Well, the choice has been made. The editors of Counterman magazine received a mountain of entries for the 2008 Counter Professional of the Year, presented by Affinia. After much deliberation and sifting through all the entries, Craig Bradley, of NAPA in Lansing, Mich., was chosen as the recipient of this year’s award. Craig and his wife will be flying to Las Vegas to attend the Automotive Aftermarket Product Expo (AAPEX) in Las Vegas, as well as receive his award in front of his peers. Craig’s been in the business for more than 30 years and is a shining example of what it means to be a counter professional.
As I said in my column before, choosing the Counter Professional of the Year is no small task. That’s because of what the recognition the award represents: We’re choosing to highlight the unsung heroes of the industry, the same people who are sometimes blamed when something might go wrong, but somehow never get the credit when everything falls perfectly into place. These individuals aren’t typically ones who seek out recognition. But once a year, we ask them to raise their hands, tell their stories and implore them to discuss why they deserve this award. For some people, that’s not as easy thing to do.
For some entrants, someone else nominated them. And that speaks highly of both the nominee and the person doing the nominating. It says that not only is someone doing a great job but someone else is recognizing it. I learned several things while taking part in the selection process this year. First, there are a lot of people doing great work. Second, I’ve worked around and in several industries and I’ve yet to find an industry like the aftermarket, where the people involved have such a vested interest in the industry they serve. To those who weren’t awarded the 2008 Counter Professional of the Year, I want to thank you for taking the time to submit your story and ask that you to submit your nomination again next year. There’s a lot of talent out there. And though we recognize one recipient each year, you all should be very proud of your accomplishments.
Let it be known: After spending nearly six days with complete strangers, and after eating breakfast, lunch and dinner with them every day, you won’t forget them as long as you live. I had the privilege of attending the University of the Aftermarket’s Leadership 2.0 program at Northwood University in Midland, Mich., in mid-September.
I came away from the first session of Leadership 2.0 the second week-long session is in West Palm Beach, Fla., in April (I’m really taking one for the team here) with not only a deeper understanding of the challenges facing our industry, but a list of 24 friends that I didn’t have before. Now I know why Leadership 2.0 with its small class size sold out weeks before the program began.
Attending Leadership 2.0 were people from a large cross-section of the aftermarket, including distributors, store owners and manufacturers. The program focuses not only on how to better the aftermarket, but how to better ourselves to become the leaders we’d all like to be.
I’ll gladly commit another week to Leadership 2.0. I consider that time an investment in the future. Besides, where else can you make 24 lifelong friends in a week?