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The Top Aftermarket Newsmakers of 2008

For the fifth year in a row, the editorial staff of aftermarketNews has selected the top individuals who have made an impact on the industry this past year.

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By Amy Antenora
editor,
aftermarketNews.com

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For the fifth year in a row, the editorial staff of aftermarketNews has selected the top individuals who have made an impact on the industry this past year. Although numbered 1-9, the newsmakers are not actually ranked in a specific order.

1) The Alliance – In October, Aftermarket Auto Parts Alliance Inc. (the Alliance) announced the creation of a new position – executive vice president. A major role of this new senior management team member will be to lead strategic initiatives that will strengthen the Alliance’s position as an industry leader.

Responsibilities will also include interaction with Alliance members and vendors as well as Alliance Parts Warehouse; the Alliance’s co-man Little Rock, Ark., location. The Alliance, based in San Antonio, Texas, is headquarters for one of the largest aftermarket groups in North America. Its membership consists of privately-held large and medium-sized warehouse distributors as well as parts stores and service centers.

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Former manufacturing exec John Washbish will join the San Antonio team as second in command to Alliance President and CEO Richard Morgan. Washbish brings with him more than 30 years experience in the automotive aftermarket, more than half of them as a senior executive. His talents are uniquely geared toward this industry as he has worked in automotive manufacturing and with automotive distributors that relied on his strengths to help make them more efficient and profitable.

2) Affinia – Not afraid to be labeled "outspoken," the top executives at Affinia Group Inc. this past year offered up their opinions on a number of important issues by way of open letters and public written statements. The most recent was a written statement titled "A Message from Affinia Concerning Lightweight Rotors."

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And, while this got the attention of many in the industry, the more unexpected communiqué from the parts manufacturer was the Open Letter from President and CEO Terry McCormack in June, which announced that the company would scale back its presence at the 2008 AAPEX show in Las Vegas, citing that the company’s decision speaks to the more significant shifts taking place in today’s business world – changes that cannot be ignored. In the letter, McCormack wrote, “We believe the automotive aftermarket is in the throes of a paradigm shift."

3) Michael Cardone Jr. –
Not one to look for the spotlight, Michael Cardone Jr. nonetheless deserves recognition for the truly unique and creative approach he took in 2008 to the issue of rising healthcare costs. In September, CARDONE Industries announced the establishment of The CARDONE Factory Family Health Clinic, which will provide high quality health care exclusively for CARDONE Factory Family Members and their families.

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The 2500-square-foot facility, located on property already owned by CARDONE, will offer primary health care, internal medicine, care management, diagnostic and wellness services to CARDONE’s 4,000 employees and 8,000 family members. Established in conjunction with Philadelphia’s Holy Redeemer Family Health Center, the facility will provide convenient access to health care, it will also offer flexible hours, cutting down on unnecessary and expensive emergency room visits, for CARDONE employees and family members.

4) The Driving Public – While the past year made many of us feel powerless as we stared $4-per-gallon gas in the face, 2008 may actually have been the year where consumers made more of an impact than ever before – particularly when it came to driving and vehicle maintenance habits.

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With the entire country in the midst of economic turmoil, American consumers this past year were on many occasions forced to make some tough choices in light of rising gas, healthcare and food costs, while also struggling to make mortgage payments and hang on to their jobs.

Driving less (and therefore buying less gas) and opting to hang on to and maintain their current vehicles were two key ways U.S. consumers were able to make a dent in their spending habits in 2008. In June 2008, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration reported a significant decrease in the amount of miles driven, and petroleum demand dipped to the lowest level in 26 years.

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5) Steve Hoellein – One of the industry’s most unsung heroes received some much-deserved recognition this past year. Steve Hoellein, president of Felt Auto Parts in Odgen, Utah, was recognized in May for his outstanding efforts raising funds for the GAAS scholarship fund as well as for his industry recruitment efforts in his home state of Utah.

Frustrated with the lack of programs aimed at recruiting bright, young professionals to the auto parts industry, Hoellein, took matters into his own hands, starting right in his own back yard. Not only does he recruit students to complete internships at Felt Auto Parts, but he has also worked with local and state government to take his recruitment crusade to a new level.

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Several years ago he helped start the Automotive Aftermarket Advisory Council in his community, which is comprised of local aftermarket businesses with the purpose of getting the industry’s name out in the community and to work in promoting automotive technology in the high schools. His own career path serves as the perfect tale of success when recruiting. Hoellein started out as a driver with Felt Auto Parts in 1966.

He became manager of the company’s machine shop operations in 1971, and became a company owner in 1985, taking over management of the company’s entire operations. A member of the Automotive Warehouse Distributors Association (AWDA), he received his Automotive Aftermarket Professional (AAP) designation in 1994.

