I wish, just once, that each reader of Counterman could sit in on the selection process for the Counter Professional of the Year award, presented by Affinia. Just once.
I know that’s an improbable scenario. We keep the deliberations secret on purpose — it protects us, the selection committee, the nominees and the winner. Trust me, there’s a lot of jockeying that goes on in the market, with some pretty important people lobbying on behalf of certain candidates. And that’s a good thing, from where I sit. It speaks to the importance of the award, one that this magazine has been bestowing on the distribution profession for the last 21 years.
But if you could sit in on the deliberations, read through the nominations and see the caliber of your colleagues, you would be pretty darn proud of your chosen profession. You would find people from all walks of life, from every corner of the industry, working to better themselves, the industry, their customers, their businesses and their communities. You’d see professionals dedicated to the success of their wholesale customers, many of whom rely exclusively on these parts pros to make the kinds of branding and product decisions on which their service businesses are built. You’d see professionals who go well beyond the call of duty to help. These are the folks that every distributor, manufacturer and service dealer could never live without. They are the backbone of the industry. Not much gets sold, serviced or repaired without their input or advice, built on years of experience.
Regarding the Counter Professional of the Year award, there’s a lot at stake here. First of all, the winner and a guest receive an all-expenses paid trip to Las Vegas to attend Automotive Aftermarket Industry Week, which will be held this year from Oct. 29 through Nov. 2. During Industry Week, the winner is showered with accolades and gets to rub elbows with professionals from every level of the industry, from technicians to warehouse owners to manufacturer reps to industry CEOs. It’s a real whirlwind of a week and is an experience that none of the past 20 winners will soon forget.
All this comes with a certain amount of responsibility, however: The Counter Professional of the Year represents you and your entire profession. When this year’s winner, Scott Flowers from an Auto Supply Co. store in Hickory, NC, gets up on that stage in Las Vegas on Oct. 29 to receive his award from Counterman Editor Brian Cruickshank, he’s accepting it on behalf of each and every distribution professional in the market. During his acceptance speech, Scott will need to choose his words carefully, for he is speaking not only for himself, but for you, your customers, your warehouses, your families and businesses. After all, every successful store has a potential Counter Professional of the Year candidate. Great stores couldn’t survive without them: They are the ones customers keep asking for when they call or walk in; they are the ones who can recite a thousand part numbers by heart; they know when to ignore the catalog because it’s wrong, and they know how to find even the most obscure auto parts.
We’re looking forward to hosting Scott in Las Vegas at the end of the month, and you should be proud to have him represent you. Your profession deserves no less.