From aftermarketNews.com Staff Reports
AKRON, OH — Dan Daniel, president of ArvinMeritor’s Light Vehicle Aftermarket (LVA) division, shared his predictions and plans for the future of ArvinMeritor’s LVA unit during an exclusive presentation on May 11 to Babcox editors and media representatives.
ArvinMeritor is an $8 billion dollar company, with $850 million in annual sales at its Light Vehicle Aftermarket division, which Daniel leads. Two-thirds of the company’s business is in North America.
LVA provides exhaust, lift support, filter and ride control products to a full range of aftermarket customers, including distribution retailers, wholesalers and retail service providers. Their three major brands are Purolator filtration products, Arvin Exhaust products and Gabriel shocks and ride control products.
Daniel started his conversation by emphasizing that, while business thus far in ’04 is strong, it is being offset by extreme and sudden (often unpredictable) price increases for raw materials, such as steel. Daniel said that this is the single biggest issue in the industry today. In many instances steel pricing, as an example, is some 50 to 60 percent higher than it was just twelve months ago.
Daniel said business in the traditional exhaust category has been leveling off in recent years, but surprisingly he anticipates a modest increase in the category this year. The company offers exhaust products in three categories: tailpipe, catalytic converters and performance. Daniel said he expects the performance and catalytic converter segments to make up 50 percent of LVA’s total exhaust business by 2006. The performance side of the exhaust segment in particular, he said, is an area of steady growth.
At the AAPEX 2003 show, the company announced a new initiative — Light Vehicle Aftermarket University — offering online training for its customers on catalytic converters, air filters, OBD II systems and performance exhaust. The business-to-business Web site — http://armlva.arvinmeritor.com — also offers a course called “Selling Shocks and Struts.”
This is another key part of LVA’s current focus. Daniel said the company is working on building a network of “skilled and confident” technicians who are better able to recommend and sell ride control products. A key to this strategy is the formation of channel partnerships at the local level to help implement it thoroughly. “It’s all about marketing to technicians,” he said.
LVA also launched a new lineup of Gabriel shocks in November at the show. The line-up features new packaging, consolidated SKUs and a new marketing strategy. Marketed under the brand names Guardian, ProGuard and Ultra, the new line-up promotes a ‘good, better, best’ strategy by offering entry-level, mid-level and premium products.
Yet another element of this effort is the launch of LVA’s consumer-oriented Web site — www.checkyourshocks.com . Through the Web site, the company is seeking to distinguish its ride control products while generating demand and acceptance among consumers. Daniel emphasized, though that “safety is still the critical message for ride control marketing.”
Overall, Daniel said the aftermarket industry needs to focus on innovation, speed-to-market and solutions for a more convenient and economical vehicle. He believes there is still too much inventory throughout the channel, and that collaboration is the key to resolving this issue.
Daniel is an active volunteer on AAIA’s Category Management Committee, and his goal is to “increase the visibility of the supply chain.” Daniel said the future is bright for LVA, as well as the industry in general, and he looks forward to the upcoming challenges and creating value for ArvinMeritor shareholders to invest in.
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