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6) The Leaders of AWDA – In addition to spending years rising through the ranks of their professions and excelling at their work day after day, the following four men go far beyond the nine-to-five routine, selflessly giving up their time, ideas, creativity and executive prowess to better the aftermarket industry. And, at AAPEX in November, they were recognized for it.

The Automotive Warehouse Distributors Association (AWDA) presented the 2008 Art Fisher Memorial Scholarship Award to former Bosch exec and current GAAS Chairman David Caracci in recognition of his ongoing commitment to education through involvement in the University of the Aftermarket and Global Automotive Aftermarket Symposium (GAAS).

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The award is presented annually to an aftermarket company or individual who demonstrates outstanding commitment to education and training. Given in memory of former AWDA chairman Art Fisher, the award grants substantial scholarships in the name of the award winner to two students enrolled in the automotive aftermarket management program at Northwood University.

Robert Egan, vice president, North America – Global Aftermarket for Federal-Mogul Corp. was named the 2008 recipient of the AWDA Leader of the Year Award. Each year, AWDA bestows this prestigious award on an aftermarket professional who has contributed to the industry in a unique and significant way. Richard Morgan, president and CEO of Aftermarket Auto Parts Alliance, was presented with the Martin Fromm Lifetime Achievement Award by AWDA.

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This very selective award recognizes individuals who, over the course of many years, have distinguished themselves through their commitment to, and high level of performance within, the motor vehicle aftermarket. Recipients of this award are considered to be "backbones" of the industry. And, Dennis Welvaert, president of the North American Aftermarket Division of Dayco Products LLC., based in Tulsa, Okla., was honored with the AWDA 2008 Pursuit of Excellence Award. Established in 1983, this award is given annually to a member of AWDA in recognition of excellence in business performance and support for AWDA and its ideals.

7) Mort Schwartz – Dubbed “the automotive aftermarket’s greatest ambassador,” Mort Schwartz, founder of the Global Automotive Aftermarket Symposium (GAAS), was in 2008 given the ultimate industry recognition. Honored with nearly every aftermarket award ever created, this past year Schwartz was inducted in the Automotive Hall of Fame in recognition of his dedication to the industry.

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Schwartz’s 40-year career includes directorships and chairmanships of several major industry organizations including the Automotive Parts and Accessories Association, the Automotive Warehouse Distributors Association and the California Automotive Wholesalers Association. Schwartz currently serves on the board of directors of WORLDPAC, a major aftermarket parts distributor, is a consultant to General Parts Inc., and serves as a Trustee of the University of the Aftermarket Foundation.
 
8) NASTF – First established as a voluntary organization nine years ago, the National Automotive Service Task Force (NASTF) has come a long way in less than a decade. Since being officially incorporated as a 501(c)-6 organization in 2006, NASTF has made great strides to develop an official set of standards for opening dialogue and clarifying any issues for technicians acquiring service and repair information from automakers.

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The task force’s most recent accomplishments include getting 13 automotive manufacturers to sign the National Automotive Service Task Force (NASTF) Service Information Standards Agreement, established in November 2008. The standards consist of three parts: definitions; automotive service information standards; and an information request and resolution process. While much of the standards embody the practices that have been in place for more than six years, a binding arbitration backstop included in the NASTF Dispute Resolution Process has been added.

In addition, after three years of work, NASTF in 2008 announced that the Secure Data Release Model (SDRM), which allows properly vetted technicians and security professionals to access key codes, immobilizer PINs and other security-related information, had been released to the industry.
 
9) The U.S. Government – After weeks of warnings that the Detroit 3 were on the verge of an all out collapse, in the 11th hour, Washington came through for the auto industry. In early December, the House approved a measure to provide $14 billion in loans to the Detroit 3 automakers, GM, Chrysler and Ford. The bill was passed by a vote of 237-170.

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However, the bill failed in the Senate by a vote of 52-35. The bill failed after talks broke down over the refusal of the United Auto Workers union to meet Republican demands for aggressive wage reductions. General Motors Corp. and Chrysler said they could run out of cash within weeks, after the bill was rejected. Both parties called for the Bush administration to tap into the $700 billion T.A.R.P. funds that were being used to fund the rescue of the financial industry.

On Dec. 19, the Bush administration announced it would give General Motors and Chrysler $17.4 billion in loans from the T.A.R.P. funds. According to reports, $13.4 billion will be available immediately to the automakers and $4 billion will be made available in February, assuming the Obama administration draws down the second half of the bailout funds. As was the case with the proposed legislation that did not pass, if the government does not feel the automakers have made enough progress in their turnaround by March 31, the loans can be recalled.

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