Photo from AASA

AAPEX’s keynote presentation discusses what to expect on the road ahead

Nov. 4, 2020
AAPEX held a roundtable discussion with five high-level industry executives about the future of auto care and how the pandemic affects that future.

During the keynote session this year, AAPEX held a roundtable discussion with five high-level industry executives about the future of auto care and how the pandemic is affecting that future.

The session began with Bill Hanvey, president and CEO of the Auto Care Association, and Paul McCarthy, President of the AASA, reviewing the state of the industry. They discussed the automotive industry workers’ roles as essential during this time of uncertainty, the estimated growth of the aftermarket to 11.7 percent in 2021, and the Your Car. Your Data. amendment Massachusetts residents voted on November 3.

Hanvey and McCarthy then went on to lead the roundtable discussion featuring Duncan Gillis, CEO of BBB Industries, Eric Sills, CEO of Standard Motor Products, Greg Johnson, CEO of O’Reilly Auto Parts, Sue Godschalk, president of Federated Auto Parts, and Tom Greco, resident and CEO of Advance Auto Parts.

Starting off the roundtable discussion the executives expressed optimism for the future of the aftermarket and expect to see new car sales and miles driven increase in the new year.

“We are very fortunate to be in an industry that is very resilient. And it’s resilient throughout various economic changes,” Johnson says.

The executives then examined what changes due to COVID-19 may be permanent within the industry and what changes are more temporary.

Godschalk gave multiple examples of what she believes are likely to become more permanent changes:

  • The increase in online ordering
  • Personal vehicles being used over public transportation (which should balance out the lack of miles driven this year)
  • Larger focus on digital resources
  • More automation in manufacturing and distribution warehouses to ensure work won’t be interrupted
  • Greater focus on safety of customers and workers – the use of plexiglass and disinfecting high-touch areas will continue

As for the temporary changes, Gillis sees three main factors that are to transition back to their pre-pandemic state.

  • The increase in DIY’ers repairing and maintaining their vehicles over taking them into a shop
  • Remote work will shift back to in-person work
  • Traveling for trade shows; although not all traveling may be necessary as more events offer online opportunities to attend

To wrap up the roundtable discussion, Hanvey and McCarthy had each of the executives explain the challenges they’ve faced as leaders this year and any tips they have on how they’ve adapted during the pandemic.

Most of the executives had similar answers for this question, saying the best way to adapt during an uncertain situation is to utilize your peer network, communicate with customers and workers, make decisions based on data, not fear, and to not become complacent in your leadership position.

About the Author

Emily Markham | Assistant Editor | Vehicle Repair Group

Emily Markham is an assistant editor for the Vehicle Repair Group.

With an education based in writing and editing, Markham uses her knowledge to assist with the creation of content for Endeavor Business Media Vehicle Repair Group’s publications—Fleet Maintenance, Professional Tool & Equipment News (PTEN), and Professional Distributor—as well as their website, 

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