International Newsmaker Q&A Greg Potter

July 9, 2015
The Equipment and Tool Institute (ETI), an association of automotive tool and equipment manufacturers, technical information providers and training organizations, is moving its global headquarters from Illinois to Michigan to strengthen its ties to global automakers.

Serving an international industry membership roster in cooperation with worldwide automakers, the Equipment and Tool Institute (ETI), an association of automotive tool and equipment manufacturers, technical information providers and training organizations, is moving its global headquarters from Illinois to Michigan. A new office administrator, Jean Peltier, has been hired.

“As we finalize the transition of our corporate management, we will consolidate our operations in the Detroit area to help facilitate our growing business and to continue to support our members as we move into the next stages of the association,” says executive manager Greg Potter, who recently addressed a series of questions about the organization:

Q: What is ETI’s mission?

A: ETI’s mission is to advance the vehicle service industry by providing technical data and open dialogue between the manufacturers of transportation products, government regulators and the providers of tools, equipment and service information.

The institute is an association of automotive tool and equipment manufacturers and technical information providers. Working together closely and sharing information, they are committed to five key goals:

  1. To advance the productivity, profitability and growth of the automotive service industry by ensuring that the nation's service bays are the best equipped, and its technicians are the most highly trained and thoroughly informed in the world.
  2. To provide technical training information, as well as marketing guidance, to the end user; thus providing strength and guidance to the customer base.
  3. To stimulate feedback from the users to manufacturers, thus promoting product improvement.
  4. To provide members an ongoing stream of current information and advanced, specialized technological information, through planned, cooperative dialog with vehicle manufacturers.
  5. To provide industry leadership by cooperating with legislators – and regulatory agencies – in pursuit of variable environmental, safety and efficiency programs.

Over the past half century, ETI has become the forum to resolve common problems concerning equipment and tools for the entire automotive industry. Through its programs and services, the institute has made possible the sharing of information, the planning of better sales meetings, the promulgation of better sales training, the organizing of better shows, and meeting the changing needs of the automotive service market.

Today, The Equipment and Tool Institute is an energetic and growing not-for-profit trade association consisting of the leading tool and equipment manufacturers for the automotive industry and the major providers of service information and specialized computer hardware and software systems. The ETI membership roster includes the biggest and best-known names in the industry, as well as numerous small and medium sized companies.

Q: You recently announced that you are moving your headquarters to Farmington Hills, Mich.; what benefits are provided by being based in the Detroit area?

A: The new office will allow ETI to strengthen its ties to the automotive community in the Detroit area and to continue serving its members by working together and sharing information and remaining committed to its objective of advancing the vehicle service industry by providing technical data and open dialog between the manufacturers of transportation products, government regulators and the providers of tools, equipment and service information.

ETI’s new corporate headquarters will be the base of operations for all corporate and administrative functions.

Q: What are the qualifications for joining?

A: ETI dues are based on company size, and company size is based on the total dollar sales of automotive tools and equipment sold in North America. Any person, firm or corporation is eligible for full membership if it meets the following qualifications: Is engaged as a manufacturer, potential manufacturer or marketer of automotive service repair equipment tools, or information; Is financially sound; Has a reputation for integrity and sound character; Meets such other uniform requirements as may be established by the board of directors.

Q: How does ETI benefit parts manufacturers, distributors, retailers and repairers?

A: ETI is dedicated to the aftermarket service industry. Our domain is with the tool and equipment suppliers but the industry does not operate in a vacuum. All parts (no pun intended) of the aftermarket are linked together in the over $2-billion market sector. Aftermarket repairers, whether DIY or DIFM, need all aspects of the industry to operate; parts, training, information and tools.

ETI’s members are some of the best designers and suppliers of new productivity tools in the world. ETI members cover the bases of automotive and HD service. We have members in collision repair equipment, hand tools, scan tools and diagnostics, wheel and tire equipment, vehicle lifts, A/C and leak detection equipment, information and training providers, fleet telematics and inspection and maintenance suppliers to mention our core.

This group of manufacturers and suppliers are essential key players that enable the repair industry.

