The early bird catches the worm, as the old saying goes. So, on my first day at AAPEX 2019 in Las Vegas, I thought I’d get up early and run a few miles on the treadmill. It’s a great way to start the day, especially when you know you have a long day ahead of you (which I very much did).
As I was leaving the hotel fitness center, I noticed someone familiar on an exercise bike: Pete Chapman, our 2019 Counter Professional of the Year.
Pete is the store manager at Car Parts Warehouse in Warrensville Heights, Ohio. Because Counterman is a national magazine, I usually don’t get to meet the Counter Pro of the Year until the AAPEX show, where we formally announce the winner at the WIX Filters and Babcox Media Night of Excellence. But Pete happens to work right in our backyard – in Northeast Ohio, where Babcox Media’s headquarters are located – so I got the opportunity to spend some time with him in September.
When I first walked into the store, Pete was on the phone with a customer. It didn’t take long for me to realize that this is a constant occurrence. Throughout our interview, Pete’s cellphone was buzzing. Each time it buzzed, the name of a different repair shop would flash on the screen. “My cellphone is my biggest producer,” Pete joked.
It only took about five minutes in a conference room with Pete before I had an overwhelming urge to buy something from him. Pete has a gift for making people feel comfortable and at ease, and that’s critical in this business. Often, when customers come to you, they’re in a state of stress. Nobody likes spending extra money on their vehicle when something is broken or malfunctioning.
Consequently, Pete’s first order of business is to make the customer feel comfortable. But he backs it up with his years of experience, his automotive knowledge and his desire to help every customer find the right part at the right price for them.
Pete is the No. 1 sales associate in the Car Parts Warehouse family of more than 125 counter associates, and he is the manager of Car Parts Warehouse’s busiest location. His success hasn’t happened by accident. He often is the first person to show up and the last person to leave. His colleagues describe him as “dedicated,” “customer-driven,” “patient,” “committed to success,” “meticulous” and “professional 120% of the time.”
When I first met Pete in September, he mentioned that he starts each day with a workout. His co-workers confided that he never sits down. So I shouldn’t have been surprised to bump into him at the fitness center, first thing in the morning, during AAPEX. In the December issue of AMN/Counterman, you’ll get to learn a lot more about what makes him tick, and why we chose him for this honor. For now, please join me in congratulating Pete Chapman as our 2019 Counter Professional of the Year.