People Places & Racing News

Movers & Shakers: Advanced Clutch Names Sonnefeldt Director of Sales, Marketing; Autobytel Acquires AutoNation Inc.'s AutoUSA

Advanced Clutch Technology, John Sonnefeldt
John Sonnefeldt recently joined Advanced Clutch Technology as director of sales and marketing.

Advanced Clutch Technology Adds Sonnefeldt as Director of Sales and Marketing
Advanced Clutch Technology (ACT) has added John Sonnefeldt as its direct of sales and marketing. Joining the ACT team signifies Sonnefeldt’s return to the auto aftermarket from Marmon-Herrington Aftermarket Truck Parts. Sonnefeldt has 15 years of experience in the performance automotive aftermarket from well-known brands, such as Auto Meter, Eaton and Holley.

ACT President Dirk Starksen commented on the acquisition, “John’s knowledge and experience ranging from the street-performance market to professional motorsports will be a significant asset to ACT. His proven success is exactly what ACT needs as we continue to grow and expand in the automotive performance aftermarket.”

Autobytel Inc. Acquires AutoNation Inc.'s AutoUSA
Autobytel Inc. announced the acquisition of Ft. Lauderdale-based AutoUSA, which is a web-based auto leads and services provider owned by AutoNation Inc. The purchase price included $10 million in cash, a $1 million, 6% convertible note payable in one lump sum in five years and convertible to Autobytel common stock at a conversion price reflecting a 20% premium over the price of Autobytel’s common stock on the date of closing, and warrants giving AutoNation the right to purchase approximately $1 million of Autobytel’s common stock at an exercise price reflecting a 5% premium over the price of the stock on the date of closing. The transaction was financed by Union Bank, N.A. through a newly established $9 million senior secured term loan, and by drawing on Autobytel’s existing secured working capital revolver. Both the term loan and the revolver carry interest at a rate of LIBOR plus 2.5%. The term loan is amortized over a period of four years. AutoUSA generated 2013 revenues of approximately $30 million, with positive operating income and cash flow. The company believes that the transaction will be accretive to Autobytel’s 2014 results.

Royal Purple Chooses Harmelin Media and Circle One Marketing for Media Outreach
Royal Purple has appointed two separate agencies—Harmelin Media and Circle One Marketing—to handle media planning/buying and brand-advertising strategy and creative for the Porter, Texas-based company. The two companies will partner to develop annual marketing plans but split print, broadcast and digital advertising responsibilities; Harmelin will be responsible for negotiating and managing Royal Purple’s media buys across all platforms and Circle One will oversee the development of brand strategy as well as creative development and execution.

“By leveraging the expertise of two complementary agencies we’ve created an environment where we can reach and even broader range of consumers more effectively,” said Royal Purple Director of Marketing Randy Fisher. “As we expand our focus beyond media that targets just the automotive enthusiast, to include everyday drivers, families and sports fans, we’ll be better equipped to have our advertising work with existing marketing efforts, for an integrated, holistic approach to raising awareness for the Royal Purple brand.”

Carroll Shelby International Inc., Shelby Row
Shelby Row—a collection of Shelby-branded vehicles, products and memorabilia—will be a part of the Scottsdale Collector Car Week.

“Shelby Row” Featured at Scottsdale Collector Car Week
For the first time in Scottsdale Collector Car Week history, Carroll Shelby International Inc. has created “Shelby Row,” featuring the largest collection of genuine branded vehicles, products and memorabilia. Shelby Row debuted at the Barrett-Jackson Auction in Scottsdale, Arizona, January 12. The display will feature Shelby American Inc., the Carroll Shelby Engine Company, Carroll Shelby’s Store, DenBeste Motorsports and Superformance.

“The Row will combine Shelby American, two of its key dealers and the new Carroll Shelby’s Store, putting on display great performance vehicles and parts, as well as unique merchandise, apparel and memorabilia, all in celebration of Carroll’s cars and his life,” said Joe Conway, Co-CEO of Carroll Shelby International.

Shelby American will anchor Shelby Row with a display of the new 624hp Shelby GT, an 850hp Ford Shelby GT500 Super Snake and the Shelby 1000. In addition to showcasing its lineup, the premier performance automaker will unveil an exciting new vehicle in the media center at a press event on Friday, January 17.

University of the Aftermarket Foundation Announces Officers, Board of Trustees
The University of the Aftermarket Foundation has announced its newly elected officers for the coming year. They are: Chairman, Rusty Bishop, AAP; Vice Chairman, Jack Creamer, MAAP; Vice Chairman, Kathleen Schmatz, MAAP; Secretary, John R. Washbish, MAAP; and Treasurer, Tim Lee, MAAP.

In addition, the following individuals will serve on the University of the Aftermarket Foundation board of trustees in the coming year: Bill Babcox; Jeff Brekke, MAAP; Jim Buzzard, AAP; Michael Cardone III; Carolyn Cook; Jeff Darby; Bob Egan, MAAP; Cliff Hovis; Scott Howat, AAP; Bill Long, AAP; Bill Maggs; David O’Reilly; John Passante, AAP; Larry Pavey; Joe Pomaranski, MAAP; Ed Rammel, MAAP; Mort Schwartz, MAAP; David Segal, MAAP; Eric Sills and Jon Zieve. Several more will serve as members of the board of trustees in a variety of support roles: Barbara Cunningham; George Keeley; Ken Marker; Susan Medick, MAAP; Larry Northup, AAP; Margo Shepard and Jennifer Tio.

“We want to thank all of these dedicated men and women for volunteering their time and expertise to help the University of the Aftermarket Foundation continue to make a difference,” said Bishop. “These leaders all share a common goal of bringing more education and training to the auto care industry. We thank them for their continued commitment to the foundation and the future of our great industry.”

Have some company news you would like to share? Let us know and the news may appear in an upcoming issue of SEMA eNews. Send your items for consideration to