Quality and Affordability for Over Sixty Years

Bestbuy Distributors

The pair recruited several independent jobbers as partners, and thus were able to greatly increase their purchasing power. Throughout the years, the buying group has expanded out of Ontario into all of Canada, recruiting many more jobbers along the way and vastly expanding the group’s range of services. The group is now one of the largest networks of wholesalers in Canada.

Today, the company acts first and foremost as a warehouse distributor, with warehouses in Mississauga and Edmonton. The premise of the industry is simple: first, the aftermarket auto parts obtained from various primary suppliers are stocked in Bestbuy Distributors’ expansive warehouses; the company’s inventory typically holds just about any part that may be needed on a common car. Then, the parts are shipped to automotive parts distributors (jobbers / wholesalers), who in turn supply repair centres. In addition to Direct / Drop ship and warehouse programs, the company has its own household brand (Quality Automotive Products), and has been offering excellent customized marketing services for the past 20 years.

Bestbuy Distributors has remained a member owned company since 1955 – all of its members are also shareholders in the corporation. Today, approximately 70 independent shareholder members overseeing over 170 stores enjoy the perks of being part of the Bestbuy Distributors family. Near-purchase value prices are reserved for members only, and all profits are redistributed amongst the members. Furthermore, this cooperative arrangement gives the jobbers all the freedom they need to develop and run their business as they please, while the corporation is unburdened by the obligation to create a certain amount of dividends each year, as a public company would.

Quality Products

While aftermarket auto parts have not always had the best reputation for quality, there is nothing to fear from the products that go through Bestbuy Distributors’ warehouses. All the parts must meet Original Equipment Specifications or better, and the company works in close collaboration with its suppliers to make sure that their parts always meet high standards of quality. As Bestbuy Distributors President Jeff VandeSande puts it, “there is a whole effort to make sure that the part looks, feels, fits and works just like the O.E. [original equipment] part would.”

In some specific cases, aftermarket auto parts suppliers actually make changes to improve certain auto parts that have been known to be prone to failure or malfunction often. And because these parts are not subject to the same intense marketing used by “official” brands, they can be priced much more competitively while maintaining standards of fabrication equal or superior to the original part. Also, as Mr. VandeSande points out, technicians from dealerships and from independent repair centres are likely to have undergone the same apprenticeship training, and are certified and licenced by the same governing body. Therefore, if your independent repair shop uses quality aftermarket auto parts, you will most likely get equivalent service and quality – at a much better price.

Facing Challenges

As anyone in the aftermarket auto parts industry knows, changing mentalities is no easy task. One of the most important issues for Bestbuy Distributors and the automotive aftermarket in general, is getting people to commit to regular car maintenance. “Our biggest issue is trying to get Canadians to bring their car in and have it properly maintained,” explains Mr. VandeSande. “So many people… only get their car repaired when they absolutely need to. [It’s] just like going to see the dentist or doctor… you need to maintain your vehicle so it lasts longer. It will cost you less in the long run,” he says.

“I would encourage any consumer to make sure that they maintain their vehicle,” he adds, “and not to be afraid to go to the aftermarket to get it looked after.” To help change Canadian drivers’ habits in this regard, Bestbuy Distributors is a member of the Automotive Industries Association of Canada (AIA Canada), an association that represents the automotive aftermarket in Canada and lobbies the government in hopes of creating an awareness program that would award tax credits to people who get their vehicles regularly inspected. While helping the automotive parts industry, such a program would also help reduce fuel consumption, help save the environment by reducing pollution, encourage job creation and promote safety.

Furthermore, just like its fellow companies in the aftermarket auto parts industry, Bestbuy Distributors faces the challenge of convincing people that they do not necessarily need to have their cars serviced at a dealership. One persistent myth that needs to be exposed is the widespread belief that going to an independent repair shop would be detrimental to your vehicle and even void your warranty. Mr. VandeSande explains that in the past, original equipment manufacturers have used marketing as a tool to give the aftermarket a bad reputation, suggesting that customers would only get bad service and a void warranty if they did not choose the dealership. When the aftermarket industry fought back, the manufacturers had to retract these claims. According to Mr. VandeSande, original equipment manufacturers still have several tricks up their sleeves to try and keep the lucrative automotive repairs business to themselves. The ever-increasing number of electronic gadgets in new cars, for instance, has opened up a whole new aspect of car repair – one that requires codes and specific tools that manufacturers are sometimes reluctant to share with the independent repair centres.

The most recent issue is that of telematics technologies (such as OnStar) that automatically notify the dealership as soon as the vehicle needs any kind of servicing. The dealership then contacts the driver to set up an appointment, thus making it difficult for aftermarket centres to keep up with the competition. “[Consumers] should have the right to decide where they go to get [their car] fixed,” points out Mr. VandeSande.

Looking Ahead

Nonetheless, things are looking bright for Bestbuy Distributors. The company has just begun building a 35,000 square foot expansion for its Mississauga warehouse, set to be completed this fall. Mr. VandeSande states that the company is presently focused on maintaining quality services for its customers while it continues to grow and add new distributors. Given the right opportunity, expansion into the United States could be a possibility; for now, he says, “we are a Canadian company, and we are really focused on growing in Canada. There are still a lot of open markets here to go after.”

When asked about what challenges the company faces right now, Mr. VandeSande seems more interested in the welfare of his members and customers than in revenue growth. His interest toward the people with whom he works embodies Bestbuy Distributors’ philosophy perfectly; all the way down the chain, from supplier to consumer, Bestbuy is dedicated to offering quality parts at a fair price while nurturing “mutually rewarding partnerships.” After 60 years of expansion and development, the successful company still holds the same core values and ideals: uniting independent jobbers from all across Canada to provide affordable quality auto parts all the way down to the consumer.

October 23, 2017, 7:24 AM EDT

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