Article > Opinion

You Get Out Of It What You Put Into It

By Mark Phillips

Mark Phillips

December seems like a long way off, but it’s not really, especially if you have to sift through hundreds of applications for Counterman’s annual Counter Professional of the Year award, which is presented by Affinia.

Each year, the staff of Counterman magazine and aftermarketNews carefully study a myriad of entries to select the CPOTY (that’s the acronym we use in the office) and the top five finalists. It’s a duty we don’t take lightly, and it’s an enjoyable one: We get to review applications from the best and brightest in the industry, all of whom desire to be recognized as, well, the best and brightest in the industry.

The program culminates with an awards ceremony during the Automotive Aftermarket Products Expo (AAPEX) in Las Vegas, which will be held Nov. 4-6. And the winner will be featured in the cover story that appears in the December issue of Counterman. The top five finalists also get a nod in the magazine.

Please don’t let the name of the award fool you. Counter Professional of the Year is open to applicants who are counter professionals, warehouse employees, or independent jobbers.

We’re not necessarily looking for someone who has simply been in the industry a long time. Those who have established themselves in the industry in even a short amount of time and have made a difference should consider applying.

You’ll find the call for entries on page 17 of this magazine. And remember, if you don’t happen to garner the Counter Professional of the Year award, take consolation in one thing: This is a quality industry filled with quality people and it’s a testament to the industry as a whole that so many people would be deserving of this coveted award.


I had the privilege of attending the dedication of the Sloan Family Building for Aftermarket Studies at Northwood University in Midland, Mich., on May 8. I’m a sucker for shiny, new buildings and while touring the campus and the new Sloan Family Building, something struck me: This place is a magnet. In trying to think of another school where an industry is as dedicated to educating future leaders as the aftermarket and Northwood University are, I came up blank. The word is getting out there, I can assure you. I met a senior from Quebec City, Canada, named Melanie Desharnais. She explained to me that her family back home is involved in the aftermarket. Back when Melanie was deciding where to attend college, her sister told her five golden words: “Go straight to Northwood University.” Upon hearing that phrase, it confirmed the feeling I got on the tour. This place really IS a magnet. The good work that the industry does, combined with that of the faculty, staff and students at Northwood University has helped shaped this senior into a poised professional who is ready to enter this business and place the bar higher than it was before.

I think of the old adage, “You get out of it what you put into it.” So many industries gripe and complain about the quality of people they have coming into their workforce. But seldom do those industries actually do anything about it. Instead, the aftermarket is actively taking the bull by the horns and ensuring it will survive in the future. I’d encourage anyone who wants to be a leader in the aftermarket to, “Go straight to Northwood University.”

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