Three Chicago area automotive repair shop owners are ready to help manufacturers and distributors understand what is important to them at the 2013 Global Automotive Aftermarket Symposium (GAAS) scheduled for May 21-22 at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare near Chicago.
"What Shops Really Need" is a panel discussion led by Ron Pyle, president and chief staff executive of the Automotive Service Association (ASA). His panelists are Bob Shanahan, owner of DuPage Tire and Auto, John Vallely, owner of McLean Auto Repair and Dave Walter, owner of Kehoe Automotive Center, Inc.
Walter says he wants suppliers to understand that he doesn’t necessarily need the latest promotion or the cheapest part. "We want something that’s going to work," he explained. "We only get paid to do the job once, so we want it done right the first time. We need availability along with the brands we trust and at a reasonable price."
Vallely agrees about the need for quality parts. He says promotions can work at his shop if they benefit customers. "To sell a bunch of parts to get our employees a trip doesn’t really help our business," said Vallely of his 43-year old repair shop in Elgin, Ill. "If we can offer a rebate to a customer then that’s good for our advertising and our marketing and a win-win for our business."
Shanahan has been in business for over 25 years and says his job as a shop is to represent the consumer. "We become the advocate for the customer to choose the right quality, brand name part and the one we would put on our own car," said Shanahan. "Customers usually take our advice. We don’t hear customers saying, ‘cheap, cheap, cheap’ or ‘price, price, price.’ They want a quality repair and at a fair price."
GAAS 2013, with a theme of "Driving Change," brings together industry leaders and experts to examine the issues and trends affecting the worldwide automotive aftermarket and influencing its future.
In addition to this panel, delving into the minds of up and coming aftermarket professionals will be the focus of another GAAS 2013 session titled: "Future Leaders Speak Out." This uniquely designed, interactive panel discussion is being presented for the first time with automotive educators along with current and recent graduates, including recipients of a Global Automotive Aftermarket Symposium (GAAS) scholarship.
"This segment highlights the expected and not-so-expected views of current students including GAAS scholarship recipients," explained Larry Silvey, assistant professor and chair, aftermarket management, Northwood University. "If you’re looking to find out what these students and new grads think about some of the longstanding problems that industry veterans have struggled with for years, this is a must-see session."
Serving as moderator for the panel, Silvey says the session will demonstrate the passion that young people have for the automotive aftermarket, along with the challenges that they face in an industry of this size. "In fact, it is those challenges that seem to engage and drive them in their quest to excel in the industry. They want to help by offering some fresh, unhampered ideas, perhaps even solutions that only a generation brought up on the Internet and technology could offer."
In addition to Silvey, representing the academic community is Tom Grothous, academic dean at the University of Northwestern Ohio, College of Applied Technologies. Speaking for former students and GAAS scholarship recipients are Chuck Grospitch, technical sales/inside sales, Hawk Performance and Jim Lucas, director of new product development, Dorman Products. Current student representatives from Northwood University are Alex DeYoung, a junior, and Victor George, a graduating senior.
For the first time ever, GAAS 2013 will feature breakout sessions and is co-located with the Aftermarket eForum, May 22-23.
A discounted hotel rate at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare is available for $177 per night (single or double) plus tax. This guaranteed rate is good through April 19, 2013.
Attendees of both GAAS and Aftermarket eForum save $250 off the regular price of the two.
Each year the net proceeds of GAAS are invested in the organization’s scholarship fund to help students get their automotive aftermarket career started. Additional scholarship funding comes from industry contributions from individuals, companies and foundations. To date GAAS, has awarded scholarships to more than 1,600 students representing $1.6 million in aid.