By Mary DellaValle
Automotive Parts Associates’ (APA) 33rd Annual Shareholders’ & Manufacturers’ Conference, held March 20-22 in Houston, Texas, kicked off in typical upbeat fashion with 307 attendees taking part in networking and information sessions galore, despite undertones of sadness in bidding farewell to the group’s longstanding and beloved president, Dan Freeman.
The Friday morning breakfast meeting opened with a heartfelt video debut that commemorated Freeman’s 25 years with APA and sent best wishes for his well-deserved retirement that began on March 1. With a standing ovation, attendees applauded and thanked Dan (and wife Judy) for his dedication, intellect and hard work that helped foster APA’s growth, tripling membership and elevating its position as a top-tier group within the industry.
The breakfast meeting also served as a venue to acknowledge five APA vendors for their significant contributions to the group with these awards:
Headquarters Manufacturer of Choice: Bosch;
Marketing Partner Award: Federal-Mogul;
Professionals’ Choice Vendor of the Year: AMS;
Branded Manufacturer of the Year: DENSO;
Largest Total Manufacturers Orders at the 2013 One-on-Ones: UCI-FRAM Group.
Three new APA members also were recognized Hawaii Import Parts Inc., Titan Motorsports Inc., and Dennis’ Auto Parts.
Later that day, 67 shareholder members and 75 APA manufacturers took part in the Manufacturer One-on-Ones. The well-attended sessions provided the opportunity to discuss business-related issues, learn about new products and programs and take advantage of great show specials being offered by the APA vendors. Thousands of dollars and gift items were given as door prizes throughout the day. Friday evening, attendees enjoyed a Texas Ranch BBQ dinner party, complete with wagon rides, historic home tours and live longhorn steer photo opportunities.
General Session, Saturday Morning
The group reconvened on Saturday morning for a general session that kicked off with opening comments by new APA President Gary Martin, and the announcement of newly elected board members, including Ben Yelowitz, POJA Warehouse, as the new chairman. Caprice Caster, APA director of events and promotions, provided program updates and recapped upcoming promotions, and announced the results of Thursday’s Golf Tournament.
Presenters Scott Luckett, AAIA COO and director of the Aftermarket Telematics Task Force, and Malcolm Sissmore, Delphi’s North America sales director, telematics, discussed the telematics’ threats to the aftermarket, as well as the service opportunities. Sissmore introduced Delphi’s wireless communication tool that allows companies to “talk” with customers through a device that’s installed on-vehicle.
Next, three APA shareholder members participated in a Building Your Business panel. Mike Maloof, president, World Auto Parts, Cleveland, Ohio, provided unique insights on how to build sales and profits, and how to best take care of your customers and employees. Mike Brown, president and CEO of Olympus Imported Auto Parts, Alexandria, Va., shared how he built his business and retained great employees in the face of strong competition. Robert Duxler and David Wistosky, A.I.M.S., Simi Valley, Calif., shared their story on business succession.
Save the date for next year’s conference, slated for March 19-21, 2015, at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza, Los Angeles, Calif.
By Mary DellaValle