Archive | Darren Moss’ Blog



Arleigh International Ltd, a Euro Car Parts company, announced today the acquisition of marine distribution specialist A.S.A.P. Supplies Ltd. Based in Suffolk, A.S.A.P. is one of the UK’s largest stockists of marine equipment and spare parts.

Established in 1989, A.S.A.P. provides a huge breadth of marine products for customers’ maintenance, repair and overhaul projects. A.S.A.P.’s offerings are supported by a highly-skilled customer service team that provide guidance across its vast product mix of more than 70 trusted brands.

Arleigh International was itself acquired by ECP in August last year along with the Nova Leisure and Midland Chandlers brands. The brands are among the largest in the touring and leisure boating sectors.

Martin Gray, CEO of Euro Car Parts, said: “A.S.A.P Supplies is a complementary fit with Arleigh and is a further enhancement of Euro Car Parts’ Specialist Products Division. This agreement further cements Arleigh as the market-leading distributor of products to the UK caravan, leisure and marine markets.

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The cost of motorsport in tyres, fuel and fluids

The cost of motorsport in tyres, fuel and fluids

Liqui Moly has sponsored Team Engstler for years

Liqui Moly has sponsored Team Engstler for years

As you’ll see in the latest issue of CAT Magazine I was recently a guest of Team Engstler sponsor Liqui Moly at the latest round of the World Touring Car Championship in Hungary.

Aside from the sheer spectacle of a WTCC event, I was surprised at just how geared up for the race the locals were. Every other radio or TV advert was devoted to the action and the Hungaroring itself was near overflowing with spectators.

It must be a humbling experience for the 25 men and women who make up the team. As a private enterprise, it’s difficult for Team Engstler to compete with the manufacturer works teams – but that doesn’t stop the team putting everything it has into each and every race.

A team of 15 mechanics services the team’s two cars at each race, spending weeks on end away from home. In fact, during a single season the cars will travel twice around the globe to get from race to race, mostly by plane.

Fuel? That’s particularly expensive. It was €5,80 per liter in Hungary, and the team will use 4000 litres of it during the season. Add in the 370 litres of lubricants used, the 400 tyres needed and the ten tones of equipment and materials carried to each race and you see the scale of the operation.

Add up the costs of all those materials and it’s easy to see why sponsorship is such an important factor in motorsport of any kind. Team Engstler has been partnered with Liqui Moly off and on since the late 1980’s – with the relationship growing each time the two come together for a new venture.

You can read more about my adventure in Hungary in the May issue of CAT Magazine.

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How do independents stack up online?

An article on dealer-focused website Motor Trader caught my eye this weekend.

The article laid out the results of an online investigation in which the Motor Trader team approached 40 dealers through social networking site, Twitter, looking to buy a car. Those dealers all had active Twitter accounts.

So how many of those 40 do  you think responded with offers of test drives and bookings? Just 12.

Of those, only half responded within an hour and just three engaged the pretend customer in conversation.

Now fair enough, this research is based around buying a car rather than running it, but the lesson learnt can be applied to almost any trade. If you take the trouble to get yourself online, then make use of it. We know there are thousands of members of the independent automotive aftermarket, from suppliers to factors and garages to retailers using the social networking platform to get their message across, and for some it works wonders.

Increasingly consumers are turning to the digital realm to find the right workshop to take their car, so being online and being active is more important than ever.

Do you regularly get customer referrals online? What’s your top tip for the aftermarket when it comes to social networking? Let us know in the comments below.

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What are your New Year business resolutions?

The winter could still bring you work

The winter could still bring you work

This winter hasn’t yet turned out to be the white blizzard some expected it to be. I say yet, because January and February are traditionally our coldest months, so the snow and ice could still cause serious problems.

However, the upside is that those problems could mean extra work for your business. Batteries, brakes and bodywork could all potentially bring in more profits for your workshop, if you know how to market your services to customers.

If you’ve been listening to what CAT’s knowhow contributors have been saying over the past few months you’ll know the value a little change can bring. Whether it’s brushing up on your employment law, taking on a new member of staff, offering an extra service to your customers or even just giving the exterior of your premises a new lease of life. It all helps to build your business.

2013 has the potential to be a big year for the aftermarket – technology will continue to evolve at a terrifying pace and at the highest levels of the industry mergers, buyouts, sales and consolidations will, I’m sure, give us plenty to talk about.

Rest assured that CAT will be there for every twist and turn.

Happy New Year from the CAT team – let’s make it a good one.

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Just 5 days left to vote for your aftermarket heroes

Voting for the CAT Awards 2013 closes this Friday, 21st December.

Make sure your votes are in before this date, as votes cast after this date will not count towards the final result.

If you need reminding of who is in the race for this year’s awards, here’s our nominations rundown.

Or, if you just need to cast your votes, click here.

This year has already attracted a record number of nominations and votes, with businesses from all areas of the aftermarket fighting it out to be crowned the top of their game.

The results of the CAT Awards 2013 will be announced in the Awards issue of CAT Magazine, out February 22nd.

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You have until 21st December to vote for your aftermarket heroes

The end is now in sight for the CAT Awards 2013. Voting for this year’s awards closes on the 21st December, so you have until then to vote for YOUR aftermarket heroes.

The winners will be announced at a glittering awards ceremony in February, and a full report will be in our special awards edition of the magazine soon after. Of course, you can follow CAT Magazine on Twitter and Facebook for live updates throughout the day, too.

