Connect with us

Opinion

R. L. Polk & Co.’s Ask the Industry Talks to Shop Owners About Counterfeiting

For several years now, the automotive aftermarket, as an industry, has made great strides to increase awareness of the issues of counterfeiting and intellectual property rights violations. With these efforts, we’ve come to learn of the startling problems taking place. While efforts are being made to stop trademark violations at the manufacturer level and to keep imported knockoff auto parts from entering the country, if a counterfeit part were to make it into the distribution chain, would shops know what to look for? For this week’s Ask the Industry, we talked to two shop owners to learn more about their knowledge and experiences with counterfeit auto parts.

Advertisement

AKRON, OHIO — For several years now, the automotive aftermarket, as an industry, has made great strides to increase awareness of the issues of counterfeiting and intellectual property rights violations. With these efforts, we’ve come to learn of the startling problems taking place.

Click Here to Read More
Advertisement

As it stands now, counterfeiting in the automotive industry is a big issue. We’ve all heard the stats — counterfeiting costs the global auto parts industry about $12 billion a year. It costs the U.S. auto parts industry $3 billion a year. At the manufacturer level real progress has been made, from the seizure of counterfeit auto parts at U.S. borders to catching knockoffs at the trade shows. Successful anti-counterfeiting programs have been established at a number of major manufacturing companies, and a promising partnership between the U.S. government and the Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association has taken the fight to a whole new level.

Advertisement

While efforts are being made to stop trademark violations at the manufacturer level and to keep imported knockoff auto parts from entering the country, if a counterfeit part were to make it into the distribution chain, would shops know what to look for? For this week’s Ask the Industry, we talked to two shop owners to learn more about their knowledge and experiences with counterfeit auto parts.

Steve Clegg, owner, Clegg Auto Service, Spanish Fork, Utah:

Have you ever come across a counterfeit product in your shop?

Thankfully, to my knowledge we’ve never had an issue with counterfeiting.

Do you feel you would know what to look for if you suspected you had a counterfeit part on your hands?

Advertisement

I don’t know that I would. That is an issue for me. I’d like to see more guidelines as to what to look for.

One of the reasons I believe we don’t have an issue with counterfeiting is because I only buy from trusted sources. For example, my ACDelco wholesaler is the only place I buy ACDelco parts. If a wagon peddler comes to my shop and tries to sell me 50 sets of brake pads for $5 a set I’m not even going to give him the time of day. The same thing goes for people who call me. I don’t buy anything over the phone. If they want to send a salesman in to visit me, I will talk to them, but I only buy from trusted sources — NAPA, CARQUEST, ACDelco, etc.

Advertisement

Are you a member of any associations or groups that provide information on counterfeiting?

Probably, but I haven’t looked into it. There probably is a fair amount of information out there on what to look for but it hasn’t been an issue for me so I haven’t even researched it.

Clegg Auto Service has two locations and has been in business for more than six years. Steve Clegg has been working in the automotive service and repair industry for 16 years.

Mike Koebke, owner, Gus Mann Automotive, San Antonio, Texas:

Have you ever come across a counterfeit product in your shop?

Never have. I’ve heard about the severity of the problem for this industry, but I’ve never come across anything like that.

Do you feel that if you came across a suspected counterfeit product you would know what to look for?

I probably would. I think more than likely the reason I haven’t run across a counterfeit product previously is due to the types of suppliers I chose to use. We deal only with reputable suppliers.

Advertisement

Gus Mann Automotive has been in business since 1962. Koebke has been owner of the shop for 14 years and has worked there for 27.

Summary by Amy Antenora, managing editor, aftermarketNews.com:

For all of the efforts aftermarket associations and manufacturers have made to educate the industry and the government about the issue of auto parts counterfeiting, there is still plenty of work to be done. The industry must also work to educate the technicians and shop owners on what to look for, how to respond and what the ramifications are when it comes to buying or installing a counterfeit auto part.

Advertisement

As both men we spoke with suggested, dealing with reputable suppliers — companies and brands you know and trust — seems to be a great method for avoiding counterfeit or even just lesser-quality products. The innate common sense that comes with owning a business helps too. Trust and gut instincts seem to go a long way in keeping the wolves at bay. However, Steve Clegg’s admission that he’s never looked into the issue of counterfeiting because it has never happened to him, brings up an important question: Should shop owners and technicians be more proactive when it comes to anti-counterfeiting efforts?

Advertisement

While luckily neither of the two shop owners we spoke with had encountered a counterfeit product in their shops, they are only two of some 150,000 shops across the U.S. For sure, some others have not been so lucky. Would education on counterfeiting have prevented a problem for others? As with any issue, people tend to overlook a problem until it affects them. Unfortunately, this is one situation that if not prevented could be not only costly, but deadly. While the automotive aftermarket works hard to improve its image, the fight against counterfeiting will become a crucial element in that campaign.

Advertisement

_______________________________________

Click here to view the rest of today’s headlines.

Advertisement

POPULAR POSTS

Connect
aftermarketNews