Archive | Greg Whitaker’s diary

UNIVERSAL TYRES VISIT

The smart way of tyre dealing

 

General Manager Michael Jackson explains how Universal Tyres and Parts has grown in the face of change

 

 

Anyone with an old Beatles album must have noticed the ‘Hayes Middlesex’ address on the back, and affectionados of vinyl might know that part of the old pressing plant has been restored and once again, part of it is still pressing records.

However, just around the corner there is another part of the old site that has swapped vinyl for rubber as for many years it has been home to Universal Tyres and Parts, one of the largest regional wholesale distributors of tyres. The site looks reminiscent of a railway shunting yard as the cobbled courtyard had a number of rail tracks embedded in it.

 

“The rails are there because the records would be pressed over the road and then be stored in our warehouses before being shipped out on the canal” explained Michael Jackson, a Director at Universal. The tyre wholesaler rescued a clutch of buildings from a state of semi dereliction over a period of years. Apart from the deco-fronted warehouse the firm also occupies a suite of grand-looking offices that were once something to do with the record company, as well as a one-time storage area which is now a retail workshop offering the public around-the-wheel services as well as servicing and MOTs.

 

 Turnover

However, wholesale is the mainstay of the business and the last decade has seen turnover grow from £6m to almost £14m. That same period has been one of dramatic change across the tyre industry as a whole. “Before, tyre companies were a little world within themselves, and there was a bit of snobbery to anyone that was ‘outside’” said Jackson. “Now, we deal with a lot more service and repair garages (rather than just tyre fitters) because everyone is diversifying”.

 

Like the rest of the parts trade, it has been the advent of multiple daily deliveries that has been driving this diversification. Multiple drops mean that small workshops don’t need to hold a large stock pack in order to introduce a tyre bay. The garage equipment needed to change tyres is more accessible than ever these days, thanks to cheap finance and lease options – although Jackson cautions that not all beading machines are created equal. “Some garages see adverts for cheap tyre machines, but then realise that the equipment can’t take larger wheel sizes or are suitable for TPMS etc” he said, adding that Universal are always happy to put clients in touch with any number of equipment dealers that can supply the right kit.

 

Electronic trading

The greatest change to the business in recent years is the adoption of electronic trading. A decade ago, Universal received perhaps a third of orders electronically, and Jackson says that a survey at the time showed the prevailing attitude of clients was that they ‘prefered to talk to a person’. Today, the situation has reversed, with eight out of ten orders being made electronically. Hard parts factors who say that their customers will never accept online ordering should take note…

 

Another area where the trade has changed is the number of tyres in any one particular size. 205/55R16 is the most common size, but there are hundreds of different options. Jackson used an example of a customer who can’t quite get their head around the idea of how many choices there are. “The customer might say ‘oh just send me a Conti’, but we might have 15 different Continental tyres available with different brand fitment, run flat and speed ratings, and there might be 50 different options in total when summer and winter tyres are taken into account”.

 

To manage amount of inventory a particularly lean system needs to be in place. The warehouse has two full floors with a conveyor rather than just a simple mezzanine. The inventory is large, but as with most just-in-time systems, daily deliveries of stock are required to keep the profile up to date. Walking around, it is fascinating to see the range of tyres stocked. We notice a set of white walls for an original Fiat 500 alongside van tyres, mud and snow tyres tyres and everything in between. “We have tyres for everything, from a wheelbarrow, to these, for a Ferrari Enzo” Jackson said, showing us the Enzo tyres by way of proof. “We don’t sell many of those, but if someone orders a set, they expect them immediately” he beamed.

 

Special racking has been put in place to maximise every square centimetre of space and in recent years the firm has migrated to a cloud-based management system called TyreSoft, which has proved popular with customers because as soon as a van has a manifest, a message is automatically sent to the customer telling them of the time of arrival of their order and the invoice is emailed as well. “It’s a smart way of doing it” concluded Jackson.

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Movers Correction

In Movers and Shakers in the July issue, we mentioned that Carl Whitlam has started in a role at Hella Gutmann Solutions.

Well,  gremlins got into the system and we had mistakenly picked up a story dated exactly one year earlier. Carl Whitlam is no longer at HGS. We apologise to all for the confusion caused.

