Auto Service World
Feature   July 1, 2003   by Bob Blans

AIA Update: Everything Under One Roof

Information Resources Committee Focused On Providing All Member Services

In a Canadian aftermarket that sometimes seems besieged by external forces like tabloid television shows, unfair tax judgements, and an ever-changing regulatory environment, it can be easy to forget that there are less publicized needs of the aftermarket that need to be met. This is what the Information Resources Committee of the Automotive Industries Association of Canada is designed to do.

A streamlined entity that fulfils the roles played by many previous association bodies in the past, the committee’s mandate is to ensure that the association’s members have the information and resources necessary to prosper.

“We used to have information technology, information resources, training, etc.,” says committee chair Randy Moore. “We decided to get rid of a lot of our subcommittees. It was a conscious decision by all of us to stop putting on information seminars and programs, and instead to go out there and find them in the marketplace and provide a venue where our members could connect with these resources.”

Transportation of Dangerous Goods training is an example. The Opportunities Unlimited speaker program is another. “Rather than providing them, we are a resource for members to find out what is available.” Moore says that the Information Resources Committee represents an integration of duties formerly handled by several groups. Each would handle matters concerning information technology, market research, member services, student programs such as scholarships, and training resources. While that may sound like a crushing burden, quite a bit of overlap had developed in what these various committees worked on over the years.

A streamlining of efforts makes the new entity’s mandate manageable.

“A lot of issues come and go,” says Moore. In the former structure, some subcommittees would remain even after the key reason for which they were created had been addressed. This is no longer the case.

“Now we can put the brains there that we need, then dissolve it when we don’t need them. We were just wasting resources. Instead of the association trying to be a company, we’re really the brokerage house for the members.

“We supply data and the resources for members. That is a good use of our time. In information technology,” he says, “if the task force is working on bar coding, for example, we can have four brains on it and they can be very intense. It used to be a council of 14 people. With four or five you can stay sharp and stay focused.

“I appreciate people wanted to volunteer, but let’s get the four or five sharpest minds on the subject. They can make a bigger impact faster than a larger committee.”

He says that an added benefit is that there are now fewer committees for members to go to. If members want to know what business services, training services, or other issues may be available to them either from the AIA or through the AIA’s connections, they are all covered under the Information Resources committee. If a jobber has an inquiry regarding lobbying efforts, he consults the Government Relations Committee.

In simple form, if an issue is about defending the industry, it falls under the jurisdiction of the Government Relations Committee. If it is an issue about helping individual members with their staff or their business, then it falls under the Information Resources Committee’s mandate.

“It was getting too big before. It got so big it got confusing.” Today, partnerships with other groups–both industry and private, national and international–take precedence over duplicating efforts.

“It was too scattered before. Today, any of their agenda topics is going to fit under one of those two committees.

“I think the whole concept is exciting. It really is focused on providing the members with services. It’s like one-stop shopping.”

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