Managing the Financial Side of Commercial Fleets

Lahr’s ‘Lean’ Approach Helps LKQ Lower Distribution Costs

Mike Lahr, director of Logistics for LKQ Corp., is Fleet Financials’ 2010 Fleet Executive of the Year. In 2009, Lahr led his team in boosting efficiency, reducing costs, and improving customer service.

May 2010, by Cheryl Knight - Also by this author

Congratulations to Mike Lahr, director of Logistics for LKQ Corp., named 2010 Fleet Executive of the Year. The award, sponsored by Fleet Financials magazine and The CEI Group, was presented in a special ceremony at the NAFA Fleet Management Association (NAFA) Institute & Expo April 25.

Lahr directs a 2,900-unit fleet at LKQ, a national provider of aftermarket collision replacement, recycled OEM parts, and refurbished OEM collision replacement products. A 32-year fleet industry veteran, Lahr also heads corporate logistics purchasing programs and is responsible for negotiations with LKQ product delivery vendors.

"I have to thank the LKQ Corp. employees who embraced all the changes we have made in making our Logistics Network world class," Lahr said in accepting the award. "I also have to recognize LKQ president and CEO Joseph Holsten for providing us with great leadership and the tools to be as effective as possible in our efforts. I must also mention my wife, Beth, for allowing me to spend countless days on the road to continue my passion of my work and dedication to LKQ."

Lahr dedicated the honor to his son, Nathan, currently on a second U.S. military tour of duty in Afghanistan with the 82nd Airborne Army. The proud father had a simple message for Nathan: "Come home safe and soon, son."

Lowering Costs as Company Grows

LKQ Corporation serves tens of thousands of collision-repair businesses, mechanical service shops, and vehicle dealerships throughout the United States and Canada. The company, also a leading distributor of paint and body shop supplies, was formed in 1998 and is headquartered in Chicago.

Currently serving a significant majority of the top 75 U.S. automobile markets, LKQ seeks to provide the national reach, strict quality standards, knowledgeable sales, and fast delivery customers demand. The company also strives to achieve profitable growth and increased returns to its shareholders by:

  • Providing total customer satisfaction.
  • Striving for operational excellence and continuous improvement.
  • Promoting a culture of professionalism, teamwork, and environmental, health, and safety compliance.
  • Acting as a good corporate citizen where they work and live.

With more than 10,500 employees, the $2 billion-plus company operates a fleet that includes trucks, tractors, and trailers from Isuzu, Freightliner, International, Kenworth, Volvo, Great Dane, Wabash, Strick, and Fruehauf.

Under Lahr's direction in 2009, LKQ distribution costs as a percent of sales were reduced by 0.5 percentage points, while the company grew by 7.3 percent. The company's costs year-to-date are $4 million less than last year, all while the company continues to grow with more locations and increased sales.

Lahr's other accomplishments include creating the company's World Class Logistics Network to boost efficiency, reduce costs, and improve customer service in shuttle network and network delivery. He also developed an overnight services program to customers from 300-plus LKQ facilities.

In addition, in 2009, LKQ increased the number of stops company fleet drivers made per day, dramatically reduced overtime costs, improved driver safety, and reduced fuel costs by keeping operations lean and implementing telematics.

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