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Northwood University Names Michael Kinney Automotive Chair

Northwood University announced that aftermarket veteran Michael Kinney has been named automotive industry chair. 

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The appointment, effective Aug. 16, is the university’s first industry-chair appointment and allows the chair to remain employed in the industry.  

Kinney’s primary responsibilities will include leading the academic content and quality of the Automotive Aftermarket Management program, which covers all aspects of the automotive replacement parts industry, including performance, off-road and heavy-duty. Additionally, he will work to promote and grow all of Northwood University’s automotive-related programs. 

Kinney said he finds inspiration in the Northwood students he has taught as an adjunct professor over the past year.

“I’m truly inspired by the Northwood students I’ve met – they love the aftermarket as much as I do,” Kinney added. “I look forward to helping Northwood strengthen the aftermarket program through our amazing alumni network and deep industry connections.” 

“We are fortunate to have Michael joining us as industry chair,” Academic Vice President Kristin Stehouwer said. “He brings a tremendous amount of industry experience to the program and that brings our program alive for our students. These industry connections are a hallmark of a Northwood education.” 

Kinney is the director of the Global Sales Division of Autopart International, a wholly owned subsidiary of Advance Auto Parts. He grew up in the aftermarket, working for his family’s offshore manufacturing business in Taipei, Taiwan, and Columbus, Ohio. Kinney also is a proud Northwood alumnus, having competed both his undergraduate and MBA degrees at the university. 

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“At the 1988 AAPEX Show, I was introduced to the legendary aftermarket professor John Castle,” said Kinney. “He recruited me to the university and changed my life by introducing me to the Northwood Idea. I’ll do my best to live up to what he, Dr. Stauffer, Dr. Turner and so many other great educators have meant to this university and to the aftermarket program.”

Kinney attended Northwood on the Midland campus from 1988 to 1993 and was an active member of the automotive aftermarket fraternity Alpha Rho Mu and the university’s NCAA Division II men’s lacrosse team before starting his aftermarket career with the Echlin Manufacturing Co. Kinney also served as a key account manager for Rubber Queen Floor Mats, VP of sales and marketing for Electra Accessories and Jerrico Industries as well as a director of heavy-duty distribution for Noregon Systems before joining Associated Equipment. 

“I would like to thank Northwood’s leadership for this incredible appointment that allows me to give back to my university and industry,” he said. “Northwood has afforded me so many opportunities over my career and I am extremely honored to be in a position to help the university’s aftermarket program. I also want to thank Autopart International Senior Vice President Rich Jolivet, who has allowed me to thrive and grow in my current role, but who has also encouraged me to give back to the future leaders of the aftermarket.”

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The half-time position does not require a teaching load, but allows the industry chair to teach as an adjunct. Kinney will be teaching two classes this fall, in addition to his chair responsibilities. Kinney and his wife, Julie, reside in Midland, Michigan, with their three children, Cole, Alexandra and Cooper.

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