Almost from the moment they set foot on Northwood University’s Midland, Mich., campus last Sunday, members of the 2010-2011 class of the University of the Aftermarket Leadership 2.0 program were focused on one issue – ensuring the continued growth of the automotive aftermarket. As they headed home five days later, participants reported they were physically tired but intellectually stimulated by long days – and, often, late nights – discussing dozens of industry issues and emerging opportunities. “This program brings together talented professionals with a real passion for our industry,” said University of the Aftermarket Director Brian Cruickshank, AAP. “They arrive for Session I as dozens of individuals, many of whom are fierce competitors in the work world. But by the end of that first week they become a single team focused on one thing – growing the business for everyone.” Session I highlights included an address by N.A. Williams Company President and CEO Roger McCollum, daily discussions of key industry trends, exploration of the principles of effective leadership, and business-related conversations and debates that extended well past the program’s intended schedule. The 30-member class, the largest in history, includes representatives of each step in the industry value chain. “This has been an outstanding forum to exchange ideas and learn from a dynamic group of smart, successful and creative professionals,” said class member Jennifer Ortiz, director of communications for the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association. Added Young Suhr Jr. of APW Knox-Seeman Warehouse, “I learned from high-level instructors, shared experiences and ideas with experts and passionate individuals within the industry, and reflected deeply on the business back home. Business is a series of relationships, which Leadership 2.0 has fulfilled for me in many ways.” Ray Howell of Meineke Car Care Centers said the first week’s activities will have a tangible impact on his multi-location business. “I was exposed to leadership skills that I can immediately use with employees to help them excel in their day-to-day operations. This week has allowed me to better strategically plan for growth and adapt to a changing aftermarket.” Before leaving campus, class members were divided into teams that will complete in-depth research into a variety of pressing industry challenges. The class will reconvene for Session II April 3-8, 2011, on the Northwood University campus in West Palm beach, Fla. Leadership 2.0 is designed for any mid-level professional working in any segment of the aftermarket, including manufacturing, retail operations, wholesale distributing, program group management, association management, and vehicle service operations. Led by Northwood faculty and senior aftermarket executives and leaders, the curriculum includes a blend of industry research and market analysis, discussion and debate on aftermarket challenges and competitive strategies, individual communication skills training, negotiations and conflict management, insight into supply chain solutions, and other industry topics. For additional information regarding Leadership 2.0 and other University of the Aftermarket programs, please visit www.universityoftheaftermarket.com or call 1-800-551-2882.