Archive | Karen Reilly’s Blog


These are challenging times for our industry, with consolidation showing no signs of slowing down, along with concerns about the ‘B-word’ and the economy in general, business captains have their hands tightly on the rudder trying to navigate these choppy waters. Unfortunately, uncertain times usually result to price wars which can lead to ‘buy cheap’ sell for ‘as much as possible’.


This has led to a massive growth in ‘white box’ and ‘plain label’ products to the detriment of established, and, often, British brands, with the cheapest option being Far-Eastern copies. This trend is decimating the remanufacturing industry, since being so labour-intensive, it cannot compete on price, and distributors do not have to worry about surcharges and control of old-core.


The result has been the loss of a complete industry in the UK, along with jobs and the support industry behind.


Remanufacturing is no longer an ‘under the arches’ operation; it is a highly-technological and professional industry requiring skill, knowledge and investment. In addition to producing equivalent to or better than original equipment (OE) specification products, it has significant environmental credentials, which should be a major concern to all, so that we can protect the earth and its resources for future generations.


The basic raw material is the old part which would normally be scrapped. However, in the remanufacturing process this is fully stripped and re-worked with all wearing, faulty and parts prone to failure being replaced. The finished product is then tested to at least OE specifications using the latest computerised test equipment to ensure that it meets the strict performance levels, before being packed and ready for sale. Each remanufactured part usually has at least a one-year warranty with many companies, such as Autoelectro, offering an extended warranty.


Generally, the total remanufacturing industry in the UK employs over 50,000 people, contributes around £2.4 billion to GDP with the potential to increase to £5.6 billion, recovering around 270,000 tonnes of materials, saving an equivalent 0.5% of total UK carbon emissions compared to new equivalents.


This includes products as diverse as washing machines, ink cartridges, computers and boilers: the environmental impact can clearly be seen. The automotive industry is considered to be one of the most environmentally-aware manufacturing sectors.


A number of EU directives, driving a shift in business practice, can be seen to have contributed to this awareness. In 2002, the EU introduced the End of Life Vehicle Directive, which requires vehicle manufacturers (VMs) to reach the new vehicle goal of reusability and/or recyclability of at least 85%, and reusability and/or recoverability of at least 95% by weight, if measured against the international standard ISO 22620.


The need to consider the recovery of a product’s traditional disposal is required to combat the environmental damage caused by the discarding of end of life products. Product recovery can be used to minimise the demand for energy and raw materials and the environmental impact of waste. Product recovery proposes that the management logic of the system is changed from an ‘open’ production system to a ‘closed’ one of variable length, as demonstrated below.


The open loop describes a process which starts by taking resources from the ecosystem. The raw materials and energy are channelled into the transformation process, and, finally, the process ends with landfill disposal or incineration process.


For this situation to be sustainable, the consumption of natural resource needs to be lower than the ecosystem’s ability to regenerate them. By contrast, in the closed loop scenario, supply chain recovery activities are undertaken which delay the product disposal by starting new production cycles on the product, before treatment and disposal.


Remanufacturing is currently playing a significant part in the sustainability and economics of the automotive industry. European regulations for end-of-life have forced VMs to consider recycling when designing new models and remanufacturing is helping to meet environmental targets in relation to greenhouse gasses and preserving the earth’s natural resources by reusing them, rather than just sending unwanted material to landfill sites.


Also, as more new technology is being incorporated into modern vehicles, components are becoming more expensive due to their complexity and, sometimes, as a result of the materials used in their construction, such as platinum, palladium and rhodium in catalytic converters. Remanufacturing of these components preserves the precious metals used and can offer a significant saving over a new replacement component. A good remanufactured part will perform as well as, if not better than the original part, since any design faults will be engineered out ensuring the reliability of the finished remanufactured part.


However, remanufacturing is also facing significant challenges from the changing technology. This is due to the continual investment required and the lack of information available to independent remanufacturers. Also, changes in drivetrain technology to electric and hydrogen fuel-cell may mean that, moving forward, there are not as many wearing parts to remanufacture.


