What’s New at ASAP? Lots

Automotive Specialty Accessories and Parts (ASAP), the parent company of catalogers J.C. Whitney & Co. and Stylin’ Concepts, plans to make some significant changes this year. Last month it announced one of them: a new chairman of the board of directors.

Love Goel, chairman/CEO of Minnetonka, MN-based investment firm Growth Ventures Group, is now chair of ASAP. He replaces William B.R. Hobbs, who remains a board member. Goel is a former chief operating officer for Federated Department Stores and general merchandise cataloger Fingerhut. (He also contributes a quarterly column to Multichannel Merchant.)

“J.C. Whitney is the oldest and largest cataloger in this space,” Goel says. “And it is the largest Internet retailer in this space now. More and more of these sales are shifting to the Web, and we’re in position to capitalize on this. This is a great opportunity, and as a board we’re very excited.”

Founded in 1915, Chicago-based J.C. Whitney sells aftermarket auto parts and accessories through multiple catalogs, a Website, and a store in LaSalle, IL. Independence, OH-based Stylin’ Concepts sells accessories for light-duty trucks, SUVs, minivans, and sport compact autos through catalogs, a Website, and a store in Independence. ASAP mailed 30 million catalogs in 2006 and attracted more than 35 million visitors to its Websites, Goel says. New York-based private equity firm the Riverside Co. owns ASAP.

Terming his appointment as board chairman a “natural evolution of where we are as a company,” Goel adds that “2006 was a very solid year for us.” He attributes ASAP’s strong performance to a focused catalog circulation initiative and acceleration of the Internet channel.

Goel will work with J.C. Whitney president Lawrence Marmon and Stylin’ Concepts president John Milos on this year’s initiatives, among them a couple of new catalogs, including one specializing in RV parts and equipment; at least one new Website and one remodeled site; and a direct response television show.

“The company is now poised for significant growth organically through new books and potentially acquiring other companies,” Goel says. “We’re at the natural inflection point of the business where a different set of eyes is part of the natural evolution of the business.”