Article > Feature Story

The Top 10 News Makers of 2006

By Amy Antenora

For the third year in a row, the editorial staffs of aftermarketNews and Counterman magazine have selected 10 individuals who have made an impact on the industry this past year.

For the third year in a row, the editorial staffs of aftermarketNews and Counterman magazine have selected 10 individuals who have made an impact on the industry this past year. The list is presented in alphabetical order.

Having been with the company for just about a year, Jose Maria Alapont, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Federal-Mogul, is charged with a critical task — leading the global aftermarket supplier out of Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

Alapont joined Federal-Mogul in early 2005. Prior to that, he served as CEO of IVECO, the commercial vehicle division of the Fiat Group. In the past 18 months, he has been simultaneously leading the company out of Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection while also forging the future of the company.

The company, which has been going through bankruptcy proceedings for more than four years, is nearing the end of the process, Alapont told Counterman in a recent exclusive interview. In November of this year, a U.K. court issued an order discharging the company’s administration in the U.K. (the U.K. equivalent of U.S. Chapter 11). Alapont said the company is now focused on the final stages of the process of emerging from Chapter 11 here in the States. Federal-Mogul’s Plan of Reorganization and Disclosure Statement were filed on November 21 with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

In September, Willi Alexander was promoted to chief executive officer of Parts Depot, Inc. (PDI). Alexander has been with PDI for almost 15 years and has served as president and chief operating officer for the past eight. He will continue to serve as president in addition to his new duties as CEO.

In a statement announcing Alexander’s promotion, Rollie Olson, chairman of PDI, recognized Alexander’s contributions to the company’s success.

“He’s been instrumental in assembling a strong and experienced executive team that is fully capable of taking Parts Depot to the next level,” said Olson. “I’m proud of the achievements of our company over the past years. We’ve more than tripled our revenues and almost quadrupled earnings since 2000. Under Willi’s leadership we expect to see continued growth and success.”
In May, Alexander accepted the Polk Inventory Management Award in the Distributor Category on behalf of the Roanoke, VA-based distribution company.

If you’ve been thinking something seems vaguely familiar about the top management line-up at Affinia Group Inc, you are right. Just two years after spinning off from Dana Corp., Affinia Group Inc., has spent this year undergoing restructuring efforts, including reorganizing its top management team.

Many of the key players who made up the Dana Automotive Aftermarket Group’s (AAG) top brass are now leading Affinia. Terry McCormack, who led Dana AAG, serves as president and CEO of Affinia. John Washbish, former president of customer relationship management for Dana AAG, holds the same post at Affinia. Jerry McCabe, Dana AAG’s former vice president of marketing for the Under Hood Group, was promoted to the position of vice president, communications and marketing services just prior to Affinia taking over ownership of the company. All three execs have been with Affinia since the beginning. Now, their original crew has been rounded out by the addition of Terry Shively, who joined the company in September. Shively served as vice president and general manager for Clevite Engine Parts (a former Dana AAG brand) and is now vice president for strategic market development for Affinia Group, Inc.

Affinia also made some strong new additions to its marketing team this year with the appointment of Jeff Stauffer, former vice president of marketing for the consumer products division of Old World Industries, to senior VP global group marketing; and Bruce Reau to serve as vice president of category management for Affinia’s Under Vehicle Group. Prior to joining Affinia, Reau served as president of Pioneer Inc., a supplier of engine and driveline products.

Next time you wonder what kind of impact a single individual can make, consider Dave Caracci.
Former chairman of the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association (AAIA) and recently named chairman of the University of the Aftermarket Foundation, Caracci has more than 30 years invested in the automotive aftermarket. A passionate industry leader and automotive enthusiast, Caracci has held positions within Dana Corp., KSG Industries, ROL Manufacturing of America and Robert Bosch Corp. Caracci is also a graduate of Northwood University.

During his tenure as chairman of AAIA, Caracci assisted with the integration of the Automotive Warehouse Distributors Association (AWDA) into AAIA. He also played a role in the creation of the association’s new Car Care Professionals Network (CCPN). (You can read more about CCPN in the section about Mitch Schneider.)