Calling on the government to act


Currently, remanufacturers supplying the automotive aftermarket are facing competition from cheaper quality copy products, which are driving prices down and affecting the overall viability of the remanufacturer. There is clearly a case for government intervention, as it is in the national interest to support remanufacturing due to its green credentials in helping to meet national and international environmental targets.


There also needs to be a strong independent remanufacturing industry to ensure that the original equipment manufacturers do not establish a monopoly, which is not in the interest of the consumer or the automotive industry, in particular, the automotive aftermarket.


Many people now consciously look at the environmental issues when replacing personal vehicles, so our ‘Captains of Industry’ need to consider the implications of their purchasing decisions when selecting parts to stock in their businesses. We all have a duty to future generations to protect the environment, and the UK remanufacturing industry is well-placed to serve the sector, being able to accommodate short production runs and offer cost-effective replacement parts, particularly for less popular applications.


Autoelectro is leading the way for UK-based remanufacturing, having invested heavily in remanufacturing processes, some of the most advanced test equipment in the world and an industry-leading website, which allows customers to track and allocate outstanding surcharges. If properly managed, it can result in trading virtually surcharge-free; thus, removing one of the obstacles of supporting remanufactured products.


Clearly, remanufacturing can play an important role in protecting our environment, but also by promoting the benefits of remanufactured product and educating the end-user, without necessarily compromising margins.


The automotive sector is trying to be more environmentally-friendly, with new technologies being introduced to new cars, and aftermarket industry influencers can play their part by considering remanufactured product whilst driving their latest low emission vehicle. We have an obligation to protect our planet for future generations.

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Thanks and goodbye, you wonderful aftermarket people – I’ve had a ball…

As most of you will know by now, I am shortly to leave CAT and the aftermarket. I’m off to Autosport magazine to harass the motorsport world and give you guys a rest! But before I go, I wanted to share with you some of my best bits.

There have been more than a few funny moments sitting in the CAT ad sales seat and perhaps the most shocking for me was seeing one of the industry’s most notorious chatterboxes and ladies’ men lost for words when at one industry dinner, a rather fetching young lady marched straight up to him told him in no uncertain terms about the extra-curricular activities she’d be willing to enjoy with him.

“What, right here, right now?” he stammered and blushed, proving that he is more of a gentleman and certainly more bashful than I had given him credit for, and that aftermarket dinners can offer more than business networking, if you play your cards right!

Talking of industry dinners, they really do make you realise just how few women there are in this sector. Now, I have been brought up within a male-dominated world within motorcycle racing but the aftermarket is a different place altogether!

When I’m not in my leathers and motorcycle boots, I do like to glam up and my very first ADF dinner [the IAAF now, keep up – Ed] provided the perfect opportunity for me to wear my favourite designer dress and towering heels.

Although I spent much of the evening hoping that no one would notice I was walking like Robin Williams in Mrs Doubtfire (I may like to glam up, but I’ve never quite mastered the heels bit!), I didn’t bank on standing out from the crowd so much.

As I leaned against the bar, I was startled to be thrown into the air by a member of staff from a very well established parts manufacturer. The whole bar looked at me as I begged to be put down! Once touching floor, I ran as fast as I could and hid behind my manager with a barrage of drunken men following!

On a good note, there was never a queue for the ladies loos!

There were many more shocking and funny moments but I do have a serious message too. Two years on from joining CAT as an aftermarket newbie, I’ve learned so much about what makes this industry great, and I hope that I’ve done you all proud, helping you to get the most out of your marketing budgets and delivering you more business.

I’ve got huge amount of respect for this industry, Yes, we had a few hiccups during the recession, but motorists were fixing their existing cars. It was the OEM side that struggled, but we all fought it and the majority of us got through the other side. The aftermarket is strong.

I’ll leave you with one last best bit, the bit where I took Dave Bates, marketing manager at Wipac, to the WRC and I managed to totally show myself up.

