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Executive Interviews

Executive Interview: Al Wheeler, Senior Vice President, Commercial Business, Advance Auto Parts

Al Wheeler, a veteran of the automotive aftermarket, has served as Senior Vice President, Commercial Business for Advance Auto Parts since December 2014. In this role, Al is responsible for leading the company’s service strategy with regard to commercial customers, including independent service professionals as well as national and strategic accounts.

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Al Wheeler

Al Wheeler, a veteran of the automotive aftermarket, has served as Senior Vice President, Commercial Business for Advance Auto Parts since December 2014. In this role, Al is responsible for leading the company’s service strategy with regard to commercial customers, including independent service professionals as well as national and strategic accounts. Prior to joining Advance via the company’s acquisition of General Parts International, Inc., Al served for more than 30 years with CARQUEST where he was involved in all aspects of the company’s business from distribution management, sales, stores and market development.
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As the largest aftermarket parts provider in the U.S., how do you balance parts proliferation and the need to carry high quality brands that shop ­owners trust?
Commercial customers ­expect Advance Professional Driven by CARQUEST to deliver the parts availability and ­coverage they need to best service their customers’ vehicles. That’s why at Advance we carry more than 500,000 parts and accessories from trusted national brands, including the exclusive line of premium ­CARQUEST products.

Our company’s scale provides an advantage to getting the correct parts to a shop – fast. We have more than 5,200 company-operated locations and 1,300 independently owned CARQUEST locations. We also have a network of 50 distribution centers across our operations supplemented with additional inventory in some stores, which we call “hub stores.” We also have a network of more than 25 high-inventory stores, called “superhubs,” which are basically mini-distribution centers that further ­enhance our supply chain ­availability.

Advance’s data and technology ­systems allow us to ­customize the mix of products for our commercial customers in certain stores or markets based on the types of vehicles most commonly serviced, and we’re also looking ahead to ensure we’re first to market with late-model parts coverage. ­Finally, with the ability to cross-source with our channel partners, ­Autopart ­International and WORLDPAC, ­Advance has grown its quality import parts coverage with the most respected import manufacturers in the industry. With the ability to leverage inventories and delivery efficiencies across the ­enterprise for commercial shops, it ­ultimately means more parts available more often.

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What is the breadth of parts ­coverage available from Advance ­Professional Driven by CARQUEST?
We carry the brands that our ­customers know, want and trust. Our exclusive offering of CARQUEST brand products delivers premium quality and proven reliability in products designed and rigorously tested for the professional technician. We choose suppliers that adhere to international process standards and social accountability practices. When customers see the CARQUEST shield, they recognize they’re getting a ­superior parts quality available only through Advance Professional Driven by CARQUEST.

PrintA great example is our CARQUEST Wearever brake offering: we have ­premium-grade brake friction and components to support 99 percent of the cars and light trucks on the road today. These pads are designed for the professional installer and are put through rigorous quality and performance testing to ensure our commercial customers get the quality they expect from a premium pad.

Advance also offers parts from trusted brands like Monroe, Bosch and Dorman, and no one in the industry has more MOOG than we do. We carry more than 65,000 unique ­engine management parts including the complete line of Intermotor/BWD products and SMP’s newer line of TechSmart product, which are parts engineered by technicians that offer solutions to problematic OE parts. We partner with the world’s three leading O2 sensor manufacturers, Denso, Bosch and NTK, to name a few. ­CARQUEST premium brands also ­extend into climate control, filters, batteries, belts and hoses. That translates to offering quality parts and complete solutions for every job.

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What does the acquisition of ­CARQUEST and WORLDPAC by ­Advance mean for a shop owner?
Through the integration of the ­CARQUEST and WORLDPAC brands we’ve expanded the portfolio of ­quality, trusted parts available from ­Advance. We have more products in market, closer to our customers than ever before.

AdvanceWe are also working to integrate the best of all business units in ways that deliver upgraded service and parts availability to shops within our networks. Some of these integration items include creating more supply chain efficiencies and enabling cross-sourcing from an Advance store to a ­CARQUEST store and vice versa. All of these enhancements are designed to help us better prepare for and respond to commercial customer needs. Our import parts availability is dramatically improved with the integration of WORLDPAC and Autopart ­International offerings.

The benefits also extend to more ­robust service and business solutions like CARQUEST Technical Institute (CTI), CARQUEST TECHNICAL TRAINING, TECHNET — our marketing solutions program which was ­enriched for members in 2015 — and our suite of MOTOSHOP Technology Services. At the end of the day, we are delivering the parts, tools and services to our customers that allow them to grow their business better than ever before.

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Where can I learn more about the parts and services available from ­Advance Professional Driven by ­CARQUEST?
For more information, visit pro.AdvanceCommercial.com or call us at 1-877-280-5965.

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