For the January 2022 AMN/Counterman cover story, we spoke with a number of distribution, retail and association leaders who shared their outlooks and insights for the aftermarket in 2022. We ask them a few fun “lightning round” questions as well that you won’t want to miss.
In Part 5 of our Industry Insights series, we hear from Junior Word, president, Carquest North America.
What are some of the biggest trends that could have an impact on your business in 2022?
Our Carquest team and family of independent owners are prepared for some of last year’s biggest trends to carry into 2022. Those trends include supply chain demands, vehicle ownership and the sustained need for parts.
While supply chain challenges have been a major point of interest across our industry, our store partners have continued to go above and beyond in providing quality parts and service to their DIY and Professional customers. We also know that more people than ever are owning and operating vehicles. With the increase in both miles driven and average age of vehicles on the road, there’s going to be a continued need for parts to keep these older vehicles functioning at their best.
What are your thoughts about the business environment for the automotive aftermarket in 2022?
We are seeing increased demand for parts, and this is converging with the labor shortage across the aftermarket. Despite this, we’ve been laser-focused on supporting our store partners. Our primary objective is to position our owners to drive as much business as possible while doing our part to make their lives easier as small-business owners. Our support team is leveraging technology, specifically MyCQStore, to provide valuable analytics and sales data to our store partners to help grow their businesses and operate more efficiently.
Carquest’s core business is tied to professional repair shops, but we’re also working to develop growth opportunities to increase the DIY business for our store partners. We’ll continue to make additional investments in our team and the necessary resources to strengthen the Carquest brand, while reinforcing our support to store partners to ensure their longevity in the communities they serve.
What do you feel is the greatest opportunity in the automotive aftermarket right now?
Our industry is in a healthy place. I mentioned the number of vehicles on the road, the increased age of vehicles and miles driven. People feel comfortable in their cars. It’s an environment that feels safe and familiar.
With that said, our team is focused on what we can control. We’re doing everything in our power to help store partners provide the right part at the right time for their customers. We want to drive more traffic to our existing Carquest locations while expanding our footprint across the U.S. We’ll accomplish this by opening Carquest retail locations as well as Carquest by Advance stores, a new concept we recently announced at AAPEX. This store model targets the growing DIY customer channel, and as a brand, we’ll be providing independent owners with operational and merchandising support to further establish their local presence.
There is a lot for us to be excited about at Carquest. The bottom line is, we’re here to take care of our owners while they take care of the needs of their customers.
What phrase describes your “words to live by?”
Don’t ever forget where you came from.
What is your best icebreaker at a networking reception?
I honestly don’t have any “go-to” icebreakers, but I enjoy meeting new people and hearing about their backgrounds.
What is your dream car, or favorite vehicle you’ve owned?
My dream car is a Chevrolet Corvette Z06.