Yes, you guessed it – a certain Mr. Valentino Rossi was racing and I got rather excited! The lovely Mr. Bates did everything in his power to clear a path through the crowd for me so I could get to the man of my dreams, and then it happened!

After screaming like a nutter, Rossi looked me dead in the eyes. It was the best moment of my life (though probably for him the scariest!).

So, this is it, thank you all for one of the best rides of my life. I’ve made a lot of friends in the aftermarket and I plan to keep in touch with you. I especially want to hear the gossip that comes out of the next ADF, or rather, IAAF, dinner!

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CAT’s tame senior sales exec heads off in search of lions and baboons

CAT's tame senior sales exec is a big pussy cat really

Our tame senior sales exec is a big pussy cat, really

Hello everyone, sorry it has been a while since my last blog but a lot has gone on!

To start with, our Awards in January were spectacular and I am so proud to be part of CAT Mag. I also got to sit next to the wonderful Jonathan Allen of Federal Mogul!

Wow what an event – Jim and Emma were wicked hosts and the venue was stunning! Also a big thank you to those of you who came to the Anglers pub afterwards – you were wonderful company.

So it was a great start to the year but I have to admit that, right now, I am a little stressed because thanks to the terrible weather, I have not been able to get out on the motorcycle. Maybe I should invest in a dirt bike!

And on the subject of biking, I want to say a massive well done to Leon Haslam for his world Superbikes performance – a Brit on the podium!!!

But the most exciting aftermarket news of the moment is …drum roll… that this afternoon, I am off on my hols to Kenya to chase baboons and lions!

This is going to be a trip of a lifetime and I am soooo excited! As many of you will know, I am a huge animal lover and cannot wait to see some sanctuaries.

I want to say a huge thank you to Tony Bhogal of Autoelectro for giving me some pens to take out to an orphanage. I feel this is going to be a real eye opener and I will see first-hand just how lucky us Brits are.

I promise to come back armed with photos for my next blog, and I am sure there will be a lot of happiness for those of you I bug all day when you see me being eaten by a lion!

I will be returning to work on 14th April (as long as I manage to avoid the crocs, that is!). While I’m gone, please contact Martin Lee on 020 8267 5839 or email him at

Take care everyone xxx

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A Kiss from Valentino – the only way to start 2010

I have to say my first thank you of 2010 to Terry at Universal Automotive who is now on my Christmas card list for next year [It’s a very prestigious list, I’ve seen it! – Ed].

Why? Because he was kind enough to send me a signed Valentino Rossi poster made out to me and complete with a kiss! My very own personalised poster from the world’s greatest motorcycle racer has now been given pride of place in my front room where everyone can see it – along with a security device good enough for the Mona Lisa!

While I’m on, next week on the 14th and 15th of January I shall be attending the Autosport International show at the NEC in Birmingham.

If you want to meet up to discuss 2010 CAT Mag advertising or take a break for a general chitchat and a cuppa, drop me an email at and we’ll make a date.

Lastly I would like to say a belated Happy New Year! I hope you had a good one. I went to Waterloo Bridge and waited for the fireworks. I will NEVER do this again – far warmer to watch it on the telly!

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Lobby gets excited by a room that changes colours

Freud HQI have just returned from Germany, on a trip to the Freudenberg HQ as guests of Corteco.

I never realised just how much research and manufacturing effort goes into seals and vibration control in cars (the vibration testing machine was awesome).

And also, I had no idea that the history of Freudenberg stretches all the way back to the 19th century, when the company began manufacturing high-quality leather for shoes.

Their automotive history began in the 1920s with the invention of a leather seal – and from then, it’s been growth all the way for one of Germany’s blue-ribbon companies.

The way they do things in Germany seems very different to the UK.

For instance, during a tour of Freudenberg’s innovation centre, I came across a ‘space age’ room that changes colour depending on the aims of the people working in it!

