|For the first time ever, Counterman magazine and aftermarketNews.com bring you The Top 10 Newsmakers of 2004. Our editorial team took a look at some of this industry’s most influential leaders and selected the 10 we believe had a direct impact on the aftermarket in 2004. Beyond that, we believe these individuals have helped set the stage for an even more productive future for our industry. The following is our list for 2004, in alphabetical order.|
The Men Behind the Future of AWDA:
Richard Beirne, Gary Kremer, Tim Lee, Ron Levene and Fletcher Lord
While numerous individuals have contributed to the overall success of Automotive Warehouse Distributors Association (AWDA) throughout the years, there are five men who deserve credit for envisioning a broad future for the organization fulfilling a theme of collaboration and association efficiency.
Richard Beirne, Gary Kremer, Tim Lee, Ron Levene and Fletcher Lord, all successful businessmen in their own rights, were at the forefront of AWDA leadership as the association began a new phase as part of the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association (AAIA). There were also many influential people who lobbied diligently behind the scenes to assist in the merger.
Last January, the AWDA Board of Governors voted unanimously to propose a merger with the AAIA. This decision was a landmark for AWDA, which was founded in 1947. As the oldest organized group of distributors in the U.S., the association’s numbers dwindled in recent years due to WD consolidations. Yet today, they are as vital as ever thanks to the success of the remaining members, most of whom were responsible for the aforementioned consolidations. The merger with AAIA not only further solidifies the association’s standing going forward, but also gives association members access to AAIA’s extensive resources.
Steve Handschuh – Taking His Distribution Expertise To AutoZone
During his 17 years at NAPA Auto Parts, Steve Handschuh helped solidify NAPA’s dominant position among wholesale distributors. As president of NAPA, Handschuh had his finger on the pulse of the wholesale segment, which is the very reason AutoZone sought to bring him on board.
And so, in January, 2004, AutoZone hired Handschuh as vice president of AZ Commercial. This move was significant for AutoZone, hinting at the retailer’s plans to grow its DIFM business as automotive retailers watched the DIY business lag behind the wholesale sector in terms of growth potential.
In a move that surprised many, just last month Handschuh agreed to serve as a representative on Capital Hill. For the next year, Handschuh will be an “executive on loan” from AutoZone to assist the Coalition for Automotive Repair Equality (CARE) and AAIA in their lobbying efforts for passage of Motor Vehicle Owner’s Right to Repair Act.
Pete Kornafel – Setting The Stage for E-Commerce Evolution
As the leader of CARQUEST’s IT agenda, Pete Kornafel helped usher in a new era of electronic commerce that included a major technology-supplier change. The distributor announced in late summer it would no longer rely on a long-time vendor to provide store management software solutions, and instead would turn that mammoth task over to relative newcomer, icarz. This marked the first large-scale overhaul of stores from the traditional legacy products of the past to one of the several Web-based options now available in the market.
On top of his savvy direction of CARQUEST’s technology initiatives, Kornafel, vice chairman at CARQUEST, is a tireless fundraiser for automotive scholarships. This year, Kornafel used his extensive experience in the aftermarket to pen a book, Inventory Management and Purchasing – Tales and Techniques from the Automotive Aftermarket, all proceeds of which go to scholarships for students pursuing careers in the automotive industry.
John Lampe – Leading Bridgestone Back To Solid Ground
While John Lampe retired in 2004 as chairman, CEO and president of Bridgestone Americas Holding in March, his successful efforts to lead the company’s remarkable recovery after devastating tire recalls in late 2000/early 2001 will be his lasting legacy.
On August 9, 2000, the then-Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. announced the voluntary recall of some 14.4 million Wilderness AT, ATX and ATX II tires. This largest tire recall in history had a domino effect that resulted in years of court cases, bad publicity, massive financial losses and lost consumer confidence.
Standing in the eye of the hurricane, Lampe’s steady leadership helped bring Bridgestone Americas back on solid ground, both in terms of its reputation and financial standing.
Jacques Landreville, Clay Buzzard and Jim Buzzard – A Family Business Goes Public
These three men are responsible for creating a powerful new distribution network for North America, with last year’s merger of Quebec-based Uni-Select and New York-based MAWDI. With Landreville leading a publicly held business, many in the industry recognized the considerable feat he achieved in bringing the very private, family-owned MAWDI into the fold.
This merger significantly increases Uni-Select’s reach in the U.S. market, where it already has a presence in the Central and Northwest regions. The merged companies are expected to bring in about $470 million in revenue and continued growth via acquisition very well could be a part of their future.
Scott Luckett – Technology’s Advocate in the Aftermarket
Scott Luckett, AAIA’s vice president, technology standards & solutions, has dared to lead the aftermarket where many are hesitant to venture – into the deep and murky waters of information technology. AAIA, under Luckett’s watch, has taken a leadership role in developing a set of e-commerce and technology standards that will benefit the entire industry as it moves forward in the coming years. Even more impressive was his influence in assisting in the Gateway PARTnerShip Network, a cooperative communication network between trading partners.
He is undoubtedly the industry’s biggest advocate for utilizing technology to improve data efficiency and accuracy. Luckett certainly made his case this year, when he told the crowd at the AAIA Technology Update at AAPEX that data errors are costing the industry billions of dollars per year.
Larry McCurdy – An Influential Voice in The Ear of Cypress Group
It’s no secret aftermarket executive Larry McCurdy was influential in solidifying Cypress Group’s decision to buy the Dana Automotive Aftermarket Group (AAG).
McCurdy, along with another former Echlin top exec Joe Onorato, signed on earlier this year to serve as directors of the new incarnation of Dana AAG, now called Affinia. A former president of the group, McCurdy knows the ins and outs of the AAG, making him a valuable addition to the board and an influential leader of a strong parts supplier in these turbulent times for parts manufacturers.
Bob McKenna – Giving Distributors a Voice at MEMA
With his appointment last year as the new president and CEO of MEMA, Bob McKenna heralds a new phase for the association.
McKenna came to MEMA from Atlanta-based Genuine Parts Co., where he served as group vice president and chairman of the board for NAPA. McKenna brings 35 years of aftermarket distribution experience to the primarily manufacturer member association, which has the potential to open up some new doors and new ways of thinking for the association.
Kathleen Schmatz – The Aftermarket’s Woman of the Year
In addition to taking over this year as president and CEO of AAIA, Schmatz has been widely recognized as one of the industry’s finest representatives. With more than 30 years of experience in the industry, she has become a champion of the aftermarket and AAIA’s members with her vocal support and leadership in industry initiatives like the Right to Repair Act and the “Be Car Care Aware Campaign.”
Schmatz’ high visibility helped garner much positive press for the aftermarket last year. In April, Schmatz was interviewed on the CNBC show Behind the Wheel and was also featured in a National Car Care Month segment on NBC’s Today Show. In February, Schmatz and Al Gaspar, AAIA president emeritus, brought the aftermarket message to Wall Street when they addressed a group of 30 investors at a luncheon meeting at the Yale Club in New York City.
O. Temple Sloan III – Steering CARQUEST’s Leading WD
O. Temple Sloan III, president and CEO of General Parts, Inc. is at the helm of the largest member of the CARQUEST distribution group. Earlier last year, his company became even larger as GPI merged with Straus-Frank, a 134-year-old distribution business that started in San Antonio, Texas. Later in the year, GPI is said to have completed another major, though far less publicized, acquisition of Worldpac, a California-based import parts expediter. These two moves continue a consistent trend of mergers and acquisitions by GPI over the past several years that have helped to position GPI as one of the strongest parts distribution entities in all of North America.