In addition, in March, Caracci and his wife Mary pledged $50,000 to the University of the Aftermarket Foundation in memory of Marilyn Schwartz, the late wife of Jarmms Associates’ Mort Schwartz, past chairman of AWDA.

This year, Dr. David Fry, then president and CEO of Northwood University, announced he would retire on August 30. Having served in the role for 24 years, Fry was only the second president in the history of the university. In honor of his lifetime of dedication to the industry, Fry was presented with the AWDA Leader of the Year award during the 2006 AWDA conference. He will remain as president emeritus of Northwood.

In September, Keith Pretty was installed as the new president of Northwood. Replacing Fry, Pretty becomes only the third president in the university’s 47-year history. Pretty previously served as president and chief executive officer of Walsh College, a business school located in Troy, MI. While at Walsh College he was credited with having significantly increased enrollment and contributions to support scholarships while also creating greater efficiencies from reorganized functions. He led accreditation efforts and implemented new degree programs for the college.

Following steady reports of financial troubles at one of the country’s largest tiremakers, Tom Dattilo resigned from his post as chairman, president and CEO of Cooper Tire & Rubber in August, the same morning that Cooper announced a first half 2006 net loss of $26 million against sales of $1.2 billion, which were up 19 percent vs. the same period last year.

In mid-December it was announced that Dattilo had been appointed a director of Alberto-Culver Co., a personal care products company responsible for brands such as the VO5 hair-care line. In addition to the position at Alberto-Culver, he also is a director of Harris Corp., a communications and information technology company.

Cooper has yet to name a replacement for Dattilo. Byron Bond has been serving as interim CEO since his departure.

An industry veteran of 30 years, Steve Handschuh was picked to lead the Automotive Aftermarket Suppliers Association (AASA), following the departure of Paul Foley in late 2004. Handschuh was named executive director of AASA and vice president of the Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association (MEMA) in February.

Handschuh began his career at Mighty Auto Parts where he rose to the position of vice president of sales and marketing. After that, he spent 18 years at NAPA Auto Parts/Genuine Parts Co., and served as president of NAPA from 1998 to 2004. Just prior to joining AASA, Handschuh had been vice president of sales for Orlando, FL-based Hughes Supply’s Maintenance, Repair and Operations (MRO) business.

Handschuh made the Top Ten list in 2004 when it was announced that he left his post as president of NAPA Auto Parts to serve as senior vice president of AutoZone’s AZ Commercial division. In November 2004, Handschuh became an “Executive on Loan” to the Coalition for Auto Repair Equality (CARE), where he helped lobby in support of the Right to Repair bill during the 109th Congress.

Having served nearly a decade as chairman and CEO of CSK Auto, Maynard Jenkins said in September he would step down from his post, following an internal investigation into approximately $90 million in overstatements in its 2005 financial reports.

At the close of the investigation, Jenkins said in a press statement that he was “extremely disappointed by the results of the investigation, and I will work with the board to implement the policies and procedures to assure that the issues identified by the investigation do not recur.”
Jenkins, who has served as chairman and CEO of the Fortune 500 company since 1997, said he will remain available to the company’s board, post-retirement.

Just days after the tragic boating accident that claimed the life of Groupe Michelin Chief Executive and Managing Partner Edouard Michelin, Michel Rollier was asked to step into that role, working quickly to assuage the fears of shocked employees and concerned investors.

Rollier joined Michelin in September 1996 and was named director of the legal department in April 1997. He was named a member of the Michelin Group Executive Council in August 1998 and was appointed CFO on Oct. 1, 1999. In early 2005, Rollier was named co-managing partner. With the retirement of Rene Zingraff earlier in May, Rollier became the company’s only managing partner.

Just prior to AAPEX, it was announced that longtime industry advocate Mitch Schneider had been selected by the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association (AAIA) to direct its new Car Care Professionals Network (CCPN).

Schneider, a fourth generation technician and repair shop owner/operator, is also an award-winning journalist and popular aftermarket trainer. (His column, Mitch’s World, appears monthly in  Counterman.)

Schneider had been hired by AAIA to champion the Car Care Professionals Network, created to represent, support and improve automotive service and repair businesses, by providing a national platform to promote communication and networking between service professionals, manufacturers, distributors and others.

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