At the beginning of 2017, Ford announced the launch of Omnicraft—replacement parts for all makes of non-Ford vehicles. The addition of Omnicraft marks the first brand that the Ford customer service division (FSCD) has added in over 50 years, says Frederiek Toney, president of global FCSD. Toney is no stranger to the world of parts. His background includes 16 years at Caterpillar and seven years with Honda in the parts segment. He’s been with Ford for 17 years, with the last eight years in his current role.
Toney says that the Omnicraft move is a part of Ford’s strategy to remain competitive and grow the business. Originally, the parts were only in dealerships but are now available in independent stores.
Why did Ford decide now was the time to launch Omnicraft?
We’ve been looking at it for a long time. This isn’t a brand new idea; there are others that have done it for a long time. We just chose not to invade that space until now. It took us about a year of planning before we were really able to kick it off and we’ve been discussing the idea for a couple of years. As the industry intensifies, one thing that became clear was that if we want to continue to grow the Ford business, we need to have the potential of becoming a one-stop shop for dealers and independents. By adding this brand, we’re expanding our portfolio so we can meet our customer's needs. Many times, independent shops won’t even consider ordering parts from you if you can’t offer one-stop shopping. This also adds an additional revenue stream. We want customers to take another look at Ford. Whether it’s our Motorcraft line or our Omnicraft, we want customers to see us as more competitive in the parts arena and find that it’s easy for one-stop shopping.
AutoNation also recently announced that it will sell its own line of aftermarket parts. Do you see this as an evolving trend?
I would say yes. I don’t have a comment on AutoNation—they have their own strategy—but the reality is that you can’t run from competition and this space is very lucrative. I believe you’ll see others want to invade the space.
What are your five-year goals for the brand?
We want to integrate this into a normal part of our business. We’d like for this not to be unique and just become another offering from Ford. Eventually, we’d like to see 15–20 percent of our parts revenue be derived from Omnicraft.
There are a lot of different parts classifications out there. How would you classify Omnicraft?
I would call Omnicraft aftermarket spec, which is A-class level aftermarket. What that means is that these are on the upper end of the quality spectrum. Our parts need to meet CAPA certification and the suppliers that will be making these parts will be the same suppliers that we use on the production side. We will match the quality of any of the competitors out there.
There’s a lot of debate in the industry regarding OEM versus aftermarket parts. What are the advantages of purchasing Omnicraft?
We are not claiming to be the OE replacement. The fact is, 75–80 percent of parts that are applied to a vehicle are aftermarket. OEM commands somewhere between 20–25 percent. With Omnicraft, we’re targeting vehicles that are four years old or older. There’s a need for this. Our goal is twofold: We want to retain customers longer in the Ford dealerships and we want to offer our dealerships a more competitive edge.
Omnicraft is aimed at non-Ford vehicles, so in a way it’s competing with other OEM parts. Are Ford OEM parts dealing with this type of competition?
ACDelco is the GM parts brand for non-GM vehicles, so it’s an example of that. Frankly, the aftermarket, whether it’s Bosch or NAPA, has their own brands of parts. They are all our competitors—anyone that sells a product.
What makes it OK for Ford to offer aftermarket parts to non-Ford vehicles when it recommends OEM parts for its own vehicles?
Knowing that the “sweet spot” for parts is on vehicles 5–12 years of age and that that customer is different than your typical OE customer, we are focused on providing high quality parts in our Omnicraft offering and believe that this will appeal to our target customer.
Speaking of target customer, do you see Omnicraft being more for the professional installer or the retail customer?
Both. For Ford and Lincoln dealerships, the parts can be used in the retail drive and quick lanes. For wholesale, Omnicraft parts position the dealer or distributor as a one-stop parts provider for the professional installer.
What is the warranty like on Omnicraft?
The warranty provided on Omnicraft parts vary by product line. The Omnicraft warranty carries a two-year, up to $150 labor reimbursement with no commercial exclusions. The warranty can easily be processed at any Ford or Lincoln dealership.
Do you believe that OEMs have a competitive advantage when it comes to manufacturing parts?
I think for our own brand, absolutely. We engineer the parts and have trained technicians to install them. However, it’s important to admit that there are others out there that are good at something. It’s naive to think that you’re the best at something. If you think like this, you won’t be able to compete.
So far, what has the reception been like for Omnicraft?
The dealers really get it. A lot of them are probably thinking, “What took you so long?” When it comes to independent repair shops, sometimes we’re the only place where they can get a part. By offering Omnicraft, we now give them an option to order everything that they need from us.