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What Will Winter 2019 – 2020 Bring?

Winter 2019 2020 v2 Photo by Val Vesa on Unsplash

If you read the recent “Farmers’ Almanac’s Extended Forecast 2020” article on the outlook for the coming Winter in North America you’d have seen that it’s predicted to be what the self-proclaimed provider of “perception, experience, and common sense” is calling a “Polar Coaster”. Their forecast for this Winter anticipates that we will experience bitter cold from the Rockies to the Appalachians. A forecast likes this tends to be great news for the retail automotive aftermarket as weather extremes are a key driver whether you’re in the Emergency Roadside Service (ERS) industry or the auto glass repair and replacement (AGRR) industry.

For 201 years the Farmers’ Almanac has been providing seasonal weather predictions and this Winter the worst areas for cold and snow include the Northern Plains, Great Lakes Region all the way to the Northeast. The prediction indicates that the worst weather could take place from late January through early February.

Winter weather often brings feast or famine to the automotive aftermarket depending on whether it’s a colder or warmer season. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a manufacturer of products used by the automotive industry’s that operate in the aftermarket, a company distributing replacement parts into markets across North America or a retailer providing services to the end user, the spikes in opportunities that cold weather extremes bring includes probable logistical and supply issues. Potential issues that extreme cold, ice and snow brings can include keeping plants open and fulfilling increased parts orders, keeping delivery vehicles on the road getting those products to the retailers who also have to deal with scheduling repairs that come along with the increased opportunities.

With the current historically low unemployment rates that we’re seeing across North America an extreme Winter also will bring additional stress due to difficulties finding those qualified to manufacture, distribute and provide repairs that consumers and businesses alike will require. Currently there are numerous examples of difficulty finding and keeping qualified technicians in both the AGRR and ERS industry’s. In the AGRR industry a glass repair or replacement can often be deferred for some period of time, but weather extremes effect on automotive batteries will drive volume spikes in jump starts and replacement opportunities putting strains on companies that provide services in the ERS space.

So if the Farmers’ Almanac prediction turns out to be accurate for Winter 2019 – 2020, has your company planned and prepared its best so that you can take care of your customers parts and service needs? Those who have done the best job planning before any extreme cold, ice and snow appears will be the ones able to capitalize on the opportunities that are available.

Just sayin’.

 

* Photo by Vel Vesa on Unsplash

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The New Normal

Today the competitive landscape in the auto glass repair and replacement (AGRR) industry in the United States was dramatically altered. We saw this morning an announcement that Safelite, the largest company in the space, purchased the second largest company. As the clear market leader Safelite was perhaps 14+ times or so larger than TruRoad Holdings. By acquiring the companies that make up TruRoad and bringing them into the Safelite platform the gulf between Safelite and the possible number two AGRR company Glass America is even more gigantic.

You’d have to believe that auto insurers, fleets and even consumers would have a strong interest in ensuring that competition continues to exist for AGRR services. Insurers and fleets especially would have interest in seeing a strong national competitor emerge to keep pricing and service levels in check considering the market share Safelite controls. The prospect of building a true competitor and all that would be required to compete against Safelite in the marketplace would be an incredibly daunting task and in my opinion is highly unlikely considering the new competitive landscape in the AGRR space with Safelite acquiring TruRoad.

Baseball player and coach Yogi Berra was once quoted as saying when asked about the chances of the New York Yankees winning a pennant race one year, “It ain’t over til it’s over.” I’m sorry to say that competition in the AGRR space might be over. Welcome to the new normal.

Just sayin’

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Telling It Like It Is

After a 29-year career, Johnny Miller retired this past Saturday from his job as a golf analyst for NBC Sports and the Golf Channel. Before he took the role as an analyst sitting in broadcast booths located on the 18th greens of golf tournaments, Johnny spent 28 years as a PGA golf pro. As a golf analyst, he was known for his blunt commentary of the play of professional golfers whom he critiqued. Johnny’s style was to never hold back on his opinions while offering positive or negative comments of a pros play. There were a number of pros who often didn’t appreciate Johnny’s comments on their play, but the television audience appreciated the honesty and teaching moments he provided to amateur golfers with his golf analysis. During Johnny’s career he covered 355 golf tournaments in 33 states and 14 countries around the world. Among those tournaments were 29 Players Championships, 20 U.S. Opens, 14 Ryder Cups, 9 Presidents Cups, 3 Opens (British Opens) and 1 World Olympic (Rio). I trust that Johnny will enjoy his retirement and hope that there is someone willing to step into his big shoes and continues telling it like it is.

In business, leaders should surround themselves with people like Johnny Miller who are unafraid to provide:

  1. advice or critique of a potential strategy or tactic under consideration,
  2. views on key promotions or new hires to supplement leadership teams,
  3. opinions on the value of new products or suppliers and
  4. views on potential acquisitions or divestitures being considered, just to name a few.

Those willing to be vocal and share their opinions even when they may not be appreciated are, in my view, one of the most important traits of your most valuable employees. Leaders should be able to surround themselves with those who are unafraid of telling it like it is. By the way, just because they share their views doesn’t mean that their ideas are correct and as a leader you have to follow them, but I would suggest you should still listen.

I’ve greatly valued, even more importantly highly respected, those that I worked with who readily offered their views of a strategy I wanted to follow as either a good, bad or how it could be improved upon. I would suggest that leaders recruit those willing to be like Johnny. So I’d like to say to those like Johnny in my career like Ernie, Charlie, Byron, Mark, John M., David (RIP), Larry, Kevin, Alan, Rick, Ronnie (RIP), Adrian, Louis, Sandy, Nate, Chuck, Jeff, Heather, Terry, Chris, Steve M., Bre, Darshan, Rodney, Warren, Rachel, Ros, Brendan, Robert and Steve K., thank you each very much. (There’s many, many more I could thank.)

Over the years many pros who initially were angered hearing Johnny’ negative televised critiques of their play later grew to appreciate and value his unvarnished reviews. To those whom I worked for who took my suggestions or comments poorly over the years I offer my apologies. But I hope you’ve grown to appreciate those telling it like it is that may surround you today. Leaders incapable of allowing direct reports who work for them that are willing to provide unvarnished advice or critique of critical decisions that are being considered aren’t, in my opinion, going to get the best from them. You might also be at risk losing them to a leader that actively seeks those willing to offer their views.

Just sayin’.

Johnny Miller

Silverado Country Club, Napa Valley, California

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