Article > Opinion

Tough Decisions

By Jon S. Owens

Choosing the winner from among all the great nominations we received for Counter Professional of the Year, Presented by WIX Filters was sometimes an impossible task. We did narrow our decision down to one person, but let's take a look at the other terrific nominees.

Each year I’m amazed by the quality of our Counter Professional of the Year, Presented by WIX Filters, candidates. This year was no exception. Yet again, this year exceeded prior years in terms of the quantity (and quality) of nominations we received. And, as usual, I was overwhelmed by their character and dedication to their beloved profession.

Choosing the winner from among all the great nominations we received was sometimes an impossible task. So you have an appreciation for how difficult our decision was, consider these terrific nominees:

There’s Peggy Ann Morgan who works at a Bumper to Bumper store in Lindale, TX. She’s been on the counter for 15 years and was nominated by her boss for her never-ending commitment to customer service. Michael Moyer, co-owner of a Parts Plus store in St. Clair, PA, was nominated by his wife (and store co-owner), who, after a stint at the counter realized how stressful and challenging the job really was. As a result of her newfound appreciation, she nominated her husband. A great story!

Our friend Bob Joynt at Auto-Wares in Grand Rapids, MI, nominated Terry Van Alstine, a store manager for one of the group’s company-owned Auto Value stores in Bellaire, MI. Terry conducts store management training for Auto-Wares, has worked in the parts business for more than 25 years, restores classic cars and is the local Boy Scout Troop Leader. In his “spare” time, he manages his own store and works the counter.

Representing the younger generation is Jade Lange, called the “walking car encyclopedia” by his colleagues at Dakota Auto Parts in Sioux Falls, SD. Jade has been on the counter for 11 years and is known as “Cool Hand Luke” at his store, where he’s been the top salesperson each and every month since the store opened in 2000!

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Angelina Kettman who works the counter at Advance Auto Parts in Greenville, NC. Angelina is a former beauty pageant contestant who dreamed of becoming a broadcast news reporter. Then one day her car broke down and her subsequent repair experience terrified her enough to ignite a complete career change. Upon being “completely taken advantage of” by the mechanic who worked on her car, and being so frustrated by her own lack of vehicle knowledge, Angelina embarked on a career in the auto parts industry She’s now an ASE Certified counter pro. In her own words, though she “may not look like the ‘typical’ counter pro” she has proven that, no matter what your background or experience, through hard work and dedication anyone can overcome “vehicle ignorance and become a valuable asset to this industry.” To that I say ‘Amen!’

From our broad cadre of nominations, the selection committee staff had the tough task of choosing this year’s winner, Harris Steinberg, who somehow managed to set himself apart from these awesome individuals.

A feature article about Steinberg will appear in the December issue. He and his family will join the Counterman staff in Las Vegas at the end of this month to attend Automotive Aftermarket Industry Week.

Counterman has been honoring the profession with this award for the past 20 years, and we congratulate not only the winners, past and present, but also each and every professional who makes his or her living in the parts distribution business.

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