward to today, and as a direct result of customer demand, every one of the 12 million brake discs supplied each year by TRW is black painted, as standard.

The idea for painted discs for the aftermarket was born after research showed that IAM customers wanted an offer which mirrored that of the Original Equipment Supplier (OES) channel. TRW already manufactured painted discs at OES level – grey discs for Volvo and black for Ford.

By reflecting this in the aftermarket, we raised our credibility and forged a closer link to OE.

The niche programme was launched in 2007, but it became quickly apparent that there was a gap in the market – motorists and garages alike wanted this product. Only a year later and we had converted 60 percent of our range, and at Automechanika, Frankfurt in 2008, we not only announced our intention to offer a bigger range, but in effect, in due course to offer ONLY painted discs.

Making the decision to be the first aftermarket supplier to offer a painted-only range not only strengthened our braking portfolio, it reinforced our position as an innovator across Europe.

The brake discs are coated in a special black paint. This was specifically developed by TRW to create a unique surface that adds a protective barrier against rust. Aesthetically, the paint has a special finish, which was pitched at the more ‘discerning motorist’. This was important in 2007 and is a vital differentiator nearly 10 years down the line as drivers are more and more aware of the ‘look’ of automotive parts.

As a leading automotive safety expert, it’s important to TRW to retain as much control over the manufacturing and testing processes as possible. In line with this, the business manufactures more than 70 percent of TRW branded discs in-house at TRW’s global manufacturing plants, including its leading European facility in Frydlant, Czech Republic. Every disc is rigorously tested to the highest standard. Tests include: Dyno tests, salt spray tests and car tests.

The discs are packaged in a special VCI (Volatile Corrosion Inhibitor) paper which takes the place of an oil film coating. This eliminates the need to laboriously degrease them prior to fitting, saving time in the workshop.

As a pioneer in the design, development and manufacture of complete braking systems for vehicle manufacturers (VMs), the TRW brand has more than 100 years’ experience; and for the past 20 years, we have directly transferred this knowledge and experience into our aftermarket offer.

Our OE experience affords us innate knowledge of how each part operates within a system and how systems interact with each other. By manufacturing parts that work in harmony with each other, and within that particular system, we are able to provide the perfect braking solution every time, for every class and weight of vehicle.

All of this has made us the aftermarket partner of choice for the past 20 years. With a philosophy to forever push the boundaries of innovation, in order to best serve the customer, TRW is always one step ahead. Always the one true original.

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