Every so often, our editorial staff selects one aftermarket industry professional to get to know a little better. Participants are asked to respond to a series of questions that can be answered in about the same amount of time you might spend chatting at the office coffee pot or waiting for an elevator.
In this installment of “5 Minutes With,” we learn something new about industry veteran Bill Long, president and CEO of the Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association (MEMA).
What was your first job in the industry?
I took a summer job following high school as a parts delivery driver for Ferrara Spring & Parts, a large NAPA Auto Parts group in Massachusetts. I continued at Ferrara’s through college, working between classes and nights, becoming a store manager during that time.
What do you like best about your current position?
Developing strategies and solutions to advance the industry and the business interests of MEMA members, especially in the wake of the strategic shifts and legislative/regulatory headwinds we are facing.
Did you initially intend to pursue a career in the aftermarket? If not, what drew you to the industry and what keeps you here?
I had my eyes set on engineering and motorsports. My father was a quality-control expert working for the Defense Department while also serving as a NASCAR official for over 25 years. The move that cemented my career in the industry was accepting a job working for Echlin Inc. as a sales representative calling on NAPA jobbers in upstate New York. Following 25 years at Echlin, I left the industry to finally pursue a full-time roll as an executive with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and vice president of marketing for the IndyCar Series. But what brought me back to the industry was the people and a genuine love for the business. I’ve found the aftermarket to be very unique in the strength, quality and shear number of the lasting friendships developed here. It’s an enjoyable, and often inspiring, industry to be a part of.
What do you do when not at work?
At age 16, I flagged my first NASCAR race and ever since then, I’ve been moonlighting on weekends in one form or another (race director, chief starter, etc). Currently, I serve as vice president of racing operations at Stafford Motor Speedway, a local short track owned by the Arute Family. (Jack Arute is a former ABC/ESPN commentator). Like father … like son.
What one word best sums up your personality?
What was your first NEW car?
1972 Ford Pinto.
Do you have a hidden talent?
You can often find me at a piano or working on a stained-glass project…I created this one from a photo I took of our 6-year-old grandson.
1). Seek first to understand before being understood.
2). It’s amazing what you can achieve when you don’t care who gets the credit.