Thomas Brissett of Connecticut is used to being recognized for his hard work. After all, he already has been named the NAPA Connecticut 2015 and 2016 ASE Parts Professional of the Year. He is the 2017 Counter Professional of the Year, sponsored by WIX Filters.
“I feel that I exemplify what it takes to be the Counter Professional of the Year, because I truly believe in one philosophy — every customer counts,” Brissett wrote in his nomination form. “I don’t care if you are in my store to purchase a nut or a complete engine, you will get the same treatment that every customer deserves — top-notch, professional, polite and most of all, I want the customers to come back because they had a great experience and because they know I gave them my very best,” Brissett wrote. He credits NAPA’s extensive online training opportunities with helping him stay ahead of the curve.
“The first step in continuing to improve is to accept the fact that this career path is an everyday learning experience,” Brissett wrote. “Nobody knows everything, and there is always room for improvement. The more you know the better you will be.”
Brissett is extensively involved in his community, coaching youth hockey for many years and also serving as an assistant coach for high school hockey, football and lacrosse in his local school district.
What strides has Brissett made to better himself as a parts professional?
“The first step in continuing to improve is to accept the fact that this career path is an everyday learning experience,” Brissett says. “Nobody knows everything, and there is always room for improvement. The more you know the better you will be.”
The other major activity Brissett uses to better himself is training. NAPA offers extensive online training, which Brissett has taken full advantage of. Brissett has been heavily involved in athletics, coaching youth hockey from 2001-2011, as well as being involved in other ways in his community. He also coached football and lacrosse for the Housatonic Valley Regional High School in Falls Village, Conn.
What is one of the challenges facing parts professionals today? “The ever-changing automobile,” said Brissett. “Every day, every year, the run-of-the-mill automobile is becoming more and more complex. Therefore, the knowledge of how the newer cars work is ever-changing. We all need to be ready for changes.”
Brissett’s path to the aftermarket wasn’t always clear. He originally wanted to become a broadcast journalist. But when his father, who worked at Navistar/IHC dealerships all his life, took him to a newly opened NAPA store in 1982, he was put to work alongside his dad. “On the first day I learned to mix paint, use the catalogs as well as the price sheets, and even made deliveries on foot as I did not have a driver’s license,” he said. “I got bit by the automotive aftermarket bug so by my 17th birthday, I got my first ‘toy’ car, and I never wanted to stop. The best part of this industry is the people.”
“Training is priceless,” Brissett said. “This industry is ever-changing, evolving and growing. As parts professionals, we need to stay on top of these changes. Training — (whether) online, in the classroom, NAPA or ASE — is a must to being a successful parts professional. The more you learn, absorb and retain, the stronger you will be.”
Brissett encourages younger people to join this industry because it offers them a variety of opportunities. “For example, we have a young individual who graduated from a local trade school from the auto shop as a mechanic. The first offer she took involved a lot of heavy lifting and not a lot of mechanical work. So with the aspect of not having a job as a technician available, she approached us to see if something was open as a counter professional. She started training right away and now almost a year later, she didn’t like the counter, but is now part of the inventory control team. The industry has many openings available to everyone, that is willing to grow with the company.”