WASHINGTONThe auto care industry is a strong, consistent contributor to the U.S. economy, and the next few years look brighter than ever for the auto aftermarket, according to speakers at the Auto Care Association's inaugural State of the Auto Care Industry Forum, April 29, in Washington.
Growth in the auto care industry consistently averages 3 percent per year, according to Behzad Ressuli, ACA vice president for market intelligence, citing data from the association's first-ever State of the Auto Care Industry Report.
The industry is bigger than mining or educational services, he said, comprising more than 500,000 individual companies across the U.S., employing 4.2 million and generating sales of $328 billion annually.
Seen another way, the industry serves the nation's 212 million licensed drivers through nearly 268,000 auto care retail outlets, Mr. Ressuli said, saving the motoring public an estimated $26 billion annually, or $342 per family, in repair costs vs. new car dealers.
Furthermore, auto care workers average $55,700 a year in salaries, and the auto aftermarket contributes $80.6 billion to state and local revenues and $59.4 billion to federal revenues, Mr. Ressuli said at the forum.
The forum also celebrated the first anniversary of the association's name change to the ACA from the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association, said ACA President and CEO Kathleen Schmatz in her opening speech.
It was a change the association should have made years ago, she said.
The auto aftermarket is a difficult thing to explain, and that explanation isn't always received positively, she said.
We didn't want any obstacles getting in the way of industry outsiders understanding our industry's role, she said. The new name and the new study have removed a lot of obstacles for us.
The biggest indicator of the auto aftermarket's economic strength is in its attractiveness to investors, according to Mr. Ressuli.
Investment in the auto care industry is at an all-time high, he said. Market capitalization in the industry has nearly tripled in five years, to $160 billion this year from $58 billion, according to Mr. Ressuli.
Mergers and acquisitions have also tripled, to 483 in 2011-2014 from 163 in 2007-2011, he said.
The auto care industry is not a high flyer, but it doesn't bust and its people stay employed, he said.
Through hard times, auto care employees keep their jobs and contribute to the economy.
Other featured speakers at the forum included Marcus Jadotte, assistant secretary of commerce for industry and analysis.
Mr. Jadotte, who works within the Commerce Department's International Trade Administration (ITA), said his agency is dedicated to increasing export business for the auto care industry and other U.S. manufacturing sectors.
Two years ago, when (Commerce Secretary) Penny Pritzker was sworn in, she put a sign on her door'Open for Business,' he said. That sign is still there.
Today, U.S. exports support roughly 11.7 million jobs in the U.S., and the auto aftermarket alone accounted for $81 billion worth of exports last year, according to Mr. Jadotte.
We are working on strengthening the global competitiveness of U.S. industry and enforcing fair trade, he said.
The ITA has staff in 75 countries and Export Assistance Centers in 108 U.S. cities, Mr. Jadotte said. All of these offices are ready to help auto aftermarket companies and other potential U.S. exporters find overseas markets, he said.
The agency also works with the Federal Bureau of Investigation to protect intellectual property rights; hosts trade events to present market opportunities and efficient export strategies to U.S. companies; and identifies export market and market trends, including its annual list of the Top 30 markets for auto parts, Mr. Jadotte added.