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A Question & A Challenge

By Jimsey Keith

This month includes an exclusive column on the importance of training and strategic networking from the University of the Aftermarket’s Jimsey Keith.

Take a quick look around your store. See the photo copier? The technician who services that machine is probably required to pursue continuing education in order to maintain manufacturer certification.

Pick up one of your business forms — chances are your forms and paper representative has achieved a “CDC” (Certified Document Consultant) designation through continuing education. Even your janitorial services provider might be certified to International Janitorial Cleaning Services Association standards, which require continuing education in everything from business math to employee relations.

Continuing education isn’t new. In fact, each year thousands of organizations of all sizes invest in employee education to help enhance their competitive position and advance the mission of their industries.

Is there a similar need in the automotive aftermarket? Absolutely. Are we keeping pace with other industries through a far-reaching commitment to continuing education? No, we’re not.

The aftermarket plays an integral role in the global economy. Moreover, in an age when technology is transforming many industries, it is making our unique ability to serve the consumer more valuable than ever before. Yet, the current and next generation of aftermarket entrepreneurs and managers face a daunting set of challenges, from achieving a low-cost competitive position to gaining access to affordable capital. Solutions to each of these challenges exist, in part, through a commitment to learning.

Margins are tight. You time is even tighter. In spite of these excuses, wouldn’t it be smart to challenge yourself with new ideas and to explore innovative business strategies through an investment in industry-specific education? Or, rather, how can you afford not to equip yourself and your associates with the new tools needed to grow an aftermarket enterprise?

If you’re doing an adequate job today, let’s think about tomorrow. Most agree that the aftermarket’s future depends on our ability to attract a new generation of technicians and shop owners. But we also need to attract thousands of new engineers, product managers, marketing and sales professionals, distributors, jobbers, and others who will design, manufacture, stock, and sell the parts needed to maintain tomorrow’s vehicles. To do this, we must position the aftermarket as an exciting, vital and well-paying industry. A commitment to industry education will help us answer this challenge.

Change isn’t easy or convenient, but it’s my job as director of the University of the Aftermarket to simplify your access to training, strategic networking and other forms of education that will help drive change by enabling competitive leadership.

We’ve made our programs far more convenient, with a growing range of online and self-study courses as well as workshops offered around the country. We deliver impressive results in the form of important new skills, increased market insight and improved employee loyalty. And participation in the University is personally rewarding through respected industry designations such as Automotive Aftermarket Professional (AAP) and Master Automotive Aftermarket Professional.
The title of this column is “A Question And A Challenge.” In truth, they’re one and the same: Are you ready to lead your company and this great industry forward?
If so, we have a seat waiting for you.

Jimsey Keith is director of the University of the Aftermarket. University curriculum information is available online at, or by calling 800-551-2882.

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