Auto Service World
Feature   January 1, 2001   by Bob Blans

ACROSS CANADA REPORT: Tech Draws Record Turnout


2001 here we come! By “we” I mean the entire Canadian automotive aftermarket as it tackles new technological advances and other changes that are awe-inspiring.

No wonder attendance at AIA’s Fifth Annual Automotive Forum held in Toronto broke a record with 215 participants. I think the reason so many manufacturers, WDs and jobbers attended is the fact that that they are all looking for answers.

I don’t think many were disappointed. It was an action-filled day and the Information Technology and E-business Mini-Trade Fair was an added attraction. About a dozen companies had booths at the fair.

I thought all of the forum speakers were thought-provoking. What I found particularly interesting were the remarks made by Denis DesRosiers, DesRosiers Automotive Consultants Inc., about how different the Canadian automotive aftermarket is from the U.S. market. He noted the difference in geography, vehicles, consumers and aftermarket players. He stressed the need for Canadian company managers who report to U.S. owners to make sure that they know that if they wish to succeed in the Canadian market.

Now that the federal election has been held I’m looking forward to the results of the Industry Lobby Day and Parliament Hill Event in Ottawa on February 13. I hope some politicians will not have become too smug to listen. They need to know more about the importance of the automotive aftermarket to the economy and the general public.

NOTES FROM AROUND:

Talked to Sandy Ross, chairman of the Central Ontario Division. The division has planned an action-packed year starting with a First Aid Training Course from the St. John’s Ambulance people in February. A division meeting in March is expected to zero in on industry trends. A jobber training school in conjunction with the University of the Aftermarket has also been planned. Last year 20 jobbers participated and although it was successful, Sandy hopes more jobbers will participate this year. The division will also start organizing their spring and fall golf tournaments and a fall division meeting on marketing for jobbers.

As noted in last month’s column AIA president Ray Datt went on a Western Road Trip in December. Harold Nicholls attended division meetings in Vancouver and Vancouver Island where Ray spoke. He noted that Ray stressed AIA’s continuing efforts to improve the image of the industry, to network with other organizations and to educate installers not only on becoming more professional, but also more informed about the parts they install. He also pointed to the need for more business training at the jobber and installer level.

Here are some updates from B.C. Interior rep Peter Gilchrist: Terry Pollock, formerly manager of Uni-Select Kelowna, has moved to Vancouver as general manager of the Uni-Select Pacific Division; and Al Sampson has been appointed manager of Uni-Select Kelowna, and will open the new Uni-Select Warehouse there. Gilchrist says, too, that he expects the AirCare Program currently in effect in the Lower Mainland to be extended into the B.C. Interior. Says Gilchrist, “Jobbers, I’m sure, are looking forward to this.”

Apparently, the Quebec Division meetings held in Montreal on November 19 and in Quebec City on December 6 were a success. The meetings were designed to better acquaint AIA members with the issues that currently confront the automotive aftermarket. One of the speakers, an installer, stressed the need for jobbers to realize that they need to supply more than product to their installer customers. Delivery, service, and technical support were some of the areas of concern. He stressed the importance of creating a partnership and that jobbers should understand a shop owner’s day-to-day challenges such as deadlines and customer expectations.

Note: If you have any information to contribute to this column please call Bob Blans at (905) 844-8616, Fax (905) 844-8731, E-Mail to blans@ibm.net or write to Across Canada Report c/o Jobber News Magazine, 1450 Don Mills Rd., Don Mills, ON M3B 2X7. In addition to AIA Division activities we are interested in hearing from you about the opening of a new business, change of ownership, expansions etc.


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