Auto Service World
Feature   October 1, 2002   by Auto Service World

AIA Forum: Better Times Just Around the Corner?

PREVIEW: 7th Annual Canadian Automotive Aftermarket Forum November 21, 2002, International Plaza Hotel, Toronto, Ont.

Annual Forum to Focus on Canada’s Role in North American Aftermarket

Canada is, in the parlance of old-time politicians, a mouse sleeping with an elephant. This November, the Annual Aftermarket Forum will look at just what the changes in the elephantine U.S. economy and North America as a whole mean for our industry.

“Shifting Gears: Canada’s Fit in the North American Market,” will focus on Canada’s role in the changing North American aftermarket. The one-day forum, presented by the Auto-motive Industries Association of Canada, is being held November 21 at the International Plaza Hotel in Toronto, Ont.

It will include several speakers who will focus on trends in the North American aftermarket and the changing interface between all levels of the automotive aftermarket.

Last November, some of the most compelling words–so soon after the events of September 11–came from the perennially thought-provoking economist and crystal ball gazer Dr. Michael Graham.

In the 2001 edition of the forum, Graham predicted that economic recovery would be well along by now.

“If the economy is going to turn sometime [in 2002], the stock markets are going to turn six to 12 months ahead of time. That’s the time when, in a matter of days or weeks, you make huge gains.”

Wall Street, he said, had a trillion dollars parked on the side in institutional cash; Canada has about 100 billion dollars, just waiting for the time to be right. “One day next year, something will happen, and all of that will start heading for the market together.”

It shouldn’t need to be said, but the year is running out and the economic recovery is looking distinctly scattered. It will be interesting to see what his analysis will reveal about the reasons why, for instance, the Canadian economy appears to be chugging along more smoothly than the U.S.

Perhaps, when you’re the proverbial mouse sleeping with the elephant, you might not necessarily catch pneumonia when it sneezes; maybe you’re quick enough to get out of the way.

Beyond larger economic forces, the forum will focus on many issues that are forcing the aftermarket to change.

One of these is branding, which will be tackled by a U.S. representative from the Auto-motive Aftermarket Industries Association.

No doubt, one of the most lively and useful discussions will be the panel of car dealers who will talk about competition, vehicle technology, and an aging workforce. Aftermarket attendees may have more common ground with their competition than they may have realized.

More interesting, however, will be how Canada’s aftermarket seeks to fit into the larger whole of the North American market, or even if there is a place for a distinct Canadian aftermarket at all. That will be worth hearing about.

For more information on the presentations at the Annual Aftermarket Forum or to register, contact the Automotive Industries Association of Canada at (416) 728-5821 or log on to its website at


The perspective of the top man at Carquest’s biggest member is sure to be thought provoking.

Temple Sloan, founder, chairman and CEO of General Parts, Inc. of North Carolina, the largest Carquest member and owner of Carquest Canada, will defend three-step distribution at this November’s Automotive Aftermarket Forum.

Sloan will air his thoughts on the aftermarket in a presentation titled “A Defense of the 3-Step Distribution System.”

While the perspectives of someone as well placed within the aftermarket as Sloan would always be of note, his presentation will be given added bite considering the ongoing controversy over General Parts’ practices in the U.S. It has been alleged for some years now, with court cases pending at last check, that the organization has engaged in unfair practices in locations where associates have been competing with corporate stores.

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