Update on the Advance Enterprise
In 2013, Advance Auto Parts purchased General Parts International Inc. (GPI), a move that aligned the CARQUEST and WORLDPAC brands with Advance and created a powerhouse in the auto parts world. Since then, Advance says it has worked on integrating the brands to create the best possible experience for its professional customers.
Bob Cushing, executive vice president of Advance’s professional segment, recently announced that the integration was complete and that 2017 is the first in a five-year strategy to refocus the organization on caring for customers. Cushing shared with Ratchet+Wrench what the auto industry can expect to see from the enterprise in the future and how the acquisition has created a stronger offering for its customers.
How has the CARQUEST/WORLDPAC integration process gone?
On the Advance/CARQUEST side, the integration is behind us now and it’s all about building out the capabilities and leveraging both brands. We’re focused on moving forward on the technology and catalog side. The new and enhanced catalog is being rolled out as we speak, so that’s one part of it.
On the WORLDPAC side, there isn’t the level of integration that we had between Advance and CARQUEST. WORLDPAC is a wholly owned subsidiary of the organization. We are leveraging the resources of WORLDPAC to develop programs, technology, and innovation in the Advance world. That integration is looking at what technology has worked in the past, taking that experience and applying it to the entire enterprise. With WORLDPAC, we don’t have to deal with the same issues that we did on the CARQUEST side, like establishing a footprint. I think for the most part, this is an opportunity to collaborate with all of the business units and do everything we can to dramatically advance the professional customer’s experience.
Since integration is now complete, what are Advance’s goals moving forward?
What’s critically important to us is that we’re continually innovating, driving more and more capabilities to our customers and building out our portfolio of products, our delivery capability and providing our customer everything that is necessary for them to be successful and grow their business. If we get our customers to grow their business, we grow with them.
This is a three-way partnership. It’s our supplier and vendor community, ourselves, and our customers. We want to make sure we’re building more and more of a platform to leverage that strategic partnership. That’s critically important.
It’s also critically important for all of us to remember that this is a journey. This is a matter of us constantly becoming better and better. We talk a lot about the phrase, “The right part at the right time”—we trademarked that. Why? Because it’s what our customers value most. We want to make sure we do more of that and that we do it better. We get the parts close to them, and deliver it to them faster so they can actively compete against anybody in the marketplace. We want to make sure they’re equipped to work on the world’s most advanced vehicles. We need to prepare our customers to work on the technology that we’re seeing being developed today and five, 10 years from now.
What are some of the ways that you’ll be providing this to your customers?
We’re building out a new catalog called APEX that will provide all of the rich content that’s available across the board through WORLDPAC, Advance Auto and CARQUEST. It’s in the field as we speak. The catalog is the key to product availability. Through it, customers will get an industry leading, accurate catalog. The catalog is OE and aftermarket based and it has the richest amount of content in respect to product definition and attributes, which will allow customers to pick the right item for the application. The extensive brand assortment will give them flexibility with their customers and allow them to get the product that they want installed. Of course, to us on the professional side, it’s a matter of providing the highest quality assortment to the industry.
How are the training resources being offered to Advance professional customers?
Having two of the industry-leading training institutes allows us to offer our professional customers the opportunity to attend and be a part of any training offered in North America.
When you look at our collective institutes, we have roughly 80 instructors across the enterprise. They have a diverse range of knowledge, capability and experience. We have master techs in every single car line and we have master techs in every single platform. We have all the resources out there and we’re looking to bundle them together for the professional customer. What’s one of the biggest challenges facing shop owners? The technician shortage. Our objective is to make sure that we can provide training that is necessary for the technicians of today to give them the knowledge and expertise to work on these new, sophisticated platforms that are being released by the car manufacturer.