I swear this is true: the colours used apparently help activate the brain, in order to stimulate creativity.

Office layout was vastly different to the way we do things, as well.

Space is considered very important. No-one has a desk as we know them; instead people work on portable units which they gather in the morning, plug into a work station that’s free, before packing everything away into the unit at the end of the day.

If you didn’t like the person you were working next to, you could just wheel yourself off to another work station! Brilliant! Watch out Martin Henry!!!

There are more staff rooms too, giving a breathing space that lets staff members take a break.

They even have a table football game – but Reiner Martsfeld, one of Corteco’s big bosses, seemed reluctant to indulge in a one-off Germany v England match with our publisher, Jim Foster!

Posters are displayed openly with support and a gentle prod to help staff with ideas and also the fact that there is no such thing as a bad idea.

Staff brainstorm all creative ideas. This is so important, as new ideas are the key to business success, whether it be packaging design, advert design, new products, store layout or innovations.

Anyone who speaks to me on the phone would be very aware of the background noise we sometimes get here at CAT, which drives me barmy!

What a difference it would make to have an office where we can think and work without interruption. But at the same time, I suppose I have to concede that I have never met a quiet sales person!

Reiner Martsfeld (left) and Steve Jarnet of Corteco

Reiner Martsfeld (left) and Steve Jarnet of Corteco

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Karen Reilly’s blog: “My nickname is Lobby!”

This is me. Lobby the Lobster

This is me. Lobby the Lobster

Oh no. After Equip Auto, my nickname is now out of the bag within trade circles.

So I guess you may want to know what it is? Lobby. Yes, I am Lobby.

Steve Jarnett of Corteco calls me it exclusively now (cheers Steve!). Mind you, I could think of worse nicknames.

In fact, most of the clients I met at Equip Auto last week have started calling me it, so you may as well all know about it too.

Most people think it’s cute and then wonder, why on earth ‘Lobby’?

The answer is simple – I go very red in the sun, just like a lobster. People used to call me the Lobster, then that got shortened to Lobby, which has stuck…

Anyway, onto Equip Auto. As I have never been before, I was waiting to be hit by something similar to Automechanika in size: but it wasn’t.

I was a bit disappointed by that, but it was still a good show, and on the plus side we did meet up with many clients and enjoyed Paris.

We travelled out there on the Eurostar and, on the way out, I was stopped by security and told I had too many magazines in my suitcase.

I’m probably now a wanted magazine smuggler!

That said, I got through the interrogations okay (though I got a bit worried when a latex rubber glove appeared) and kept my nerve… and got the magazines through to France.

Next smuggling date will be Automechanika, Frankfurt, Germany!

I did find Paris far too expensive. I even heard that the French come to the UK to buy beer. I am not surprised at 11 Euro a pint.

I was on the diet Cokes… and whatever my clients fed me on their stands. Some Pernod from European Exhausts and Catalysts knocked me sideways, while some yellow lemon stuff from MTS floored me. They enjoyed the sight of a tiddly Lobby a little too much!

Now onto the important stuff.

There are two rounds left of this year’s MotoGP and Rossi is leading the championship, but needs to stay ahead of Lorenzo.

The best bit is that I will be in Valencia for the last round and I am working to get into the end of season party.

“Rossi, come to Lobby! Rossi! Oy, get your ass over here…”ROSSI

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Blown away by lap time at Snetterton

Me on my green demon Kawasaki

Me on my green demon Kawasaki

Making the most of what is left of our summer, I enjoyed a fantastic track day at Snetterton race circuit on my beloved motorcycle.

What a day! The winds at Snetterton are so strong that I was forced to ride my Dad’s GSXR 750 – I was being knocked about everywhere on my Kawasaki!

Did you know that Snetterton was made up from two airport runways? Indeed it was.

It is such a fast circuit and I was ever so excited when I did a fantastic lap time of 1 minute, 31 seconds.

