Auto Service World
Feature   March 1, 2003   by Bob Blans

AIA Update: Jobber Link Critical to Association and Aftermarket

So why aren't more involved?

The Jobber and Warehouse Distrib-utor Council of the Automotive Industries Association of Canada has its work cut out for it, with many issues affecting jobbers and WDs. Job one, though, may be getting jobbers to care.

Jobber apathy is a problem, according to co-chairman John Cochrane, of Cochrane Auto Electric in Toronto, Ont. “We need more jobbers to get involved in the council and we need more jobbers to get involved at the division level,” says Cochrane.

Cochrane, who has been at the helm of the committee for about four years, was recently joined by co-chairman John P. MacDonald of Ideal Supply in Listowel, Ont. Cochrane’s jobbing business, his full-service repair facility, and his many teaching jobs and seminars keep him busy. The appointment of MacDonald, also a busy guy, makes the job more manageable for both of them.

Cochrane notes the business is changing drastically, and that the need for representing jobbers’ interests is greater than ever.

“We went through the consolidation of the manufacturer sector in the nineties. We now see consolidation in the WD sector and I think you are going to continue to see consolidation in the jobber sector. You are going to see fewer jobbers, but they are going to be larger.

“Vehicle manufacturers are sending us more models with more new parts. For the jobber to stock those parts, he is going to have to have a wider customer base to service the market.

“From a jobber’s perspective one of the things I would be critically worried about is the ability to supply aftermarket parts to the repair industry. I can see the number of vehicles that we will not be able to service increasing because of exclusivity on proprietary software.

“The council has to keep the pressure on the Government Relations Committee to make sure that repair information continues to flow through the aftermarket sectors. From a garage management perspective, the software suppliers have to get information down to the aftermarket. That, too, is a big issue.

“The OE car dealer business has been growing, and why is that? Because we can’t fix the car the first time, on time, at the right price. We are into situations where we don’t have the Ford-specific tool or the Chrysler-specific tool. All of this is also a major headache for the WD and requires the WD to play an even bigger role as a supplier to the aftermarket.”

He says that on the bright side for the aftermarket industry, there is a flood of vehicles coming into the marketplace.

“That’s why one of the other areas I’m concerned about is the technician shortage, because if we don’t have people to install auto parts our business isn’t going anywhere. That to me is a real big issue.”

MacDonald shares many of Cochrane’s thoughts, but has some of his own priorities as well.

“On the subject of training wholesalers, manufacturers, or installers we have to consider the Canadian Automotive Institute in Barrie, Ont. I believe that the Wholesaler and WD Council needs to be a catalyst toward involving them more. I sit on their advisory board as well. From a training mechanism point of view, we have to watch that we do not reinvent the wheel, but rather utilize all of the mechanisms that are out there available to us now.”

He says that he sees the council as an information sharing-committee. Members who sit on the committee are brought up to speed on issues and can take that knowledge back to their businesses. From there, they can spread the word throughout their organizations.

Getting the word spread throughout the major organizations is critical to the effectiveness of both the AIA and the aftermarket’s initiatives in the marketplace.

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