 

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PEOPLE NEWS: JIM MAZZA JOINS PDP BUYING GROUP

PEOPLE NEWS: JIM MAZZA JOINS PDP BUYING GROUP

Buying group Parts Distribution Partnership has announced that Jim Mazza will be joining the Group’s management team with immediate effect. Working with the members, he will assist in every aspect of the groups development.

Jim Mazza will be best known to CAT readers as the former Managing Director of AAG’s trading groups in the UK. Prior to that, he enjoyed a successful career at plumbing and builder’s merchant Wolseley UK.

PDP Chair, Alastair Whatmore commented: “With consolidation in the market showing little signs of slowing down, we recognise the need to change, to grow and to develop a group that is well positioned to take advantage of the opportunities that undoubtedly exist for independent motor factors and suppliers. Jim has an impressive track record in the automotive aftermarket and brings to our group a wealth of experience and buying group knowledge which will undoubtedly help us achieve our objectives”.

Jim Mazza added: “A decision to join the PDP team was not taken lightly and having spent some time looking at what the PDP does and its hopes and aspirations, I came away convinced that the group presents exciting prospects to grow and develop initially for the benefit of the existing membership, but ultimately for those motor factors looking for safe harbour in turbulent times”.

“PDP is undoubtedly a platform to build on, and I am looking forward with relish to working with the group, its members and its supplier partners and helping PDP achieve its ambitions”.

 

 

 

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COULD YOU BE GARAGE OF THE YEAR 2018?

COULD YOU BE GARAGE OF THE YEAR 2018?

PROMOTION ARTICLE ON BEHALF OF AUTOMECHANIKA

Automechanika Birmingham is calling on independent garages across the UK to enter its  ‘Garage of the Year’ award, returning for its second year and will be bigger than ever before.

The competition is open to all garages across the United Kingdom, with entrants explaining the reasons why they should win the coveted award and walk away with £1000. This year, there are six categories for garages to enter, recognising the diversity of UK garage businesses.

The winner of each category will be announced at an evening dinner to be held at The Director’s Club, Aston Villa FC on 5 June, which all category finalists will be invited to attend free of charge. The overall Garage of the Year winner will then be announced at the show on 6 June from these six category winners.

Last year’s first-ever ‘Garage of the Year’ award was won by local garage MotorServ-UK Solihull, which gained the most votes in the battle for top spot, with Philips Garage Ltd from Glasgow narrowly missing out and finishing second overall, and Shropshire-based garage EAC Telford coming third.

This year’s categories are:

• Best Small Garage
• Best Large Garage
• Best Community Initiative award
• ‘Auto-mechanik’ of the Year
• Technology Innovation Award
• Business Innovation Award

Simon Albert, Managing Director of Automechanika Birmingham, said: “The awards this year take on an exciting new development with an evening dinner to name the category winners and celebrate their achievement.

“Last year 75 garages entered – we anticipate that number to significantly increase this year. The finalists will all benefit from a raised business profile, these awards are a great way to reward the hard work and contribution that garages give to the automotive industry.”

The award is being run in partnership with Garage Wire. Interested garages are advised to ‘save the dates’ of 5-6 June and look out for more details in the near future. Anyone interested in entering can get the entry form here

The competition is part of a larger offering for garages at the 2018 exhibition. The organisers have introduced a dedicated Garage Quarter offering over 130 suppliers of tools and workshop equipment, services and innovative products as well as a Garage Social area. End users will benefit from a new specialist demo hub which will showcase live action across body repair and vehicle customisation as well as a Business Services Village giving garages free advice on how to run a business more efficiently. The ever popular Workshop Training Hub will return for 2018, bigger and better than before including expert speakers and free training. The Garage Quarter will stay open on Wednesday 6 June until 7pm to allow business owners and technicians to make the most out of their day out of the workshop.

Garage visitors will also benefit from free parking at the NEC and free breakfast upon arrival. Visitors looking to sign up can register for their free ticket here: https://www.automechanika-birmingham.com/welcome/get-your-free-ticket

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DATE NIGHT: YOUR CHANCE TO BE ON A CALENDAR

PROMOTION ON BEHALF OF HELLA

HELLA – 2019 Workshop Calendar Competition

Chipping Warden, October 2017 HELLA is looking for workshops that have ‘something special’ to feature in the company’s 2019 “Experts At Work” calendar to celebrate the dedication and commitment that technicians make to the industry globally. 

