SIPS Group Turns 20

February 23, 2021

By Angela Chiang, Liaison, Import Vehicle Community

Matters of Import

This past November marked the 20-year anniversary of the Society of Import Part Specialists (SIPS). We recently spoke to SIPS Coordinator Gary Garberg about this milestone, how the group has evolved through the growth of import nameplate vehicles and what’s in store for SIPS this year.

Q. Congratulations on SIPS’s recent 20-year anniversary. Tell me about SIPS and how the organization came together 20 years ago?

A. In 2000, import specialists were unique in the aftermarket. At the time, Jose Meyer of Meyer’s Auto Parts in Las Vegas, Nev. wanted to connect with other likeminded import auto parts specialist owners to share ideas and challenges specific to our segment of the auto parts industry.

We had the idea to organize a meeting of prominent import specialists from all across the country at AAPEX in the fall of 2020. We discussed the needs of import specialists that were not significantly represented within any of the major buying groups at that time and the idea of initiating a national buying group targeting import name-plate auto parts.

The concept struck a chord with many who attended the meeting and with the approval and support of those individuals, the Society of Import Parts Specialists, Inc., (SIPS), was established.

Q. How has the group evolved over the years?

A. While the initial key focus of the group was on buying containers of popular products together, many side conversations developed within the group. Over time, the relationships and degree of camaraderie that grew between the members created a source for knowledge, timely ideas, solutions to problems and a sense of having real friends with a common cause.

SIPS became a resource and platform for many small, family-owned businesses to connect with other businesses and to exchange critical information about our businesses, including performance standards, employee challenges, delivery strategies, new product selections, advertising and every other detail about our day-to-day business operations.

Q. We’ve seen incredible growth in import vehicle registrations in the past two decades. How has this trend impacted SIPS and its members?

A. Twenty years ago, imports made up less than 30% of total U.S. VIO. But we’ve seen a strong shift in the U.S. fleet and today, imports are moving to a 50% share of VIO.

The increased demand has led to traditionally domestic-oriented auto parts chains to address the surging import parts market. In 2003, the SIPS group aligned with a national buying group to increase both groups’ purchasing strength of import-oriented product lines.

Q. Now that 2020 is behind us, what are you most excited about in the coming year?

A. SIPS members have always been able to come to the aid of each other to discuss the challenges of new competitors and to formulate ideas on how to remain competitive in today’s marketplace. The accomplishments of the individual members of SIPS have ultimately assured the achievements and success of the SIPS organization for the past 20 years and that will continue into the future.

I value the commitment and dedication of our members to the SIPS group and the continued importance of communication, camaraderie and genuine friendships that has sustained each member in their SIPS membership experience.

SIPS Group