The new executive committee for AIA Canada. From left, Dave Fifield, Susan Hitchon, Brent Hesje and J.F. Champagne. (missing: Jason Best)
On first glance, the Automotive Industries Association of Canada’s Annual General Meeting was fairly typical.
Minutes approved, gavels passed on and other formalities took place in Toronto at the end of April. But there was one significant move that not only broke a barrier but set up another significant one to fall in the future.
Susan Hitchon was elected to the executive committee of the AIA’s board of directors as the second vice chairwoman. That means she will eventually become chairwoman of the association – the first woman on all counts.
Hitchon is the head of global new business development, special markets, with Schrader International.
Brent Hesje took the reins of chairman from Dave Fifield, who will now serve as immediate past chairman. Rounding out the executive committee is Jason Best, first vice chairman.
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Hesje challenged AIA member companies to be adaptive in the face of incredible change.
The Edmonton-based CEO of Fountain Tire insisted the new realities that the aftermarket will face are “fraught with opportunity.”
“The unperformed maintenance in Canada stands at about $15 billion,” he said. “We don’t need to be focused on beating up one other but rather educating consumers on the need to perform maintenance on their personal and fleet vehicles.”
Hesje described the goals of the aftermarket as a noble cause.
“Our roads are made safer with full maintenance. The carbon footprint of our vehicles is minimized with full maintenance,” he said.
AIA chairman Brent Hesje delivers his first speech in the role at the association’s annual general meeting in Toronto April 25.
“As for challenges, I think there are many out there. But the one I hear the most about, and the one that will require our collective will to tackle, is about the next generation of workers in our industry. Who will make up the next generation?”
Hesje said he takes comfort in the fact that youth are comfortable with new technology and energized by it. The aftermarket, which is on the cusp of the latest mobility technology, should become more and more attractive to bright young minds.
“This is a great time to get future generations pumped about the automotive aftermarket,” he said.
Four new directors were added to the board: Samantha Coates, vice president of operations at Lordco, Bob Greenwood, president and CEO of the Automotive Aftermarket E-Learning Centre and columnist with Jobber News and CARS Magazine, Bob Jaworski, president and general manager of Auto Electric Service in Regina, and Uni-Select’s Canadian Automotive Group president and chief operating officer Brent Windom. They will join Rick Orser, Tony Del Vasto, Steve Leal and Simon Weller as directors.
Fifield, president of Wakefield Canada, agreed that the association is in a very good place, both financially and strategically.
“We have a clear path forward on the key initiatives that are vital to our members,” he said in his final speech as chairman. “But we cannot take our accomplishments for granted. We must push forward to secure the future of our industry. I’m confident we have the team in place to get us there.”
Fifield identified a number of issues facing the industry, most notably the danger of falling behind on the latest automotive technology.
“The need for ongoing education and training, required to maintain increasingly complex vehicles, is a key concern that I’ve heard many times across our industry,” he said. “We must look for creative ways to help us address this need.”
Tony Canade presented the AIA’s financial statements at the group’s annual general meeting.
Tony Canade, president of Assured Automotive, described 2017 as “another stable and successful year for the AIA.”
He reported that program revenue line increased 29 per cent over 2016, to $5.2 million from $4.0 million.
While membership revenue was down slightly to $1.14 million from $1.2 million, total revenues were up 17 per cent over 2016, to $6.7 million from $5.75 million.
The association’s total expenses increased by 10 per cent to $6.15 million, up from $5.6 million in 2016. But overall, the association took in $550,000 more than it spent in 2017 – a figure that was up substantially from 2016’s $155,593.
Canade reported net assets of $3.05 million in 2017.