By Ed Salamy, Executive Director
“We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender…” – Sir Winston Churchill
These bold words inspired the people of Great Britain in their darkest days during World War II. These words also represent the attitude that the aftermarket parts industry must take in our fight against the powerful automakers, who seem determined to eliminate all competition.
The ABPA and Quality Parts Coalition (QPC) are fighting the battle on two fronts. The front lines of this fight are being fought right now in a courtroom in Michigan, and on Capitol Hill in Washington, with additional skirmishes in the halls of state legislatures across the country.
It may seem as if the litigation against Ford has dragged on for a long time. Our initial lawsuit was filed in November, 2013. The ABPA’s lawsuit against Ford is a critical “test case.” If Ford is allowed to slap a design patent on every fender, hood, light assembly, nut and bolt on its F-150 truck, there is nothing stopping them – and other automakers – from doing the same with every vehicle they produce. Ford must be stopped.
In Washington, the PARTS Act is slowly making its way through Congress, perhaps with its best chance in years of being passed, thanks to powerful sponsors and widespread support. While passage of the PARTS Act will provide a shield against the protectionist actions of Ford and other automakers, legislation is never “final.” A new bill could be introduced to overturn the PARTS Act in the future.
What’s at stake? Bob Frayer of NSF International, speaking at the ABPA annual meeting in April, estimated U.S. collision repair industry revenue to be $32 billion in 2015, with 47% of that total being parts, representing over $15 billion in sales. Bob also estimated that more than 20% of parts used in collision repairs are aftermarket parts, making aftermarket a $3 billion-plus industry.
It is vital for the future of our industry that we continue to “fight in the fields and in the streets” against the aggressive OEM moves aimed at destroying competition from aftermarket parts. But fighting a war takes time and money.
If you are one of the many industry leaders concerned about your company’s future who have donated generously to our legal fund, thank you. We are counting on you to continue to support our efforts.
If you have stayed out of the fray and left it to others to fund this important fight, the time has come for you to step up and do your share. A financial donation to our legal fund or the QPC will help us continue to fight for YOUR right to do business. Contact me today to find out how you can help.
If aftermarket manufacturers are prevented by patent laws from producing alternate parts for 30 years, we may all be reduced from a growing $3 billion industry to supplying parts for antique cars. The aftermarket parts industry is in a fight for its life, and, like the British people, we shall never surrender.