One of the key places ETI helps the aftermarket is in the collection and distribution of the diagnostic data and routines that the vehicle manufacturers use in their own diagnostic systems so that aftermarket tool suppliers can have the same capability for their customers. This “ScanTool” data is necessary for almost any repair nowadays on modern vehicles. Re-setting or reprogramming of control modules is routine for most all repairs not to mention the diagnostics used to find faults in the first place.

ETI works closely with many other aftermarket associations for the benefit of the industry. We communicate regularly with the Auto Care Association and AASA as well as ASA. We also work closely with our European partners FIGEFA, EGEA, ASA and AFCAR.

ETI was involved in helping to provide some expertise and work out a solution in the Massachusetts Right-to-Repair battle and subsequent Memorandum of Understanding signed by the Auto Alliance, Global Automakers, AAIA and CARE in 2014.

ETI also stays very active in all of the automotive standards organizations, e.g., SAE and ISO, to push for standards that help enable aftermarket repair capabilities.

Q: You’ve noted that aftermarket shops play a role in vehicle buyers’ purchasing decisions; what factors do people take into account?

A: A 2012 Maritz Research, Inc. New Vehicle Customer Study (NVCS), asked car buyers what sources of information they found most influential in their buying decisions. The top 10 sources in the U.S. were as follows:

  1. Salesperson at the dealership (21.9 percent)
  2. Family/ friend/ word of mouth (18.7 percent)
  3. Consumer guides (18.4 percent)
  4. Dealer’s/ manufacturer’s websites (8.6 percent)
  5. Third-party websites (6.4 percent)
  6. Automotive magazine reviews (6.1 percent)
  7. TV advertisements (4 percent)
  8. Dealer’s/ manufacturer’s brochures (3.2 percent)
  9. Dealer/Manufacturer-sponsored event (2.4 percent)
  10. Newspaper advertisements (1.7 percent)

It is surprising to me that word of mouth is such an important influence when it comes to consumer brand selection. It is almost as important as the dealership salesperson and more significant than magazine reviews, TV advertising, sales brochures, sponsored events and newspaper ads combined.

Imagine that. How much money is spent on advertising by car makers and their dealerships? Now imagine if even a small percentage of that money was invested in aftermarket support. It could go a long way toward increased brand promotion.

ETI’s study has uncovered a very important facet of “word of mouth” influence. I submit that a shop recommendation may be even more influential than word of mouth from family and friends.

It is no coincidence that the automakers that are recommended the most in this study are also the companies that tend to support ETI’s efforts to acquire tool and equipment information specific to developing aftermarket products. It is my hope that the automakers that are farther down the list will see the value. It could help them gain approval from a very influential source of word of mouth advertising.

Q: What are some of the industry programs that you offer?

A: ETI membership benefits, events, and services are tailored to meet the needs of all tool and equipment makers – whether manufacturers of highly technical diagnostic equipment or hand-tools, a large manufacturer or a small- to mid-sized business.

Vertical groups are the heart of the organization. ETI is more than just scan tools. We cover all aspects of automotive repair. Vertical groups to allow members to discuss common problems and to examine the most current and pertinent technical information in specific areas of interest, including:

  • Scan Tool Group (STG), which is involved in all aspects of scan tools and reprogramming tools. The Scan Tool Group has one subcommittee under it, the Telematics Subcommittee.
  • Mechanical Systems Group (MSG), which is involved in non-scan tool equipment issues. The Mechanical Systems Group has three subcommittees under it; the I/M Subcommittee is specifically involved in regulated I/M equipment issues; the Hybrid Vehicle Subcommittee; the Air Conditioning Subcommittee.
  • Collision Repair Group (CRG), which includes collision repair equipment including frame straightening, welding and painting equipment.
  • Shop Management and Information Software Group (SMG), which includes electronic repair manuals and electronic shop management software.

The institute maintains close working relationships with government agencies and other associations, such as the National Automotive Service Task Force (NASTF), the California Air Resources Board (CARB), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE). Through these relationships, ETI has been at the forefront in ensuring that OEM information regarding on-board diagnostics are available to tool and equipment manufacturers and third-party information providers.

ETI played a major role in negotiating portions of the EPA’s service information access rule released in 2003.

ETI provided comments to the CARB concerning their information access rulemaking that resulted in equipment companies and third-party information providers being added as “covered persons.”

