After a year of hard work integrating the operations of Wilsonville, Ore.-based NTP Distribution Inc. and its new parent company, Keystone Automotive Operations Inc., the company’s management feels the mission of fusing the two companies’ cultures and operations together was complete before the lights went on last week (Feb. 12-15) for the NTP Show at the San Diego Convention Center.
Spokesmen from both the automotive and RV sides of the aftermarket parts and accessory distributor were candid last week during the company’s trade show and dealer conference about the challenges they faced in 2012 after Exeter, Pa.-based Keystone purchased NTP in October of 2011. And they all felt that the company was better off in terms of delivery times, dealer support, revenues and market share.
“We have over a thousand dealers here, by far our largest show ever, including being up triple digits (in dealer attendance) from Canada,” NTP Vice President of Sales Jon White said in addressing dealers and exhibiting suppliers on opening day. “We’re very happy to see that growth over the border. We have the largest number of suppliers ever, and our biggest booth count. So, we are very excited for the next couple of days.
“Now, we know that in 2012 we had our challenges — like any integration, we had our ups and our downs and things took some time to be resolved — and we appreciate your loyalty and your patience,” he added. “I am very lucky to have such a tremendous sales team out in the field, working with you guys on the phones and in person, and also to have such a great customer base who came up with the patience as we worked through our issues. So, for that, I thank you.”
Although NTP never announced it, the supplier involvement reportedly exceeded 200 companies.
Keystone President & CEO Ed Orzetti sees “phenomenal momentum” within the company, not only in the extent of integrated operations. “But when I say we’ve integrated fully, it’s the whole fulfillment system, and that’s what Keystone brought to the party for NTP and for the RV dealers. It’s a fairly unique logistics network,” Orzetti told RVBUSINESS.com.
As an individual who’s experienced plenty of private equity acquisitions, Orzetti describes the company’s 2012 transition as one of the best he’s seen. “Now, look, with integration, there’s always bumps in the road and its ugly,” he said. “But when you move fast, you get through them. You figure out what the problems are and you move forward. But I will tell you this: The nice thing is that the integration is fully behind us.”
At the same time, Orzetti maintained, NTP jumped from the nation’s No. 3 to No. 2 distributor of RV aftermarket parts and accessories.
“By the way, a couple of other exciting things happened,” he added. “You know, NTP was predominantly a West Coast company. They laid the foundations for some things in the Southeast and Central (regions). NTP is now a full national company.
“But it gets even better because there’s now an NTP Canada, which didn’t exist when we entered the picture,” said Orzetti. “And while we don’t reveal the numbers, we had a lot of Canadians here (in San Diego) and we had special Canadian social events for both our Canadian and U.S. customers on separate nights. The NTP business model has now been rolled out to Canada as well as the rest of the U.S.”
NTP President Greg Boyd says the transition started “right out of the gate” with a plan that involved the blending, where appropriate, of warehouses. The end result is a distribution system that includes 23 cross-docks across North America plus warehousing and facilities expediting next day service.
“Our success is also represented in our customers,” said Boyd. “Certainly, we had their loyalty going through the change. But the true test of success is the fact that we’ve grown exponentially over this last year, all while going through this change. So that’s a true test, not only with our existing customer base — and certainly some of the trials and tribulations we had in transitioning — but gaining market share and new accounts as we went through it all.”