HELLA, a world renowned manufacturer of automotive components and lighting solutions, is giving workshops the opportunity to enter the competition to show what makes their business extraordinary. Whether it is a team of excellent employees, working with exceptional cars or perhaps it’s in the most unusual location – HELLA wants to hear from you!

To enter, workshops simply need to send in a few photos that really showcase their premises or what makes it different, along with a short description of why they have got what it takes to be featured in the calendar.

The winners will receive a range of top quality prizes including an exclusive photo shoot by a professional photographer, as well as the international “Experts At Work” award from HELLA, with their pictures used in the calendar, which will be distributed worldwide. Last, but by no means least, the winners will also receive a fantastic package worth almost £500 for their workshops. 

The competition is underway, but closes on 6th November 2017, so don’t delay, apply today! For all the details about this exciting opportunity visit www.facebook.com/hella.deutschland and like the page. Alternatively you can also access https://www.hella-contest.com/en/

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LUCAS BATTERIES SPONSORS GRAFF LEMANS CAR

Ecobat Battery Technologies, which uses the Lucas Batteries brand under licence, is to sponsor a LeMans racer.

The Graff Racing Gibson V8 powered ORECA 07 LMP2 racer will be driven by former Formula 3 champion James Winslow, who is in his first season in driving for Graff Racing.

Commenting on the association, EBT’s Steve Sheppard said: “Since the formal consolidation of our various battery businesses spread throughout Europe, which was completed last year, we have been looking for an opportunity to promote the pan-European nature of EBT.

“Le Mans is a truly global event and therefore provides us with just such a platform, while also providing the opportunity to raise awareness of the Lucas battery brand to both our many trade customers and the wider motoring public.

 

 

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RAC FOUNDATION WARNS OF AUTONOMOUS VEHICLE MOT CHANGES

RAC FOUNDATION WARNS OF AUTONOMOUS VEHICLE MOT CHANGES

A Director of the RAC Foundation has warned of how the MOT will need to adapt as vehicles have an increasing amount of autonomy, backed by sensors.

In an interview on Radio 4’s Today programme Wednesday morning, Steve Gooding said: “We need to get our heads around how to certify that these vehicles are roadworthy. We are dealing with artificial intelligence and that represents a challenge”

Gooding also spoke about an issue that had been recently raised by a House of Lords technology committee that the most concerning issue about the vehicles was the point that they hand control back to the driver.

Also speaking on the same segment was Paul Newman, Founder of Oxbotica – a company developing control systems for autonomous vehicles. On the subject of connected cars and hacking, he said: “It is something we think about all the time and it is important… We need to bring trust in these vehicles”. He added that the same concerns would in time ‘affect anything that moves’ including farm vehicles and mining machines.self driving Jaguar

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Obituary: Steve Tranter

Steve Tranter, a long serving Product Manager with CES UK and The Parts Alliance, hassteve_tranter died after losing his battle with illness.
He built his career in the aftermarket, which stretched across 40 years.

Steve spent 20 years working for CES, a Parts Alliance Group business, latterly moving to a role with The Parts Alliance in Chester for whom he was Product Manager for Emissions.

Steve was widely known for his personality, kindness and above all, his technical expertise. He was willing to share his knowledge and contributed to articles in the automotive aftermarket press.

His first job was as a replenishment officer, later moving high up the career ladder as a Managing Director and Operations Director with different businesses before joining CES.

Away from work Steve liked all things automotive and was also an avid follower of Manchester United.
Steve leaves a partner, Colette, and two children. His funeral will take place on Friday, 10 February at St Thomas’ All Saints Church, Ellesmere Port.

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Pagid launch ‘Ready for Anything’ promotion

Friction brand Pagid have sent us details of in interesting customer-facing promotion . Details are as follows:

Pagid, the UK’s biggest-selling braking brand, has announced the launch of its new winter promotion and safety campaign – ‘Ready for Anything’. The campaign covers a range of winter motoring safety advice, while the new promotion offers a chance to win spectacular once-in-a-lifetime prizes.

