Auto Service World
News   July 15, 2002   by Auto Service World

Forum to Focus on Canada’s Role in Aftermarket

The program for this November’s Annual Automotive Aftermarket Forum, just announced by the Automotive Industries Association of Canada, will focus on Canada’s role in the changing North American aftermarket.
“Shifting Gears: Canada’s Fit in the North American Market,” to be held November 21, 2002, at the International Plaza Hotel in Toronto, Ont., 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.
“The goal of the AIA Forum is to provide aftermarketers with a unique Canadian opportunity for learning and networking with their peers, suppliers, and customers,” says AIA president Ray Datt. “The Forum is designed to be a valuable resource for aftermarketers at every level–jobber, retailer, WD, and supplier; providing them with information for their business and marketing strategies.”
The Annual Report Card on the Economy by Dr. Michael Graham is back by popular demand. It will set the stage for the rest of the Forum’s speakers by providing insight into the Canadian, North American, and global economies, as well as looking at economic (and stock market) trends. Dr. Graham has provided aftermarketers with economic overviews for several Forums now, so this year he will also review his previous years’ predictions as well as look to the future.
One clear trend over the past few years has been the “North Americanization” of the aftermarket distribution industry? What’s next? Is three-step distribution still viable? What are the new approaches in the distribution sector?
Trends in Automotive Aftermarket Branding will set the “branding” stage by beginning with the history of aftermarket brand trends over the past 10 years. Participants will gain insights into the next branding cycle and the criteria that drive the purchase decisions. What facts do aftermarketers need before they can consider their branding strategy? Kathleen Schmatz, executive vice-president of the Automotive Aftermarket Industries Association in the United States, and a former magazine publisher, will share her observations on this important and topical marketing issue.
The traditional aftermarket’s competition, especially in Canada, is the service and repair center at Car Dealers and the Forum has invited dealers to share their street-level view. Dealers will provide insights into the key opportunities and challenges facing the OE industry in an age of new vehicle technology, changing relationships with manufacturers, and an aging workforce (automotive service technicians and dealer owners). They will also discuss their thoughts on the dealership of tomorrow. Panelists include: Rick Gauthier, president, Canadian Automobile Dealers Association; Gerd Reisenecker, owner and general manager, Greenbelt Volkswagen; and Brian Heninger, president, Heninger Toyota; and Bryan Rowntree, president, Rowntree Automotive.
To boost networking opportunities, the year the event will conclude with a reception. The reception will provide an opportunity for participants to chat with speakers, clients, suppliers, colleagues and peers about the opportunities and challenges discussed throughout the day.
“Change can be difficult, but it can lead to opportunity,” says Bryan Held (SMK-Speedy International), chair of the Forum Organizing Committee. “By better understanding the current trends in the North American automotive aftermarket industry, and the unique challenges facing the Canadian automotive aftermarket, participants will be prepared for the threats and opportunities on the horizon.”