Juan Manuel de la Concha
Industry Business Director
3M Mexico
View from the Top

Aftermarket Success: from Sandpaper to Abrasives

Mon, 09/01/2014 - 15:58

Q: What key products in 3M’s portfolio have made a marked difference in the development of the automotive industry?

A: 3M has deeply contributed to the development of the automotive industry by continuously introducing innovative products that are adapted to specific market needs and requirements. We have been involved in the Mexican automotive industry since our arrival here 67 years ago. Over that time, we have established a strong presence in the aftermarket and we are a wellrecognized brand within the auto repair segment. We also have experience in creating products used for painting and finishing details of cars. One of our first products was sandpaper, which has been one of the key inputs related to automotive metalwork. We currently have sandpapers made with different grains that have a range of applications, from metallic parts to retouching of the painting process. Another well-known product is masking tape, developed specifically for automotive use, which enables workers to paint a car while producing clean lines with no mix between layers or colors. One of our star product lines is the Trizact™ abrasive line, used to correct flaws that occur during the painting process without needing to repaint the entire car. All these are crucial processes for the OEMs and workshops, and we continuously strive to improve them.

Q: What trends have you identified in the aftermarket sector, and how does 3M adapt its products to the requirements of the consumer market?

A: It is well-known that Mexico plans on producing over 4 million cars a year over the next five years. As a result, production capacity will grow and as the number of vehicles increases, our opportunities within the aftermarket will expand as well. Our targets are any shops focused on auto repair and painting, ranging from large OEM shops to small, independent ones. The market is always demanding more quality in the processes of these shops. This is motivated by insurance companies that are the main drivers of high-performance paint in repair shops, as they are in charge of repairing a client’s car after an accident. We provide these shops with aftermarket products that help them improve productivity, speed, and lower costs on repair system processes that revolve around polishing and sanding to improve finishes. Mexican consumers are constantly seeking higher quality at the right price, so 3M’s products are focused on providing a better performance and a better cost-benefit ratio.

Q: What are the distinguishing factors of the Mexican aftermarket sector?

A: Unlike the US, where there is a strong do-it-yourself culture due to labor being more expensive, it is common to pay for car maintenance in Mexico. Mexicans request that services be done for them which changes the range and types of products we distribute. 3M has no shops, but we have a very strong and important network of distributors, giving us one of the most significant presences for aftermarket distribution in Mexico. The distribution chain also has national distributing master locations, which typically supply to paint shops. This is vital as our aftermarket business model is focused on paint shops. These locations sell our products to small shops, as almost every car in need of repair will require paint. However, 3M can also give direct attention to highly productive shops.

Larger retailers of aftermarket automotive parts and accessories are coming to Mexico. Big chains are important players as they add value to the market and demand good quality products. For example, in these big chains, 3M sells its Meguiar™ brand that is well-respected in the car fan segment. Customers are migrating to shops with a better presence. In order to maintain a client’s interest, shops have evolved to become cleaner and better designed, which helps grab the customer’s attention and trust. 3M is a reference of quality that can complement this evolution in big and small repair shops alike. We divide the market into two clear segments that we can attack: the commercial and repair segments. The commercial segment is more focused on shops which provide parts like car fans, since these provide routine maintenance to vehicles. The repair segment is concentrated on those shops that cater to vehicles that have been involved in accidents. Our distribution network offers specific products to each of these two segments.