Presented by Centric Parts and its StopTech performance and racing division

November 25, 2013

Centric Parts Returns from AAPEX with Two New Trophies

Left to right – Centric Parts Mike Musso, AIA Vice Chairman Thomas Beer, Centric Parts Dan Lelchuk

Earlier this month, the Centric Parts team was in Las Vegas for the annual AAPEX and SEMA Shows - and just like last year - the team came home with a pair of trophies. Both awards were presented to Centric's own Dan Lelchuk and Mike Musso by the Auto International Association (AIA), which "promotes trade in automotive products between the international automotive community and the North American aftermarket."

The first award was given for Best Advertising Campaign for the print and video ad series we did this year educating our customers about the extensive research and development, engineering, testing and quality assurance that goes into our brake pads, rotors and calipers. The complete series is available here - and we encourage everyone to bookmark the page. It makes a great sales tool and resource. 

The second award was presented for Best Import Performance Product. That one went to our StopTech Touring Big Brake Kit for the 2006-2013 Volkswagen GTI . These new StopTech Touring Big Brake Kits (BBK) bring high performance braking to a whole new market sector. They include the same ultra-stiff patented StopTech calipers, StopTech Street Performance Brake Pads and StopTech Stainless Steel Brake Lines used in the traditional StopTech Performance BBK - but in place of the 2-pc AeroRotors we normally use in our traditional BBK, they use more affordable larger diameter 1-piece StopTech Sport Rotors that still offer greatly increased performance over stock rotors.

In awarding the trophies, AIA’s Martin Gold noted Centric’s multiple wins over the years and that the wins have covered a wide range of categories, “This company is consistently providing support for AIA and these awards, and they always stand out in whatever category they enter.”

It was another great show and the team is already looking forward o 2014!

May 15, 2013

Customer Spotlight: Vermeer Auto Parts Flying High

Today we take a look at a long-time Centric customer – Vermeer Auto Parts of Ohio and Indiana. Named for company founder and former Air Force Airman, Duke Vermeer, the family-owned and run business now has four stores and a large warehouse “employing over 40 well trained, seasoned professionals that are knowledgeable in every aspect of the import automotive aftermarket.  [Their] inventory consists of over 100,000 part numbers, representing more than 100 direct warehouse lines,” according to their website. We reached out to eldest daughter, Jana, to find out more about the history of this business and the family behind it.


Although not officially incorporated until 1974, Vermeer Auto Parts' history began in the mid 1950's. At 16, Duke earned his pilot’s license and proceeded to terrorize the locals with his chicken coop fly-bys and late-night melon snatching mischief. At 20 he enlisted in the United States Air Force, where he started selling auto parts to friends on base that he bought at his Uncle Mac's store. Parts delivery followed him on a tour of duty in France, where he arranged for parts to be sent overseas to service the American cars the airmen's families had brought over with them.

Duke returned to the States in 1964, bringing with him a brand new 40 horsepower Volkswagen camper. When the camper promptly dropped a valve, and Duke found repair parts scarce, he seized on the opportunity. He began to source and stockpile VW parts in the basement of his family's home, and Vermeer Auto Parts was born. Six years later, after a 20-year career that saw him doing maintenance on B-47s and B-52s, as well as working as an engineer on the C-130 Hercules, Duke retired from the Air Force and started driving van routes around Ohio selling parts.

Always the pilot, Duke even made the occasional delivery by air using his stripped out Cessna 206 (left) and the grass airstrip (above) outside their parts warehouse. The normally six-passenger plane was able to haul over 1,000 pounds of parts with the other five seats removed. During a major UPS strike that could have crippled this parts delivery business, Duke was working the plane full-time, making quick pitstops between deliveries before taking off again for another trip.

And Duke certainly hasn't been flying solo running the business - his wife Nora and the rest of the Vermeer family are a huge part of this business and its success too. Besides Duke and Nora, there have been several other family members pitching in and running things, with daughters Jana (top-right) and Laurie (top-left) and their children - Jenny, Laurie (also pictured above) and Doug - making it three generations so far. Jana’s husband Brad and all of the family dogs are there too, helping things run smoothly. That's Skippy on the left and Bella on the right in the photo at the top. One family member sadly missing from the roster is Duke’s late son Doug, who had pretty much taken over running the day-to-day operations of the business until he was tragically killed in a racing accident at Indianapolis in 1987.

That’s when the daughters stepped up and not only took a more active role in the company, but also helped their mother establish the Doug Vermeer Memorial Fund, which raises scholarship money for college students through an annual charity golf tournament among other things. As Jana describes it, “In the beginning it was a pretty serious affair when mom was running things, but now it’s a really fun time for everyone involved. Dad will even fly his L2 in and land on the 18th fairway. It scares the heck out of everybody but it’s part of the fun.” Centric is proud to be a part of this tradition, which has raised over $200,000 in scholarship money for some 50 plus students “who might not be at the top of their class, but who could really use the help,” according to Jana.

The “L2” mentioned above, by the way, refers to a restored Army Taylorcraft L2 observation plane (below) that Duke restored. It miraculously survived a tornado a couple of years ago, that blew in the West doors of the hangar and out the front. A backhoe and dump truck parked inside somehow managed to block all of the debris from putting even one scratch on the fabric plane! Duke was away when it happened and couldn’t believe his luck when he saw that his prized possession had survived unscathed.

Pretty much retired from the parts business, Duke and his wife spend most of their time on their farm now - Duke still enjoying his motorized machines, tending to 20 acres of woods at the edge of the property - and Nora "keeping him in line." When they’re not there the couple is usually in Port Charlotte, Florida where they spend their winters. The family can’t wait for them to come back every Spring, although mom probably wishes they could stay down south more and dad just keeps getting more ornery according to Jana.

