Auto Service World
Feature   July 1, 2009   by Auto Service World

Giving Back: An Aftermarket Tradition

With all the turmoil that continues to dominate the automotive headlines, I suppose I should be adding to the discussion with words of foreboding and caution, but recent events have led me to take a break from that sober tack.

I just had to give some space to recognize the outstanding efforts of so many in this industry to raise money for great charitable causes–far too many to mention–at a time when they themselves are hardly flush with green.

For me, this thinking started back in May with the “Spring Tune-Up” event put on by the Southern Ontario Division of the AIA. It was too early in the season to provide much more than whack-and-hunt golf, but smartly enough organized to keep the entry under $100 and still raise more than $1,200 for automotive scholarships.

And then there is Shad’s R&R. Shad’s is hands down the most well-known and largest fundraiser of the Canadian aftermarket at large–its proceeds always go into six figures and it has generated more than $3.5 million for muscular dystrophy research over the past 36 years.

Instead of playing this year, I took on volunteer duties, standing in on the former “beat the pro” hole, mercifully transitioned to a closest-to-the-pin competition in aid of High Fives for Kids and Shad’s charity of choice. It was amazing to see the unbridled generosity of every foursome who came through. Sure, I was only nicking them for ten bucks apiece–an extra tenner for those who missed the green and wanted to bet on me hitting it–but I still didn’t get a single refusal, even though many had already dipped into their pockets on numerous occasions. I highly recommend taking on such duties.

And of course there is the West Coast Classic, now spearheaded by Lordco’s Doug Coates, but with lauds to Gary Cooper of Auto Marine Electric who has played such an important part in keeping it going for more than 20 years. It puts something like $70,000 into the coffers of a whole raft of charities each year. Well done.

And every year one of the more successful and worthy events is put on just north of Toronto by the Automotive Aftermarket Retailers of Ontario (AARO). It brings out a good assortment of service providers and their suppliers to raise money for the Bloorview Hospital for children. Wally Clayson, who is a multi-term president of the association, a great business owner, and the real reason the event exists–though I am sure he would object, they really should put his name on it before they have to put “memorial” behind it–knows that it may not earn as much as the “big events,” but I think they should be very proud of their contribution.

And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the “Evening at the Ballpark” this August (after all, I’m a co-founder and organizer alongside Fenwick’s Eric Liebovitz and T&H Auto Electric’s John Pedersen) that brings in a few thousand dollars for leukemia and lymphoma research each year.

There are, of course, many more fundraisers held by aftermarket companies and organizations across the country. They all deliver on so many levels that there is much to be proud of. And, while the take for many this year will be down, the aftermarket should be commended for its ability to continue to give and give large even in difficult times.

With that in mind, I leave you with this: If you can’t give big, give small; if you can’t give small, give your time. Regardless of the size of your commitment, the returns will always exceed the contribution many times over. You will never regret it. — Andrew Ross, Publisher and Editor



August will focus on Light Trucks and SUVs that remain plentiful on our roads, and a great opportunity. Plus, we’ll update you on low-VOC refinish developments.

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