Each year we see real business benefits coming to each of our award winners, as well as local and national media coverage. The full list of nominees has been up for a while now, and you can find it here. Time is running out to cast your important vote, though, so make sure you do it before it’s too late!

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Production seen first hand with Gates

Finished belts ready to be boxed

Finished belts ready to be boxed

Gates’ Balsareny production plant in Barcelona is one of three sites in Europe which make the company’s new Micro-V Horizon belt.

Marc Etaix is the man in charge of making sure production at the site runs smoothly, and CAT joined a tour around the plan to see production of the new belt in action.

It’s always fascinating to see real production taking place, and the ingenuity with which man and machine come together to produce the final product. Inside the Balsareny facility we learned how a secret mixture of rubbers is first formed into flat strips, how tightly woven cord is then place in between different layers and how the different layers of the belt are heated, cooled,  made into shape, and then cut.

A particularly interesting sight for me was seeing grooves being cut into the finished belts. Where different applications require a different number of grooves the belts have to be made to order – so row upon row of machines cut just the right number of grooves for any application. There are even ways of cutting grooves in both sides of the belt for use in some modern engines.

It was an enlightening visit, and my thanks to Gates for allowing CAT to take a tour of the site. You can read more about the visit in the December issue of CAT.

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Fast times at Brooklands

The banking is still a steep climb

The banking is still a steep climb

Motor racing circuits in the UK don’t come much more famous than Brooklands. Built in 1907 as the World’s first purpose built circuit the famous banked oval has seen plenty of action over the years. It still does, and the complex steeped in motoring history regularly finds itself hosting events for both the public and trade. The RMI held one of its many roadshows at Brooklands, for example.

The recent Autumn Motorsport Day gave the perfect opportunity to see the delights of Brooklands up close – whether it be taking a stroll along the famous banking or marveling at some of the gathered metal taking to the track at the adjacent Mercedes Benz World complex.

Lucas Oil's racing monster

Lucas Oil's racing monster

The track has a certain air of nostalgia rarely found at most modern racing circuits. Faded adverts cling grimly on to bare brickwork and olde-worlde signs still keep the spirit of Brooklands’ heydey alive. There was some modern aftermarket presence too, thanks to Lucas Oil showing off its drag racer at the show too.

It’s easy to see why the aftermarket and motorsport at places like Brooklands go so well together. Many companies in our industry have long and illustrious histories to rival Brooklands, and even today many businesses find motorsport an attractive sponsorship opportunity.

So, who fancies the CAT Awards 2014 at Brooklands, then?

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Nominations for the 2013 CAT Awards are now open


Nominations for the 2013 CAT Awards are open!

This year there are more ways to get involved in the nominations process. Do you know a factor that goes above and beyond your expectations every time? Is one of your customers a garage that’s beating the franchises at their own game? Perhaps you know an independent retailer that’s staying strong on the high street? The CAT Awards is your chance to get them recognised by the industry.

And don’t forget, it only takes ONE nomination.

Email your nominations to before the deadline of 19th October.

Here are this year’s categories in full

*Large factor of the yearopen to factors with a turnover of more than £1 million

“Does your factor always go the extra mile, night or day? Are their vans always on time and carrying the right parts? If so you should nominate them for this category.”

Last year’s winner: GMF Motor Factors

*Small factor of the yearopen to factors with a turnover of less than £1 million

“Small factors are the backbone of the aftermarket, and you might know one of the best. If you think you do nominate them for this award.”

*Large garage of the yearopen to garages with a turnover of more than £750k

“Large garages have the space, the kit and the training to take on a whole variety of work. If your local garage sounds this good point them towards this category.”

Last year’s winner: ABP Motorsport

*Small garage of the yearopen to garages with a turnover of less than £750k

“Small garages are the ones we love to hear about – size is no problem and the job is never too big. If this sounds like one of your customers nominate them for this award.”

*Retailer of the yearopen to all independent aftermarket retailers

“Does your business combine slick professionalism with friendly customer service? If you can answer yes to both those questions, you could be in with a shot at this award.”

Last year’s winner: A1 Motabitz

*Supplier of the yearopen to all aftermarket suppliers

“Do you have a supplier who delivers the right part on time first time every time? If so, this is the award for them.”

Last year’s winner: NGK

*Person of the year

“Which one person in the aftermarket deserves to be held above all others in 2013? Perhaps for a special contribution to their business or for overcoming personal troubles? If you have someone in mind, let us know.”

Last year’s winner: Brian Childs, NGK

*Lifetime Achievement Award

“Our most prestigious award, the Lifetime Achievement is decided by a CAT panel of experts.”

Last year’s winner: Joe Elliott

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Automechanika – Showing off the best of the aftermarket

The show attracted thousands of visitors

The show attracted thousands of visitors

So that was our first Automechanika.

Apart from our Publisher David Harris the CAT team had never visited the aftermarket show before, and truth be told we didn’t know what to expect.

Now we’re back and, blisters aside, we’ve had a great time. Walking through hall after hall we talked to aftermarket representatives from all over Europe, and while there were a few murmurs of discontent from some stands the overall mood was very positive.

We heard about plenty of major deals being done at the show. One national UK distributor, for example, signed a new distribution agreement with an Italian firm on the third day of the show. If you needed proof that events like Automechanika are worth attending, there it is.

The next issue of CAT will be packed full of information and news from the show, so look out for it landing on your doorsteps soon.

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