Visitors to the dedicated Pagid winter website at pagidwinter.com will find winter driving techniques, cold weather car check info, and some very useful winter motoring videos. In addition, Pagid is giving away a VIP trip for two to the original Ice Hotel in Sweden. Winners will enjoy three-nights of arctic fun with a stay in the magical Ice Hotel itself, a Northern Lights discovery trip and a sled-dog adventure.

The promotion, which can be entered by purchasing Pagid products throughout December 2016 and January 2017, also has runner-up prizes comprising Pagid-branded North Face jackets and special Pagid ‘Ready for Anything’ winter kits – packed full of seasonal motoring essentials.

Keeping customers safe this winter

Driving in winter conditions brings its own unique set of challenges. Be it excess water, dirt, gravel, leaves, ice or even snow, the upshot is that the slippery roads bring safety to the fore.

For garages, it can also provide opportunities to boost business. Demand for winter tyres has increased in recent years, but there are other areas of a car that need checking to stay safe in the hardy, winter conditions. Testing the coolant levels and the quality of antifreeze can be crucial in the winter months, and this could be an opportunity to offer a free check of the coolant, or even a full car winter inspection.

Offering free (or low cost) checks reassures customers, increases potential loyalty, and gets people into the garage.

Two other elements often overlooked are the clarity of headlights and the air conditioning. Garages should always ensure headlights are polished to their former and less hazardous glory, and with air con, blowers that are not operating properly will suck in cold humid air from the outside and will not clear windows quickly enough. A recharged air con system will demist windows faster with warm, dry air, so this area is worth a thorough check.

More obviously, brakes are a serious safety element that can have serious consequences during inclement conditions. For example, brake wear should be even across each axle to avoid potential wayward moments during emergencies; especially if the grip levels differ on each side, which can be common during this time of year.

Ready for Anything

Sadie Jonas, Business Development Manager at Pagid said,

“We hope that Pagid’s ‘Ready for Anything’ campaign will raise awareness for keeping drivers safe as the temperatures plummet. In icy conditions, stopping distances can be ten times longer than they are in dry conditions, so brakes operating at optimum performance are obviously crucial; but so too are many other factors, including tyres, lights, coolants and even air-con systems. Our dedicated winter site covers all this advice, and we’re delighted to offer some ice-cool prizes, including that very special trip to the Arctic Circle to stay in the Ice Hotel”.

‘Ready for Anything’ will also be promoted on Pagid’s successful social media sites including Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram. To enter the promotion, trade customers just need to make a Pagid purchase from Euro Car Parts between 1st December 2016 and 31st January 2017, and then register online at pagidwinter.com Customers need to retain their invoice to register the purchase on the website (and to claim prizes).

Pagid’s range of braking products is available exclusively through Euro Car Parts. Customers can find their local branch by entering their postcode on the Pagid website pagid.com/distribution  

For more details, videos, advice, prize information and terms & conditions, customers can visit the dedicated Pagid ‘Ready for Anything’ website, or ask their Euro Car Parts sales advisor.

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AUTOINFORM GOES LIVE THIS WEEKEND

There’s just time to get your hands on one of the last places for this year’s Autoinform LIVE event, being held this weekend at the GTG Academy in Wolverhampton.

The event is the UK’s biggest and best workshop training event, featuring 24 timetabled training sessions – each delivered by an OESAA-approved trainer – separated into three colour-coded packages to help simplify the event for new attendees.

Autoinform LIVE has carefully tailored its package options to suit delegates old and new, with ‘Green’ modules aimed at first time visitors, ‘Amber’ sessions targeted at those who have visited the event twice and ‘Red’ for those who have attended every show since it began three years ago. (More information on the training modules available can be found here)

A gala dinner will once again take place on Saturday evening, with popular comedian Mick Miller now confirmed to help provide a lively end to the first day. The entire weekend costs just £195 +VAT, which includes all training, lunch and refreshments at the GTG Academy, plus a Gala Dinner ticket including welcome drinks, meal, entertainment and coach transfers from selected hotels.rsz_gtgwolverhampton

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