Bankruptcy loses its negative connotation - - Spectroscopy
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Bankruptcy loses its negative connotation

Aftermarket Business World

Bob moore
Opening any of our industry's newsletters may lead you to the assumption that the aftermarket has entered a new chapter; specifically, Chapter 11. Just this week, I was reading about two new companies that had joined the Chapter 11 club. And that was just what was on the front page.

The sheer volume of bankruptcies of late is stunning and begs the question, "How did we get to this?" The spate of filings is a reckoning of many issues, not the least of which is uninspired and shortsighted management. Consider these: In the late 1970s a high-profile CEO proclaimed, "We will never recognize program groups." In the 1990s another renowned leader stated steadfastly, "We will not allow our national brands to be sold by retailers." And earlier this decade a highly respected CEO publicly stated, "You will never see our parts for sale on the Internet."

Such shining examples of "inside the box" thinking may serve as an omen of companies that will seek Chapter 11 protection. But I want to be careful not to paint all reorganizations with the same brush. There is not a single causal factor, and not all Chapter 11 filings are the fault of sitting management. Contributing factors can include sudden loss of business, legacy costs, fallout from venture capitalists gutting companies, the strategy of squeeze (squeezing aggressive concessions from suppliers) and many others.

Regardless of which of these factors or others have contributed to mounting Chapter 11 filings, the fact remains that living with companies so encumbered is a new reality. The "stigma" once attached to being "bankrupt" has changed. There was a time when a supplier or reseller in bankruptcy was about as attractive as a Pontiac Aztek. But as the realities of the new financial environment are changing the landscape, that stigma has been mitigated. Think about these two things: 1) Companies as diverse and prestigious as Delphi, Federal Mogul, Dayco, Holley, Dana, Proliance and Remy have been through or are currently going through a financial reorganization. In each case, they emerged or will emerge stronger than before; and 2) The aftermarket needs multiple, viable suppliers in every category to maintain the healthy competition so vital to our free-market economy.

As businesspeople, we must have a renewed focus on financials. Whether considering a new supplier or channel partner, an acquisition, a joint venture or any other type of close relationship, we must perform meticulous due diligence. There was an old sharecropper saying that went something like this: "Before you go in double yoke, look to the other horse." When an otherwise good trading partner files for Chapter 11 reorganization...don't panic. Chances are you'll have a stronger ally after the procedure.

Bob Moore is president of Bob Moore & Partners, a consulting firm that specializes in the automotive aftermarket. Moore, a SEMA board member, can be reached at

President, Bob Moore & Partners

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Source: Aftermarket Business World,
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