Fellowes Research

Who We Are

 Who We Are

Mission

Our mission is to be your preferred source of expertise on OEM parts and service solutions including EPCs, parts locators, parts eCommerce solutions (mechanical, collision and retail), dynamic parts pricing, wholesale parts CRM and marketing services, parts supply-chain (stock replenishment and referral), service menu pricing and adjacent solutions and suites (including dealer solution portals).

Why Fellowes Research

Whether it’s a one hour review of the Service-Parts solution landscape or a multi-month implementation of a service-parts initiative or an ongoing strategic assessment role, Fellowes Research brings knowledge of the market, product and technologies as well as a collaborative approach that will benefit your organization and its programs.

Fellowes Research is independent - and can be trusted to provide unbiased information on Service-Parts solutions, data and markets .

As described in greater detail below, Fellowes Research’s founder brings uniquely broad and deep experience on major successful service-parts solutions from 1985 through today

Ted Fellowes: Founder and President of Fellowes Research

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In the second half of the 1980s, Ted led the implementation of the first OEM illustrated EPC (Electronic Parts Catalog) working for Bell & Howell’s Publishing Systems Company that in 2006 (after becoming ProQuest Business Systems) was acquired by Snapon and was renamed Snapon Business Systems – widely known as, SBS). In the late 1990s, working for Bell & Howell, he envisioned and directed the first automotive OEM Dealer Parts eCommerce solution (which in the early 2000s became OEConnection’s CollisionLink). In the year 2000, Ted founded Fellowes Research Group, Inc. In the first-half of the 2000s, Ted led the initiative to build the first web-based dealer parts locator and backorder referral solution (OEConnection’s D2DLink and D2D Express) and later played key roles in wholesale mechanical part eCommerce and retail eCommerce solutions for dealerships.

Ted has worked with most of leading vehicle EPC and Service Parts eCommerce solution providers worldwide (as well as OEMs and DMS providers) in recent years aiding the industry's rapid advancements.

Ted has been at speaker on Service Parts solutions for VW, Chrysler, Hyundai and Digital Dealer Conferences as well as DealersEdge webinars. Ted has also written extensively including dozens of articles for FixedOps Magazine on a wide range topics related to service-parts solutions. For a sample of articles, see the ‘Library’ tab.

Ted Fellowes - LinkedIn Profile


Pictures and Parts

Ted co-authored the first publication heralding how new digital technologies were revolutionizing OEM parts operations and sales in general and parts catalogs in particular: “Pictures and Parts: Delivering an Automated Automotive Parts Catalog” National Academy of Sciences - Managing Innovation in Services (1988).


Our Passion for Service-Parts Solutions – Message from our Founder

Situation.  In 1985, as a Director of Strategic Planning for a just-barely-Fortune-500 firm (Bell & Howell) – despite my youth and limited experience (or perhaps because of it) – I was asked to assist a team in rural Ohio (Wooster, an hour southwest of Cleveland) that was building what-would-be the first-ever digital or “electronic” OEM parts catalog.  The business unit responsible for this initiative, MicroPhoto (later Publication Systems Company and now Snap-on’s SBS – Snap-on Business Systems) published technical documentation (primarily OEM parts catalogs) on microform for automakers, heavy equipment makers (Caterpillar, John Deere) and others.  I was named project manager for this promising but struggling initiative (behind schedule, over budget and with an increasingly-concerned corporate staff in Chicago). 

Earlier (1981 – 1982) Bell & Howell had invested millions to build a ‘Rube Goldberg machine’ (according to even its builders) that integrated a computer with a motorized microfilm reader – users keyed in a vehicle’s Year, Make and Model – then catalog section number – and the appropriate catalog fiche frame was displayed (yes, the device used a roll of 105mm microfice).  It worked well in the lab but was not received well by dealership parts managers.  GM cancelled the program but offered MicroPhoto a second chance a few years later. 

 Using an UNIX server (first from IBM, then Sun) paired with racks of 8-inch hard-disk drives, an illustrated digital parts catalog – an EPC (Electronic Parts Catalog) – was delivered – and then first publicly displayed (with limited catalogs) at NADA 1986.  (More detail in a chapter I authored in The National Academy of Engineering’s “Innovation in Services” 1988 – see above.)

Problems.  Weeks spent in dealership parts departments were an eye-opener.  Racks of paper catalogs a dozen feet across and several rows deep loomed.  Parts countermen selected and retrieved larger-than-phone-book tomes and then flipped to the correct section, selecting the needed part-types from the illustration and, using the callout as a key, sought out the appropriate starting point in the text pages.  Nearly always there were many distinct part-numbers for each part type – each with codes and symbols signaling which vehicle configuration and options were (were not) a fit for that part number.   It could take 20 minutes or longer for a trained parts counterman to specify the dozen or so parts needed for a single collision repair.

A slow process was just the visible portion of the iceberg.  Return rates (driven by specification errors from manual look-ups) were 10% or more – at least twice today’s levels.  Learning to use parts catalogs well took Parts Department personnel years.  But, even experts expended significant time and still let too many errors slip through.  Each parts-specification error meant a loss of time for the mechanic doing repairs – lowering his (her) effective hourly pay given the flat rate scale for payment.  This also raised the risk that the consumer’s vehicle wouldn’t be finished on time (a customer and dealer satisfaction burden on vehicle-makers). 

 Jotting down part numbers on scrap paper and then keying them into the DMS … looking up a part’s availability, and – for parts not available from the dealership’s own shelves/bins – re-keying part numbers into the DCS (Dealer Communication Systems or “factory communications”) to see if/when they’d be available from the OEM’s facing (nearest) PDC (Parts Distribution Center) and/or keying part numbers into a parts locator and – once a stocking dealer was found – phoning these other dealer(s).  These at-best semi-automated processes further slowed the process and allowed additional errors to creep in.

Opportunity.  These challenges were growing steadily worse as automakers (particularly those based in North America and Europe) offered vehicles with more and more options – meaning more part numbers applied to each part type – more choices for parts countermen squinting at often fuzzy and scratched microfiche reader screens to consider and select from. 

This series of worsening problems for fast and accurate “parts specification” was an opportunity – an opportunity for me to participate in improving one corner of the world.  This was the start of the passion that continues today for me and for Fellowes Research – a passion to improve service-parts operations for OEMs, Dealers (and their Parts and Service staff), independent repairers, fleets and vehicle-owners.

Parts Catalog Complexity vs Ease-of-Use.PNG

 Resolution.   Our story has a happy ending: despite a still-growing complexity in parts specification, speed, accuracy and required expertise have all declined substantially as depicted in the diagram below.

Coming Soon: more on the industry’s history and our passion to make the world a better place for service-parts solutions.