Your business invented a new product and took the time to patent the invention. Now you have a pretty plaque on the wall commemorating your patent grant, but what else can you do with those rights? How does your business realize a return on its patent investment?
With the SEMA Show wrapped up and a new year on its way, SEMA-member companies are busy absorbing the latest aftermarket trends and adjusting their marketing and sales strategies for 2018. The task can seem overwhelming, especially after experiencing the dizzying array of new products and innovations that flooded the recent Show.
If you think the drive toward more vehicle autonomy and connectedness won’t impact your business, think again. Advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and connected vehicle technologies (CVT) are already flooding the OEM marketplace and rippling through the aftermarket in new and unexpected ways, reshaping the design, production, sales and servicing of a surprising array of parts and accessories. The only question is whether your business is ahead of, keeping pace with, or behind the rapid wave of opportunities heading our way.
The ’80s were a lively time for Jim Maher, a racer born in Ohio and transplanted to California after high school. He competed in the California Independent Funny Car Association (CIFCA) series and, as a true enthusiast, knew the intricacies of his blown alcohol Funny Car better than he knew himself, making him the go-to guy for advice both on and off the dragstrip. As Maher’s knowledge and experience grew, so did the number of those coming to him for coaching, mechanical assistance and general racing wisdom. In 1987, Maher took over as the president of CIFCA, tasked with growing the series and overseeing operations while simultaneously running his own racing team.
Project Underdog, a highly customized ’72 Ford Maverick originally conceived by actor Sung Kang, is finished, fine-tuned, revved and ready for auction. Sponsored by Shell and featuring Pennzoil, and supported by Ford Motor Co., Samsung, Nitto, GReddy, Rocket Bunny and Facebook, the unique vehicle build was completed at the SEMA Garage in Diamond Bar, California, with specialized tuning provided by Cobb Tuning, headquartered in Austin, Texas.
Teaming up 12 years ago, siblings Cole Shaffer and Kellie Pitre set out to buy and resurrect University Auto Parts, a NAPA outlet in Boulder, Colorado. Pitre’s role in the rapid parlaying of that store into a $10 million family business of three successful locations earned her 2016 recognition on the annual SEMA News “35 Under 35” roster of up-and-coming industry professionals. Since last year, that collection of Colorado locations has grown to a total of five.
The term restyling covers a broad range of automotive upgrades. While the biggest portion of the segment is made up of accessory and appearance products for both interiors and exteriors, it can also include certain performance parts, wheels, tires and suspension systems that don’t fit neatly into another category. Since the Great Recession, the restyling market has seen steady growth, according to the “2016 SEMA Market Report,” and annual retail sales in the segment are now more than $5.22 billion.
Still riding the wave of a recent marketplace shift, the utility task vehicle, better known as the UTV or side-by-side, is at a major crossroads. Intensive growth in product development and surging sales have helped the side-by-side to become a new staple in the off-road community.
With many businesses in the automotive specialty-equipment market experiencing consolidation and some of the biggest names in the automotive sphere at the center of the activity, mergers and acquisitions have become important topics of discussion. As the market began to recover from the Great Recession, consolidation became a growing trend. Since then, private equity (PE) firms have continued to actively invest in aftermarket companies.
Often thrown about in today’s trendy business and marketing circles, “rich data” can be a confusing buzz term. Nevertheless, it’s become an essential component in the aftermarket supply chain for everyone from manufacturers to warehouse-distributors to retailers. Consequently, manufacturers can obtain a real advantage in mainstream markets if they grasp and follow the latest rich-data best practices.