Then I phoned my big bro, Kelvin, who told me that his quickest time was 1 minute, 9! I think I shall race him at washing up, but I probably wouldn’t even beat him at that!

While I’m on the subject, I have a massive thank you to say to Rock Oil, who have sponsored my dear brother for over 15 years in motorcycle racing.

We do not thank sponsors often enough but if it wasn’t for these companies we would not have racing as we know it, whether it be bikes, cars, scooters or even lawnmowers.

My big brother will be at Silverstone for the last round of the KTM championship in the British Superbikes September 25-27 – Go Kelvin!

Talking of racing, when I visited FAI recently I was intrigued to see pictures all round the office of Sean Walker and his racing years. He had quite a few funny stories to tell, too.

How many more of our Aftermarket trade have been involved in motorsport? I would love to think we have some wacky racers among us.

Oh and one last thing before I sign off – a massive congrats to Mr Rossi for winning at Misano!

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In the paddock with Rossi – thank you Haynes

Karen on her Kawasaki

Karen on her Kawasaki

Well what a lucky girl I am!

For any of you who have the pleasure of knowing me, I have just had one of the best days of my life courtesy of Haynes Manuals who are now my nbf (new best friend for those who have no idea what I am on about)…

Haynes helped to bring me closer to the love of my life when they invited me to the MotoGP at Donington.


I cannot believe that I was in the paddock with VALENTINO ROSSI! I stood by his truck, looked at his enormous garage and got very excited that I was standing in the same place as the biggest motorcycle legend of all time.

Watching the bikes was magnificent, seeing the speeds they get up to.

And even though it was raining and the love of my life fell off while leading the race (but got back on and finished 5th – legend), I had the greatest day ever.


We stood at the Melbourne loop under our huge brolly and grinned for the whole day.

At the end of the race, I waited for James Toseland to come out of his garage and sign my big brother’s 30th birthday card, as they used to race together many years ago.

I got a big kiss and a cuddle from James, which made me the envy of all the adoring female fans.

I then decided to invite myself to be a member of his race team and his personal assistant – it didn’t work, but I think I can wear him down.


Once I had finished acting like a lusting teenager, I turned round to see the true love of my life… but Valentino had gone. I just saw him zooming off on his scooter.

Alas, my heart broke in to a million pieces.

If you are reading this Mr. Haynes Manuals, THANK YOU. You made a true MotoGP fan very happy and I will put you on my Christmas card list forever.

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My first blog, by Karen Reilly, age 23

Valentino Rossi doing what he does best

Valentino Rossi doing what he does best

Welcome to my brand spanking new blog. As you many of you know, I am a straight talking girl and will not mix my words, so hopefully we will have some fun here!


Well to start things off, I have two big loves in my life. The first is the truly remarkable Valentino Rossi – please tell me someone saw that last lap at Catalunya!

The second is my beautiful Kawasaki Z750 – in green! I know every last thing about that bike, right down to the type of gaskets I have, but this has got me thinking.

The thing is, I have no idea what oil I have in my car or what the tyres are for that matter – my excuse is that I have a company car so I don’t have any say in what parts are replaced.

But what about other car owners?


I decided to ask a good friend of mine about her recent car service, even though she knows as much about cars as I know about agriculture!

“Were any parts changed and if so who were the parts made by?”  I asked.

Now the reply was not what I was expecting: “Wilsons”. Hmmm, I tried to explain that this was the garage that fixed her car but soon realised I was wasting my time.

She was more likely to think of the ball in the Tom Hanks film ‘Castaway’.


I decided to speak to another friend who has the most well-kept Subaru Impreza I have ever seen for an early 20-something.

Having learned from speaking to my other friend, I asked the most simple question: “Who makes your oil filter?”

Well, I wished I had never asked. Off she went: “K & N mate, sweet as, plus I am looking to replace my old brakes with the new Brembos, proper wicked they are…” I won’t repeat it all here – you are busy people!

The real question is, I guess, does the everyday motorist actually need to know? It would be great to hear your feedback.

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