In a surprising turn of events, the ROUTE 66 RV Network, one of the nation’s leading independent RV dealer groups, announced that it will no longer do business with NTP-STAG, a unit of Keystone Automotive Operations Inc. that oversees the country’s only coast-to-coast distribution network of RV aftermarket parts and accessories.

However, few details were available at press time as to the actual price-related trigger behind the breakup of the ROUTE 66, NTP-STAG relationship.

“After a 15-year relationship that began with Stag Parkway and evolved into NTP-STAG Coast, the ROUTE 66 RV Network has chosen to, effective immediately, resign their Network partnership with the parts distributor,” the management of Overland Park, Kan.-based ROUTE 66, which oversees about 155 retail locations, announced in a Thursday (Jan. 11) press release.

“The inability to secure competitive dealer pricing to enable our dealers to compete with today’s online retailers, as well as with NTP-STAG’s own drop ship, online sales strategy, makes it necessary for us to abandon this partnership and develop other options that will better fit with the overall interests of our member dealers,” stated the release from ROUTE 66, which describes itself as “a member dealer-centered organization established to serve both the bricks and mortar and expanding online opportunities for today’s RV dealership.”

“All network partnerships must provide mutual benefit to the dealership, their customers and the Network partners,” noted ROUTE 66.

Bill Rogers

Although NTP-STAG’s senior management team also declined to elaborate in detail, Bill Rogers, vice president and general manager of Keystone Automotive, today (Jan. 12) released the following statement in response to the ROUTE 66 news:

“We worked in good faith to reach an agreement with ROUTE 66 Corporation for 2018 that was ultimately not accepted,” the statement reads. “This however, will not in any way detract us from serving the needs of the dealerships that are part of the group and operate independently from ROUTE 66 Corporation. We will continue to support our customers as we always have, providing the industry’s best fill rates, training, delivery schedules and a host of marketing, merchandising and technology tools to help them grow their business.

“Our wholesale business strategy has not changed other than to develop new programs aimed at pushing online business, which typically goes around our customers, into traffic and sales for their brick and mortar locations,” the statement continued. “The fulfillment services we offer to brick and mortar locations and dealers who have an online presence have not changed and are the same as all other parts distributors try to offer.

“We really tried and we are disappointed it came to this. We will be reaching out to these customers with direct programs geared toward providing the benefits they are accustomed to receiving tailored specifically for their businesses.”