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The State of the Aftermarket: Washington-based woes
This is the second of a multi-part series that looks at the state of the heavy-duty aftermarket that will publish throughout the month of January. The first article, which looks at moving the aftermarket forward in 2014, can be found here.
Four years removed from a recession that devastated the United States’ economy, the aftermarket has rebounded to business levels seen during peak years in 2006 and 2007.
While recovery hasn’t been swift, it has been somewhat steady.
There was doubt in the marketplace as 2012 came to a close, and an economic stumble down the stretch – coupled with a cloud of political uncertainty in Washington D.C. – seemed to envelop the industry in late 2012.
“If you remember what was going on in Washington, I think there was a lot of concern about what was going to come out of it all,” Steve Crowley, president and CEO at VIPAR Heavy Duty says. Citing the budget, fiscal cliff and debt ceiling crises Crowley says the aftermarket was weakened by factors beyond its control.
“We didn’t know where the economy was going, how the elections were going to impact everything and how much change to expect in 2013,” adds Don Reimondo, president and CEO at HDA Truck Pride. “There was a lot of speculation and that led to a conservative [spending] movement.”
Washington’s non-economic decisions also caused anxiety.
The Affordable Care Act, more commonly called Obamacare, took a major step toward implementation when President Obama was re-elected in November 2012. With major policies set to go into effect in 2014 and 2015, businesses nationwide were forced to evaluate the financial impact new healthcare laws would put on their operations.
“The truck parts industry is really controlled by small businesses, and [the Affordable Care Act] has been toughest on small businesses,” says Kevin Cyphers, vice president at Cyphers Truck Parts.