In the July issue of AMN magazine, our cover story featured mid-year distribution group updates from leaders of the aftermarket’s top program groups. This week on AMN we will share one of the featured leaders’ interviews. Today we sit down with Larry Pavey, CEO of The Group.
Has the coronavirus pandemic inspired your organization to make any permanent changes to the way you do business?
I think we have all made changes that will be maintained long-term and our teams really stepped up with tools that help with ordering online, in-store pick-up, touchless delivery, working from home and many other changes in how we do business. We are seeing different needs from our professional customers and our virtual online training platform (The Group Training Academy) provided major value to members, shop owners and repair professionals. We continue to share information and experiences with each other to find more ways to improve our processes and we expect some permanent changes to be made on an ongoing basis.
As the economy re-opens, how quickly do you think we’ll bounce back to where we were prior to COVID-19?
We have seen rapid improvement in sales after bottoming out in mid-April. After months of quarantine in some states, there is pent-up demand for auto maintenance and repair that should provide a pretty quick “bounce back” for our industry. After that
I think it would have been great if our focus could have remained on the health crisis and had not become political in nature. I am sure it will have a major impact on elections this fall and that seems to just be a reflection of the times we live in.
What’s on your organization’s agenda for the second half of the year?
Our focus continues to be identifying areas where we can improve and enhance programs wherever we can. This means in our quality, service, communications, inventory selection, training, personnel and processes. One major focus will be in improving automation in many of our business intelligence tools, creating opportunities for our members and suppliers to work closer together.
Anything you’d like to add?
At a time like this it is really important to find common ground and work together. It was really gratifying to see so many sup- pliers step up with support for our members so quickly to help with inventory and cash flow needs. It was inspiring to see our members, who are smaller businesses, helping shop owners, technicians and employees maintain a focus on health, safety and financial challenges. It was also great to see the industry pull together and see the value of things we perhaps took for granted, like trade associations that have played an important role in communicating essential information and helpful assistance. Even the U.S. government put together a $3 trillion assistance package in about two weeks and while not perfect, was the difference between success and failure for many. It was very heartwarming to see so much caring about each other as people, businesses, families and communities during this unprecedented time.