Automotive designs have changed dramatically over the past 30 years. From the boxy cars of the ’80s to the new 2016 releases over the past few months, the appearance and performance of our cars is something many car owners take pride in. What has also changed – maybe at an even a faster pace – is the automotive aftermarket industry.

From performance upgrades, to cosmetics, to DIY customization, the growth and variety of this industry has created the ability for more and more enthusiasts to truly personalize their car. Here are just a few of the current trends and new popular products available for aftermarket vehicle customization:

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Piedmont Peterbilt has become a trusted name over the past 24 years in the Greensboro, N.C., area for its quality service and maintenance of heavy-duty trucks. “Everyone knows us in the area because we have been here a long time and built our reputation on trust,” President and CEO Jerry Stafford says. “They want good service and the truth. When people come in we first tell them the truth and do the job right and the second thing is we hopefully make a profit. That’s our philosophy.” 

The Stafford family got its start in the industry in the 1960s as a Ford dealer before it decided to apply for a Peterbilt franchise in 1990. It was awarded the franchise a year later and opened a four-bay garage with six employees. Three years later, Piedmont Peterbilt moved into the larger facility it still operates out of today with a total of 18 employees. The shop is in a prime location off of I-40 with exits from the east and west that lead right to it. 

Read more: Piedmont Peterbilt

Specializing in providing top quality Kenworth trucks, parts and service to clients throughout the Midwest, Palmer Trucks is a privately owned company focused on offerings service and solutions to the transportation industry. The company’s solutions include new and used Kenworth Trucks, diesel, service, parts, financing, leasing, rental, vocational trucks, vocational parts, truck equipment and compressed natural gas (CNG) systems. 

“The company is now celebrating 50 years of business, and that didn’t happen by accident,” CEO John Nichols says. Palmer Trucks is a family business beginning with Eldon Palmer in 1965. John Nichols is also joined at the company by the third generation, Jacob and Scott Nichols. 

“We believe in customer service, doing the right things at the right times, and employing solid people to help our customers. This has been our business and hope to continue for the next 50 years,” he says. 

Read more: Palmer Trucks

The leading full-line undercar and underhood auto parts warehouse in southern Michigan, Motown Automotive Distributing Co. has more than 50 years of experience in the automotive marketplace. The company uses that experience to better service its customers. 

“We were one of the first companies in our area to go to the two-step distribution model in the 1980s, and that was when we decided that we would give full service to the installer,” owner Jim Sechrist says. “We have very good inventory control and make sure that the installer gets close control of their inventory.” 

Read more: Motown Automotive Distributing Co.

Jim Ramsey knew something was amiss with Lamb’s Tire and Automotive’s business model after his first three months on the job as the company’s president and CEO. “When I came in, the company was a disaster – it was losing a lot of money and had been for a while,” he says. “The entire structure of the business and business model was wrong.”

Ramsey, a former fixed operations director for a large car dealership group in Oklahoma, joined the company in September 2012 after Lamb’s Tire equity owners Main Street Capital approached him about the position. Ramsey, who had worked in the Austin, Texas, market prior to taking the job in Oklahoma, was familiar with the brand, which opened the doors of its first location in Austin in 1987. 

Read more: Lamb’s Tire and Automotive

Once a new car is driven off the lot by its owner, it loses a substantial amount of resale value. But if that same person leases the vehicle, he or she does not have to absorb that loss.

This is just one of the advantages of leasing rather than purchasing automobiles available to customers of Holand Automotive Group. “The advantage to leasing is you do not have to lay out the capital,” President, CEO and co-owner Gad Bitton points out. “It is off the balance sheet. Leasing companies generally have a much better turnaround time and ability to deliver a car than manufacturers or a captive finance company.” Leasing also can be advantageous from a tax perspective and can result in lower insurance premiums.

Read more: Holand Automotive Group

Treat people well and they’ll come back – that is the key to Brandi Companies success. “I’m a firm believer that if you treat a person like you want to be treated you will have success,” President Bob Brandi says.

The company operates 32 Pitt Stop gas stations within a 20-mile radius of Columbia, S.C. The company also has 19 locations with Burger King franchises, five with Subways and five Blimpies. Its locations distribute Shell, Sunoco and ExxonMobil petroleum. 

Read more: Brandi Companies

Delivering vehicles worldwide requires care and innovation, because no customer wants a brand-new car damaged. That’s why family owned The Pasha Group specializes in safe, on-time handling and transport of new and used vehicles at competitive prices with services that evolve as the needs of the industry change. 

“The capacity issue in ports, rail and truck is going to continue to be everybody’s challenge for the next couple of years,” warns Stan Gabara, executive vice president of business development and logistics for The Pasha Group. During the recession, available capacity was diverted to other products. “Now as the economy is coming back, there’s a paradigm shift – a lot of new automobiles are being manufactured in the U.S. and Mexico,” Gabara points out.

Read more: The Pasha Group

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