Looking at where we are as an industry right now has to fill all of us with at least some sense of pride.
I know that I do hammer away at some of this industry’s shortcomings from time to time, but that is often a reflection of the fact that I know that it can and will respond to the challenges of the day. It certainly should never be taken as an indication of pessimism or its kissing cousin, antipathy.
It is, to be sure, an industry in transition, as is the case with every industry. Some of these have been brought about, or at least accelerated, by the economic shifts that we continue to see. Others are simply the result of a natural shift in the market, vehicle technology, and the technology that we have at our fingertips.
Some of these changes are occurring at a faster rate than many of us would prefer, but also at a slower pace than the most gloomy predictions would have us believe.
And, of course, at the centre of all of these shifts is you, the reader, the business owner and manager, and those who keep every business humming every day.
One of the most encouraging observations most perfectly embodied in this year’s Counterperson of the Year is the fact that all of these shifts and changes through evolving technologies will, for the most part, be navigated by those with more than a few miles under their feet, and not by those of the much-lauded Millennial generation.
This is in no way a criticism of those yet to see their 30th birthday, but they are, for the most part, neither in the corporate positions to make the decisions for a company, or, again with a few exceptions, equipped with the level of experience to make the right ones.
And, while it may not make great copy–if I ever have to read another popular magazine article telling us all that 20-somethings are here so get out of the way it will be too soon–the fact remains that the folks whom I see at the head of Canada’s strongest aftermarket companies are doing an excellent job of wrestling with new technology and keeping the balance sheet balanced.
Of course the best ones have talented young managers who can serve as a valuable resource, but experience has also taught them that technology mistakes can cost more than just a few dollars. I recall one case in the not-too-distant past where the inability of one company to get its technology to talk to another one it had acquired cost both companies their existence. And the fact that that is the only example from this industry I can think of is equally inspiring.
I guess what I’m saying is that when I look around at who is driving this industry, I really like what I see, in terms of the people, their outlook, their innovation and their commitment to their business and their industry. And I like the confidence they have in their own ability to make the right decisions too.
So, have a good holiday season, enjoy a break if you can, and I’ll see you in the new year.