LKQ Corporation is a distributor of vehicle products, including replacement parts, components and systems used in the repair and maintenance of vehicles, as well as specialty vehicle products and accessories.
Buyers of vehicle replacement products have the option to purchase from primarily five sources: new products produced by original equipment manufacturers ("OEMs"), which are commonly known as OEM products; new products produced by companies other than the OEMs, which are sometimes referred to as aftermarket products; recycled products obtained from salvage vehicles; used products that have been refurbished; and used products that have been remanufactured. We distribute a variety of products to collision and mechanical repair shops, including aftermarket collision and mechanical products, recycled collision and mechanical products, refurbished collision products such as wheels, bumper covers and lights, and remanufactured engines. Collectively, we refer to these products as alternative parts because they are not new OEM products.
We are the nation’s largest provider of alternative vehicle collision replacement products and a leading provider of alternative vehicle mechanical replacement products, with our sales, processing, and distribution facilities reaching most major markets in the United States and Canada. We are also a leading provider of alternative vehicle replacement and maintenance products in the United Kingdom and the Benelux region of continental Europe. In addition to our wholesale operations, we operate self service retail facilities across the U.S. that sell recycled automotive products from end-of-life-vehicles. With our January 2014 acquisition of Keystone Automotive Holdings, Inc. (“Keystone Specialty”) we are also a leading distributor of specialty vehicle products and accessories reaching most major markets in the U.S. and Canada.
We are organized into four operating segments: Wholesale - North America; Wholesale - Europe; Self Service; and Specialty.
We strive to be environmentally responsible. Our recycled automotive products provide an alternative to the manufacture of new products, which would require the expenditure of more resources and energy and would generate additional pollution. In addition, we save landfill space because the parts that we recycle would otherwise be discarded. We also collect materials, such as metals, plastics, fuel and motor oil, from the salvage vehicles that we procure, and use them in our operations or sell them to other users.
We are focused on creating economic value for our stockholders by enhancing our position as a leading source for alternative collision and mechanical repair products, and by expanding into other product lines and businesses that may benefit from our operating strengths. We believe a supply network with a broad inventory of quality alternative collision and mechanical repair products and specialty vehicle aftermarket products, high fulfillment rates, and superior customer service provides us with a competitive advantage.
Other than OEMs, the competition in the markets that we serve is extremely fragmented and the supply of products tends to be localized, often leading to low fulfillment rates, particularly with recycled products. In North America, the distribution channels for aftermarket and refurbished products have historically been distinct and separate from those for recycled and remanufactured products despite serving the same customer segment. We provide value to our customers by bringing these two channels together to provide a broader product offering and more efficient distribution process.
To execute our strategy in North America, we have expanded our network of parts warehouses and dismantling plants in major metropolitan areas and employ a distribution system that allows for order fulfillment from regional warehouses located across the U.S. and Canada. By increasing local inventory levels and expanding our network to provide timely access to a greater range of parts, we have increased fulfillment rates beyond the levels that we believe most of our competitors realize, particularly for recycled products.
In our European operations, we are expanding our branch network in the U.K., while simultaneously transitioning our distribution network in our continental European operations by internalizing certain distributor customers so that we may directly serve the repair shops in those markets. We believe aligning the distribution strategy in continental Europe with our two-step distribution model in the U.K. will create a cohesive presence in the respective markets. Additionally, through improved order fulfillment and operational support, we are attempting to improve profit margins and customer service.
Sources of high quality, reliable alternatives to OEM products are important to insurance companies and to our direct customers as they seek to control repair costs. Lower parts costs and quicker completion of orders save money and reduce repair times. We believe that we provide customers (and indirectly, insurance companies) with a value proposition that includes high quality products at a lower cost than new OEM products, extensive product availability due to our expansive distribution network, responsive service, and quick delivery. The breadth of our alternative parts offerings allows us to serve as a "one-stop" solution for our customers looking for the most cost effective way to provide quality repairs. In order to execute this strategy and build on our progress thus far, we will continue to seek to expand into new markets and to improve penetration both organically and through acquisitions in targeted markets.
Similarly, the supplier base for the specialty vehicle aftermarket parts and accessories market is highly fragmented, typically consisting of suppliers that are small to medium-sized, independent businesses that focus on a narrow product or market niche. While our Specialty operations had an extensive distribution network already in place, we are in process of integrating the distribution network for our North American and Specialty operations to create synergies and efficiencies with our existing infrastructure. We believe this provides added value to our customers through a broader product offering and more efficient distribution process.