It might have started 60 years ago with Duke arranging to get parts for fellow military folks overseas, but three airplanes, four hangers and four stores later, Vermeer Auto Parts is the Midwest's largest independent import auto parts distributor. The Vermeer family is still there running the show, and although Duke has largely retired, he is always available for advice and even to make the occasional parts delivery.

April 30, 2013

Centric Parts' Brian Griffin Leads National Catalog Managers Association Conference in St. Louis

This past week, Centric Parts' own Director of Catalog and Product Management, Brian Griffin, III, was in St. Louis to oversee the 40th Annual National Catalog Managers Association (NCMA) Knowledge Conference. As chairman of the NCMA, Griffin helped welcome the record number of attendees to the conference.

According to Amy Antenora of Aftermarket News, this year's event set a new attendance record with 320 registered attendees and exhibitors - which included a record number of first-time participants as well.

The event kicked off with a welcome reception at Busch Stadium on Saturday, April 20, followed by a Sunday that was packed with presentations from speakers like AAIA Chief Information Officer Scott Luckett, speaking on "The State of the Standards;” Marian Maasshoff of MOTOR Information Systems, discussing "Behind the Vehicle Database;" and Jim Grubbs of WHI Solutions, presenting "From Good to Great Content." There was also a panel discussion with parts store managers from O'Reilly, CARQUEST, Advance Auto Parts and NAPA, as well as some technical breakout training sessions.

Griffin noted, "NCMA is not an island, rather it is a specialized community within a larger organization, a segment of the industry with a common profession: content management." Indeed, the conference was a great opportunity for networking - with old members reconnecting to catch up and to welcome the new members into the fold.

As usual, the closing event on Sunday night was the President's Dinner, with great music, good food and stunning panoramic views - as well as riverboat-style gambling that benefited the Aftermarket Foundation.

Not just a chance to mingle and pick up the latest industry tips, the conference also earned attendees Continuing Education Credits (CEUs) from the University of the Aftermarket that can be applied toward their Automotive Catalog Professional (ACP) designation. In fact, eight automotive catalog professionals received their ACP graduation certificates during the event this year – signifying “a commitment to life-long learning, career development and industry participation.”

“The ACP was developed to recognize the best in this business and, on behalf of the full NCMA membership, we add our congratulations to these members who have worked so hard over the years to elevate their profession,” said NCMA President Brian Griffin, Centric Parts. “ACP is an acknowledgement of your accomplishments that employers and your colleagues look up to.”

In a separate event, Catalog Excellence Awards were also presented this year in the categories of paper, web and mobile automotive cataloging.

“NCMA members work hard all year long to produce the application and product data that fuels the aftermarket engine,” said NCMA president Brian Griffin, Centric Parts. “It’s always a highlight of the conference when we can recognize the very best examples of this work in print and electronic form. The demands on content professionals to be creative and do more with less are greater than ever. And the NCMA members are the best examples of the profession.”

Next year’s conference will be held May 4-7, 2014, at the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort in Phoenix, Ariz. For more information about NCMA, visit

April 23, 2013

The Centric License Plate Has a New Home

Remember that license plate we showed you a few months ago? The one that read, "Centric"? Well, the same member of the extended Centric Parts family responsible for the plate has attached it to an even more impressive statement of brand loyalty.

Robert Geist, a member of the sales force at Parts Authority in Phoenix just sent over some photos of where we can find those personalized license plates. The plates are proudly displayed on an awesome looking Hyundai with Centric Parts, PosiQuiet, StopTech and Fleet Performance logos all over it. And when we say all over it, we mean all over it. Take a look at the photos and you'll see a car completely wrapped in Centric livery!

As we said last time, we see this kind of dedication from our employees and sales force in many different ways, but this being a distributor, we are truly humbled and we had to share.

If you are in the Phoenix area, keep an eye out for the car, the plates and Robert, who will more than likely be wearing a Centric cap for good measure.

February 6, 2013

Centric Named Vendor of the Year by NPW

Centric Parts sales rep, Joe Evora, and Centric VP of Sales Mike Musso (below right), were recently in Florida, where they attended the National Performance Warehouse (NPW) Million Dollar Dinner, the black tie awards banquet that coincided with the fourth annual FAST Expo.

All involved praised the event, held at the Tower Club on Friday evening.  John Washbish (President of The Alliance Buying Group) helped hand out the awards with Larry Pacey (President and CEO of NPW) and also spoke about Alliance and the great addition of NPW to the Alliance family.  Both John and Larry thanked all the recipients, which included Centric Parts for being a million dollar vendor.

As if that wasn’t enough, on Saturday evening, roughly 200 guests attended the "Vendor Appreciation Dinner" at the Broward County Convention Center, where Centric received the "VENDOR OF THE YEAR AWARD." It was an unexpected honor that Centric is truly grateful for.

In accepting the award, Musso said, "On behalf of Centric Parts, Dino Crescentini, Dan Lelchuk and myself I want to thank you for this award.  It is an honor to be recognized through this award.  If not for the efforts of NPW and their customers this would not be possible.  All I can say now is look out 2013.”

The Expo itself was well attended by both NPW Jobbers and installers (over 3,000 people), and we heard a lot of praise for Centric products.  Many installers told us that Centric is all they use. That’s always nice to hear and we are truly grateful for all of the kind words we heard regarding our products and our company, as well as the honor of being named Vendor of the Year.

The next CARS Expo will be held on April 14, in San Jose, Calif.