AWDA poised for a comeback

Jan. 1, 2020
Somewhere in heaven the late Automotive Warehouse Distributors Association (AWDA) icon Martin Fromm must have been smiling. When incoming AWDA chairman Rusty Bishop finished with his speech, the hundreds of distributors and manufacturers were clear t

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Somewhere in heaven the late Automotive Warehouse Distributors Association (AWDA) icon Martin Fromm must have been smiling. When incoming AWDA chairman Rusty Bishop finished with his speech, the hundreds of distributors and manufacturers were clear that a new day is ahead for AWDA.

Referring to a new strategic plan for the organization at its 2008 Opening General Session Sunday evening, Bishop, who is president and CEO of Federated Auto Parts, said, “One major goal of our plan is to return AWDA to a position of leadership within the aftermarket industry.”

Although he said the merger in 2004 between AWDA and AAIA (Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association) has been beneficial from a resources standpoint, Bishop said distributors have been complacent in using AAIA’s prowess. “With a wealth of resources and a large competent staff, many of us felt we could just sit back and let others take care of business. AWDA’s committees were blended into AAIA, but many of our members declined to transition themselves into AAIA’s committee structure.”

For AWDA to gain relevance again, a new communications network to enhance volunteer leadership is being built. The network, Bishop said, will assure that “AWDA members will serve on AAIA committees and report to the AWDA Board on committee happenings, needs, projects and priorities.” This will provide AWDA members with a greater voice, Bishop said. 

If this sounds as if AWDA will be recapturing some of its clout, the same is true for the importance of its one-on-one meetings. Bishop said that AWDA has “experimented” with these meetings over the past two years to “simplify the AWDA-AAPEX experience and at the same time eliminate an extra day in Vegas” by holding meetings on the show floor or in an adjacent ballroom. In order to get better support for these meetings next year, Bishop said AWDA will return to “all-suite meetings” but underscored that the association is committed to the current format this year.

Earlier, outgoing chairman Jim Tennant warmed the audience up for Bishop by pounding on the themes of change and education.

“It’s all about embracing change,” Tennant said. “Our industry is driven by supply but ultimately by service. The knowledge to succeed is growing exponentially.” Tennant was relentless. He continued by challenging the audience. “Are we investing the time? Are we investing in people? Are we dedicating the extra dollars required to take AWDA to the next level?”

Capping off the evening was the presentation of several prestigious AWDA awards for 2008. The awards and the recipients were:

  • 2008 Leader of the Year –– Robert F. Egan, vice president, North America –– Global Aftermarket for Federal Mogul Corp. A member of AAIA’s Board of Directors, Egan was recognized as “a huge supporter of education” and one who “has answered every call that we at AWDA have made to him.” Egan has spent nearly 30 years with Federal Mogul and is presently responsible for sales, marketing and distribution for the North American aftermarket. Other industry service includes chairing the Automotive Sales Council and the Heavy Duty Manufacturers Association and Business Forum.
  • The Martin Fromm Lifetime Achievement Award –– Richard H. Morgan, president of the Aftermarket Auto Parts Alliance. Morgan, who has held the top post at the Alliance for the past 14 years, got started as a field service rep in GM’s AC Spark Plug division in 1962. Over a span of 21 years, he worked his way up to become director of sales and marketing for ACDelco in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. After that, he spent 12 years with Straus Frank Co., a CARQUEST distributor in San Antonio, Texas. Along with his work career, he distinguished himself as an ardent supporter of the aftermarket. AWDA says that the recipients of this award are the “backbones” of the industry. Outgoing AWDA chairman Jim Tennant said Morgan “has displayed a level of involvement and commitment that should serve as an example to all of us.” Proof of that is his continued service to industry boards and committees, including two years as AAIA’s chairman of the board and numerous other association leadership positions.
  • Art Fisher Memorial Scholarship Award –– David Carracci, retired but still active serving as Chairman of the University of the Aftermarket Foundation and the Global Automotive Aftermarket Association. Caracci served DANA Corporation for eight years in various positions before moving on to ROL as president of the company’s aftermarket group. From there he became vice president of sales at Robert Bosch Corporation from which he retired in 2005. His industry involvement was just as impressive serving as chairman of AAIA, executive director of the National Engine Parts Manufacturers Association, president of the Automotive Sales Council and chairman of the Engine Repower Council.
  • Pursuit of Excellence Award (given in recognition of excellence in business performance and support for AWDA and its ideals) –– Dennis Welvaert, president, North American Aftermarket Division, Dayco Products LLC. Walvaert, a 38-year automotive veteran, has held various leadership and technical positions at Firestone and Dayco. He was promoted to his present position in 2003. His industry involvement includes serving as a member of AAIA’s Board of Directors and Show Committee, the University of the Aftermarket Foundation Board of Trustees, the Board of Automotive Aftermarket Suppliers Association and is a member of the Society of Automotive Engineers. In presenting the award to Welvaert, Uni-Select’s William Alexander said, “…When the selection committee met to consider a host of nominees, no one could believe that Denny had never been chosen for this award. The man defines the Pursuit of Excellence in our industry.”

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