Article > Opinion

More on What's Wrong


Read this month's letters to the editor.

You wrote an excellent piece on vocational schools and the lack of support they get from the aftermarket (Editor’s Ink, March). You hit it dead-on.

As a society, we have devalued “the trades” and appreciate only those who go after a college education or those who are entrepreneurs — and make lots of money!


I applaud Editor Brian Cruickshank’s March column, What’s Wrong? Our executive director, Barbara Crest, is now in the midst of fighting for education and training in the automotive aftermarket at the junior and high-school levels in Oregon. She continuously goes to our state capital in Salem to draw attention to this matter. Many of our teens would love the opportunity to be trained in the junior- and senior-high schools so that when they graduate, they will have a bright future. The number of children in our education system that just drop out or don’t continue in school is alarming. Let’s allow them to do something where they can enjoy, learn and make a living!

The Northwest Automotive Trades Association (NATA) is an association for anyone connected to the automotive industry. We have tow companies, repair shops, collision shops, automotive jobbers and warehouse distributors and mechanics, yet we constantly hear that our members can’t find good help. NATA became involved in this because of the complaints from our members about the lack of new, educated employees in our industry.

Cathi Webb
Member Services Coordinator
Northwest Automotive Trades Assn.
Portland, OR

With reference to Brian Cruickshank’s column in the March issue, I applaud him for his commentary on “What’s wrong with the aftermarket?” However, I must remind readers that Northwood University has offered an Aftermarket Management Program since 1970 and we continue to expand this curriculum in both the automotive and heavy-duty markets. In March, 2007, we broke ground on the Sloan Family Building for Aftermarket Studies on our Midland, MI, campus.
We are proud to serve the aftermarket and we will continue to expand and strengthen our educational efforts into this dynamic industry. In addition, Counterman’s parent company, Babcox Publications, has been and continues to be a strong partner of our educational program.

Jim John
Chair, Aftermarket Management Department
Northwood University
Midland, MI

This topic really struck a nerve with many people in the aftermarket, and I appreciate everyone who called, wrote or commented to me in person regarding this important industry issue. Some felt I was “right on” while others thought I was being too critical of the industry’s efforts. I was reminded of that at last month’s Global Automotive Aftermaket Symposium, which has provided more than $1 million in scholarships over the last dozen years.

Of the feedback I’ve gotten, none comes from a more dedicated source than Felt Auto Parts’ Steve Hoellein of Ogden, UT. He is one of the most progressive and active education advocates in the entire industry and no one speaks with more authority on grassroots industry recruitment. A guest column penned by Steve regarding industry education can be found in under "Feature Articles."

— Ed.

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