ETI co-developed the “OBD I/M Testing Flowchart,” a recommended practices document that CARB endorsed in 2002. This document was updated in 2009.

ETI created the scan tool section of NASTF’s OE service information matrix in 2002, including updates every year since.

ETI’s TEK-NET Library is an invaluable, up-to-date repository of past, current and advanced vehicle specification information for members. The TEK-NET Library is information we request from all OEMs. The information is provided in all kinds of formats and data structure. ETI does not edit the material for any specific purpose.

ETI conducts market research projects to assist our members in bringing new and improved equipment and tools to the marketplace. ETI surveys approximately 25,000 automotive repair facilities in an effort to find out more about their familiarity with and use of tools, equipment, services and technology. ETI members use this research to provide aftermarket shops with tools, equipment and services. Previous studies include: J2534 Reprogramming, J2534 Update, TPMS, Telematics, Collision Repair, A/C Service, Hybrid and Battery Service, and Shop Information Access.

Our most recent Market Research Study on Brand Recommendation was completed in April 2015 and was developed as two surveys, one for aftermarket shops and one for consumers. They were designed to determine if consumers ask aftermarket shops for recommendations regarding the purchase of their next vehicle and what, if any, advice they are given.

We asked shop owners and technicians which vehicle brands are difficult to repair in the aftermarket. We asked them if they receive consumer requests regarding which brand of car to buy. We asked if their answer is based on repair difficulty. Finally, we asked what factors make a particular brand easier or more difficult to repair.

Consumers were asked where they get their cars repaired. If the answer was an independent shop, we asked them if they ever ask for a recommendation regarding what brand to buy the next time they are ready to purchase a vehicle. If the answer was yes, we asked whether or not the recommendation influenced their decision.

Automakers, especially the import brands, often ask ETI why providing scan tool data and other specialized information to tool and equipment makers is important. Certainly they understand what it means to aftermarket equipment companies, but what is in it for them?

Our response has always been that we believe that the quality and quantity of aftermarket tool support each auto maker provides indirectly affects new and used car sales volume because independent shops influence consumer brand choice. Furthermore, we believe that shop recommendations are based in large part on the quality and availability of aftermarket information and tools for a particular brand.

In the past when asked for evidence that this is the case, we answered using anecdotal references to some specific instances where buying decisions have been influenced, but we have not been able to provide any statistical data to back up our claims. That is until now.

The ETI Industry Update offers current news with our industry, delivers updates on ETI Events, and information on trends and general business topics.

There’s a wealth of information on our website, www.etools.org. Details on our events, membership, organization and industry are available, though some pages are for Members Only. Industry outreach on our website includes presentations from past events, and market research surveys available at reduced prices for members. You can also register for events and find updates and schedules.

Q: What are some of your upcoming industry events?

A: ETI puts on three conferences a year.

Summer Tech Week is held each June. Seventy ETI engineers and product managers meet with key individuals from GM, Ford, Chrysler, VW/Audi and other manufacturers to discuss new systems and the tools and equipment that will be needed to service them. Summer Tech Week (STW) was started as a joint venture between ETI and the automakers in the early 1980s.

Automakers recognized the need for a forum to communicate new information and tool requirements to the manufactures of tools and equipment that are used to service their vehicles. The main focus of STW is to ensure that the proper tools, equipment, and information are in the shops by the time the new models hit the streets.

ETI members come to Tech Week for one purpose: To get information. What information they are looking for and what they do with it is not as obvious. With such diverse product offerings, each company may use the information in a different way than any other.

Summer Tech Week also provides an opportunity to ensure that everything is updated for models that have already been released.

Winter Tech Week is held each December and we alternate locations yearly between Japan and the United States. For the past twenty years, the Equipment and Tool Institute and the major Japanese automakers, represented by JAMA, have presented Winter Tech Week undefined a forum to communicate new information and tool requirements for servicing new and future vehicles.

Each year, Winter Tech Week provides OEMs undefined engineers and designers undefined and ETI companies undefined the makers of tools and equipment undefined an opportunity to meet and collaborate.

