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GUEST EDITORIAL: NGK Director Michael Schwab Responds to “A Missed Opportunity”

The following guest editorial comes from Michael Schwab, director for NGK Spark Plugs USA, Inc. He writes the following letter in response to another recently published guest editorial authored by Fred Meyers, titled “A Missed Opportunity,” which addressed Meyers opinions on the value of aftermarket manufacturers’ brands in the technicians mind.

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Editor’s Note: The following guest editorial comes from Michael Schwab, director for NGK Spark Plugs USA, Inc. He writes the following letter in response to another recently published guest editorial authored by Fred Meyers, titled “A Missed Opportunity,” which addressed Meyers opinions on the value of aftermarket manufacturers’ brands in the technicians mind. To read Meyer’s article click on the link at the bottom of this page. The editorial staff of aftermarketNews welcomes and encourages reader feedback, if you have a comment on this or any other article you read on AMN, please drop me a line at [email protected].

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Recently I received my daily e-copy of Today’s News from aftermarketNews and noticed the headline “A Missed Opportunity."

Intrigued, I went on to read the article and was captured a few sentences into the commentary when I read Mr. Meyers would “enlighten leading parts manufacturers on what we should be doing to increase sales.”

Mr. Meyers made several good points, including the fact that manufacturers should participate in helping repair shops fill their bays.

I agree that all members in our supply chain have a role to play and is responsible for helping move more product through the entire channel.

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Most of the leading parts manufacturers currently support these initiatives by our membership in the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association and our partnering in the Be Car Care Aware campaign, supporting the Right to Repair legislation and by helping fund other various industry initiatives.

However, to say that technicians do not care much about brand names is a difficult concept for me to embrace.

Do you feel that these same technicians do not care about the brand of their tools, shop equipment or supplies?

What about the oil they use, the tires they sell or the parts store they buy from?

The brand and branding effort made by any company, be it a durable goods supplier, soft goods manufacturer or a service provider, is extremely important in creating opportunity at each level of the supply chain – any supply chain. This includes auto parts.

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Our branding efforts are essential in creating the feeling, the bond, the image and the vision of who we are and what we do. Branding sets pricing, establishes distribution and ultimately helps grow business – ours, yours and theirs.

Perhaps we may better assist the professional repair shop fill their service bays in other, more pressing ways than by disregarding our brand name. How about helping them improve their brand?

How can we help the independent shop owner learn to run an efficient, clean, consumer-friendly business? How can we provide the appropriate technical training to not only compete with but be superior to the OE dealerships?

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Moreover, how can we help independent repair shops refine their image, or even create a new image – one that instills a feeling of confidence in the consumer instead of a feeling of being taken advantage of?

Most shop owners that already focus the aforementioned areas routinely have full bays.

I am completely dedicated to do whatever it takes to grow my business and to help the other members of my aftermarket channel grow their businesses.

I am also dedicated to the continuous strengthening of my brand and my brand image. This is what separates me from my competitors.

A strong brand will also separate repair shops from their competitors – and fill service bays.

Never forget: A brand is a PROMISE; a brand is a mark of TRUST; a brand must be NURTURED.

— Michael Schwab, Director, NGK Spark Plugs USA, Inc.

* Click here to read “A Missed Opportunity.”

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