From first jobs crashing a NAPA delivery vehicle to today leading the nation’s top association for motor and equipment suppliers, Bill Long says he really got his start in this industry on the “ground floor.”
“The Monday after I graduated from high school, I was working at a NAPA Auto Parts store in Massachusetts as a delivery driver. I did such a good job in crashing the company delivery vehicle that I was promoted to the machine shop and then to the counter and then managed a store and I did all of that while going to college between courses.
“Eventually that led to a factory job in the Brake Parts division at Echlin, where he spent 25 years and stayed with the company through 2001 and a merger with Dana,” Long shared. Long left the supplier side to become part of the industry trade association world. He joined MEMA in 2012 to lead its AASA division before taking the top spot as MEMA president and CEO in February 2019. In between everything, he’s had a passion for and spent some of his career in racing as well.
Long started going to races when he was 4 with his dad who was a NASCAR official. Long himself spent time as a chief starter, a race control director and other roles in racing, which led to jobs at NASCAR in Daytona Beach, and the IndyCar series, where he spent 5 seasons at IMS. About working in racing, Long said “There’s a lot to be learned and a lot of challenges and many of them are transferrable to this industry.”
Regardless of the role, Long is known for his calm and affable demeanor. Perhaps it can be attributed to one of the key mantras passed down by mentors, which he shared on “AMN Drivetime“: “Seek first to understand before being understood.”
Be sure to check out the full podcast here to learn more about Long’s remarkable career.