Four Wheel Drive Hardware, which mails three catalogs selling after-market Jeep parts and accessories, has several new models in its catalog garage. The Columbiana, OH-based company on July 7 bought Lash International, which owns cataloger Performance Products. In addition to market-leading books serving the Porsche, Mercedes, and Toyota Truck markets, Performance has catalogs serving the Chevrolet/GMC and Ford truck lines, plus a small Jeep line.
Four Wheel Drive Hardware will manage the two companies separately for now, says president/CEO Barry Ryan, who with the sale assumed that title at Performance as well. Former Lash owner Melvin Kay will work with Ryan in a consulting role for the next six months.
Van Nuys, CA-based Performance “is one of the most respected and best-known mail order catalogers in the after-market auto parts segment,” Ryan says. He says that the combined company exceeds $75 million in sales, with the two units “comparable” in size.
Because Four Wheel and Performance serve different segments of the aftermarket industry, overlap between the companies is minimal. In fact, Ryan plans to maintain both catalogs in the only category in which the two compete — Jeep accessories — for at least the next 18 months. “If theory proves correct,” Ryan says, “and we were to combine the two books, we’d be walking away from some potential business. So we’ll continue the two for now.”
The companies will retain their fulfillment and call centers. Because both catalogers ship a number of heavy items, such as suspension kits, drive trains, and transmission parts, they will now be able to cut freight costs by using the warehouse located closest to customers, Ryan says.
As for new projects, Four Wheel hopes to add a Dodge Trucks catalog for Performance during the next year. In addition, next spring, Four Wheel will mail a 100-plus-page “generic” prospecting catalog containing truck accessories from the different brands the two companies carry.
That move is part of Four Wheel’s plan to jump-start Performance’s truck products business. To date, Performance “hasn’t been successful in growing the truck segment as fast as it should have,” Ryan says. “We already have established a strategy in place with Performance’s management to realize this growth over the next 12 months.”