The Automotive Parts Associates’ (APA) 37th Annual Shareholders’ and Manufacturers’ Conference, held March 7-9 at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, in Orlando, Florida, fulfilled its “Allies For Success” theme as it provided a forum for APA vendors and shareholder members to identify how their collective efforts and diverse expertise can benefit the group as a whole. Central to this theme were productive networking opportunities available throughout the three-day event that helped attendees let their “we’re better together” mindset take hold.
Wednesday’s Opening Session & Welcome Reception
The conference’s opening session kicked off with welcoming introductory remarks from Douglas Squires, chairman of the APA board of directors, followed by an additional welcome and APA headquarters update on promotions from Sara Griewing, marketing manager, then more headquarters updates from Paul Brokaw, director of product development, and Rick Caiello, director of technology and business development.
Together, they outlined a number of topics including, member support from APA headquarters’ staff, information technology support including the Data Solutions program and Pricing Portal availability, supplier programs, the Professionals’ Choice Service Center program, National Accounts program, yearly promotions, incentive trip programs, the Nexus! partnership and more.
Attendees then enjoyed the welcome reception, an Irish-themed party in recognition of the upcoming St. Patrick’s Day holiday, all while watching fireworks as they dined on a wonderful selection of traditional Irish fare.
Thursday’s One-on-One Meetings & Awards Dinner
Mid-morning and all afternoon, the Manufacturer One-on-One sessions provided APA exhibiting vendors and shareholder members the opportunity to network, discuss new products and expanded application coverage, and spark business-building ideas. Thousands of dollars and gift items were given as door prizes throughout the day.
Following dinner at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular Theater served as a stage to recognize the following vendors that provided products, services and support to APA shareholders over the past year.
2018 Automotive Parts Associates Awards:
- Outstanding Technology Initiatives Partner – Standard Motor Parts
- Outstanding Marketing Partner – Gates Corp.
- Distinguished Original Equipment Partner – DENSO
- Cornerstone Award – Federal-Mogul Motorparts
- HQ Manufacturer of the Year – APC Automotive Technologies
- Professionals’ Choice Supplier of the Year – Recochem Inc.
- Approved Supplier of the Year – Aisin Group
- Preferred Supplier of the Year – DEA Products
Also recognized were new APA members that joined since last year’s meeting, including: AAA Undercar Parts, Santa Monica, California; Independent Parts Warehouse, Wauwatosa, Wisconsin; and Universal Exchange, Vernon, California.
In addition, Independent Parts Warehouse, celebrating 35 years in business, received the Milestone Award.
Keynote Speaker, Friday Morning
As a prelude to the event’s guest speaker, Douglas Squires, chairman of the APA board of directors, recapped the prior two days’ events and commended the group for their united front.
“By working together as a team, members and vendors, we can maximize our success, while at the same time holding our own against the ever-increasing size of the big box competitors,” said Squires. “I hope you have taken the opportunity during these meetings to spend time with your fellow APA family members to cement better ties, learn from each other and commit to working closer. I also sincerely hope you have made an effort to develop better relations with our critically important supplier partners to develop a plan on working together as ‘Allies to achieve Success.’”
Next up was the guest speaker, Peter Witkamp, president and CEO of Aftermarket Dynamics (formerly with Federal-Mogul for more than 35 years).
Witkamp’s speech, titled Market Review, took attendees down a modern-day automotive aftermarket memory lane where he discussed a range of topics, including the VIO shift and its impact on inventory requirements, the vehicle technology explosion, parts/service decision process of technicians, consumer purchasing requirements, e-tailing, telematics, parts and service increases at the OEM level, and the decision-making process of millennials.
Witkamp identified the need to “harvest the old technologies and understand the new technologies.” He advised, “You need champions and strategic models for each to move your company forward. The technology is changing, but we are still going to sell parts.”
Wrapping up the conference was a golf tournament/awards dinner, held at the Disney Magnolia golf course.
Save the Date for APA’s 38th annual conference, slated for March 13-15, 2019, at the Renaissance Hotel in Dallas.