Through OEM presentations, panel discussions and hands-on demonstrations, these professionals discuss the upcoming service needs of new makes and models, and the changes necessary in the tool and equipment industry to meet those needs. Current OEM participants include Hino, Honda, Isuzu, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Mitsubishi Fuso, Nissan, Subaru (Fuji Heavy Industries), Suzuki Toyota and Kia.

The main focus of ETI Winter Tech Week is to ensure that the proper tools, equipment and information are available to repair shops by the time the new models are on the streets. It also is an opportunity to make certain that ETI companies are up-to-date on information regarding running changes on existing models.
The Equipment and Tool Institute’s Spring ToolTech conference is an unparalleled opportunity for companies to promote themselves, their capabilities, their products, and to network with industry insiders that make, sell, represent or buy automotive tools and equipment. It is also an exclusive gateway for buyers in the vehicle service industry to meet with the key companies in the marketplace. Attendees include OEMs, tool and equipment companies, national chain stores, large suppliers, dealer groups, distributors, manufacturer reps and many other industry professionals.

ToolTech focuses solely on automotive-related tool and equipment companies and the individuals at the forefront of the industry. More than 140 professionals representing nearly 60 companies attend and network with industry peers, meet potential customers and potential product providers, confer with clients, convene in structured one-on-one meetings, and gain valuable insights from presentations by industry leaders.

There is no other forum offered like this for our segment of the industry and attendance is advantageous whether you are a purchaser of tools and equipment, an OEM, a mass merchandiser, a fleet representative, distributor, or manufacturer, company showcase exhibitor, or there to take advantage of the unique networking opportunities to meet and greet executives from throughout the automotive industry.

ToolTech features industry speakers, discussion groups, one-on-one prearranged closed door meetings, company spotlight, press conferences, and networking opportunities such as the Opening Reception, Company Spotlight Happy Hour, and the Closing Dinner

Q: What is ETI’s background?

Like the automotive aftermarket, ETI grew out of the American experiences in World War II, which developed the need for the use of automotive equipment to rapidly and efficiently move supplies, troops and weapons.

During the second year of the war, the War Production Board created an advisory council consisting of approximately 20 equipment and tool manufacturers to seek advice from. These 20 manufacturers became aware that a great deal could be gained by working cooperatively on industry problems. It soon became obvious that continuing cooperation between equipment and tool manufacturers and the manufacturers of vehicles was very beneficial.

After the war, 62 equipment manufacturers banded together and sent their catalogues to a central location. These catalogues were compiled into a publication known as the Automotive, Aviation, Agricultural and Marine Manual. The acceptance of this document was so gratifying that a second edition was prepared and distributed the next year.

In the spring of 1947, a meeting was called in Atlantic City by a group of about 50 equipment and tool manufacturers to discuss ways and means to form a group that would continually promote the interests of equipment and tool manufacturers. This meeting laid the groundwork for the organization, which ultimately became the Equipment and Tool Institute.

When the institute was formed there was a great need for equipment. There was also a need for training people entering the industry as well as new jobbers. Those needs were met by shows and the Equipment and Tool Institute became the industry’s leading organization in the analysis of trade show problems. As a result of those efforts, the Institute adopted a policy that has guided the industry ever since. It is the position of the members of the institute that only shows that serve a useful purpose for the entire industry and those properly promoted with the right persons in attendance are desirable.

ETI met its next major challenge in 1958. The equipment business was ebbing. The members of the institute decided to call attention to the users of equipment, the improvements in design and performance that had taken place. The Institute then launched its Re-equip, Equip And Profit program (REAP). It was admittedly the finest program ever launched by a trade association. An outside advertising agency was engaged to augment the program.

In 1961, the program was launched with complete support of all segments of the aftermarket. More than 100,000 promotional booklets were distributed to interested persons in the trade. At the height of the program, more than $100,000 worth of advertising was placed by members for the benefit of the entire equipment and tool industry. This program was also the motivator for the Shop Profit Planning Guide, originally published in 1973 with a second printing in 1975. This publication was phased out with the introduction of the new expanded Equipment Investment Planning Guide.

In 1997, ETI reached a goal few other trade associations achieve – 50 years of industry service. As ETI celebrated this milestone, it prepared itself to meet the challenges of the next 50 years.

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