Tire dealers aren't the only ones happy when the white stuff falls in gobs from the skies. Lots of snow can translate into a blizzard of automotive replacement-parts sales-for not only batteries, windshield wipers, alternators and such, but for big-ticket parts damaged in slip-sliding accidents, such as fenders, hoods, windshields etc.
It's a $170 billion-a-year business. And that heats up the competition between the original equipment parts manufacturers-like Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Corp.-and numerous auto-parts makers that deal in knock-off, cheaper versions of the OEM's products.
Recapping the ``Blizzard of '96'' that dumped more than two feet of snow on the East Coast last January, an article in the Wall Street Journal said the head of GM's giant replacement-parts operation, William Lovejoy, saw ``green'' in all that dense white snow. He recalled 1994, the last time a really bad winter hit, when parts sales jumped up exponentially, and orders for windshield-wiper arms alone grew more than tenfold.
In preparation for the possible wintery blasts to come, Mr. Lovejoy said he asked his staff to study the Farmer's Almanac for clues, according to the Journal article.
An automotive industry analyst for Salomon Brothers who has recommended the stocks of some replacement parts makers said cold temperatures help the battery business, while the precipitation, potholes and salt ``are real tough on the suspension and chassis.''
Lest anyone think parts makers revel in the winter-related misfortunes of motorists, they're probably right.
George Gilbert, crash-parts product manager for Ford's Customer Service Division, admitted to the Journal: ``It's almost sad, isn't it. I look at the weather now and say, `Geez, it's going to be great crash-parts sales.'''