Auto Service World
Feature   May 1, 2008   by CARS Magazine

AIA deals aces high at annual Aftermarket Conference for Executives

"I had to be here at 7:30 this morning, and that's usually about the time I'm getting home," started the Honorable Ralph Kline. former premier of Alberta. Such was the opening remarks made to the afte...

“I had to be here at 7:30 this morning, and that’s usually about the time I’m getting home,” started the Honorable Ralph Kline. former premier of Alberta. Such was the opening remarks made to the aftermarket’s best and brightest as they gathered in Gatineau (formerly Hull) Quebec for the annual Aftermarket ket Conference for Executives.

Held at the Hilton Lac Leamy, April 22nd and 23rd, the event brought together a broad cross-section of industry movers and shakers.

The morning’s activities began earlier though, with the presentation of the AIA’s highest honour, the Lifetime Service Award, this year presented to Dan Bell, of CARS Council. Former chairman John Cochoran presented the award, noting Bell’s many accomplishments. He was chosen as “the recipient of this year’s award,” said John Cochrane, “because of the significant contribution he has made to the automotive aftermarket industry from a training and human resources perspective. He has been an advocate and proponent of training for a number of years. He has ensured that our industry has access to training on a cost effective basis, which is a very important aspect to the growth and prosperity of the automotive aftermarket in Canada.”

Following the presentation, it was Klein’s turn to captivate the crowd with his unique brand of everyday politics and advice from years on the front lines in Canada’s most exciting economy. After going through a list of successes and regrets, which included his inability to reform the health care system, Klein brought his point home to the crowd of aftermarket professionals.

“Healthcare should be no different than the automotive business, where competition prevails,” he said. “In healthcare, you can’t be stagnant, and can’t use the same strategies that worked 25 years ago. You have to learn to adapt to ensure customers receive the goods or services they expect and deserve. The feds could learn a lot you in the aftermarket. In your business, you ensure an enhanced ownership of a product. You need to listen and adapt in order to keep up with the needs and demands of your customers.”

The need to adapt and change with new conditions was echoed by the event’s second keynote address delivered by Lieutenant General Walter Natynczyk, vice-chief of the Canadian Defense Staff, and reported heir apparent to the nation’s top soldering job after the announced resignation of Major General Rick Hillier earlier in April. Natynczyk returned to the theme of flexibility in leadership, even within the rigidity of the military.

“We went though a period where people wanted to codify everything and every battlefield decision,” he said. “But in the field things can change very quickly and decision need to be made by judgment. So what you’re doing here is great. You have to refresh your thinking or you get stale. And as strategic leaders, you have to provide the guidance necessary to allow your people to make those discretionary judgments.

What’s more, interspersed with the longer presentations, Dr. John Izzo presented his “five secrets you must discover before you die,” which encouraged all in attendance to look at the importance of lifelong goals from a new and enlightening perspective.

In all, the two day event proved to be a solid opportunity for the aftermarket to gather, discuss and learn.


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