Automotive Industries Association of Canada incoming chair Doug Reevey believes the most important part of his commitment to the association over the coming year is to continue to evolve AIA so that it remains a relevant business partner and resource for members as
they continue this period of transition.
“We need to continue to evolve our message, and we need to get that message out to all of our members and drive it down to the grass-roots level. At the end of the day, we need to ensure that we are relevant to our members,” explains Reevey.
One ongoing trend AIA is following closely is the “consolidation curve.” The progress of the boomer generation into retirement is leading to a steadily increasing consolidation at the jobber and repair shop level.
“There is no question that consolidation in our industry continues to occur. The last two industry segments to experience this are the jobber and the installer segments,” says Reevey. “When you look at it from AIA’s perspective, certainly consolidation means there are going to be fewer members; but we are going to find ourselves with larger members with different needs. This consolidation movement is fluid, and it certainly is nowhere near finished.
It started at the manufacturing level, went down
to the distribution side to the large WDs, and now we are seeing it play out in the last two frontiers – the independent jobbers and the repair shops,”
“If you look at what has happened on the OE side, we now see entrepreneurs owning multiple dealership locations. The aftermarket is no different from the OEs in that regard. We will see these two market segments, jobbers and repair shops, continue to consolidate to the point where you will have one entrepreneur owning multiple locations, and this will lead to more efficiencies in the system and result in an overall better experience for the consumer,” he predicts.
Despite the recent economic slowdown, modest growth is forecast for the aftermarket in 2016. New car sales have been at record levels for the last two years, and are expected to continue to grow but at a slower pace. This continued growth in vehicle sales will result in steady growth for the aftermarket.
“However, what we are seeing on the front lines are consumers who bring their vehicle in for repair work, but are quick to put off maintenance service that they view as discretionary work,” he says. “Certainly, we need to do the best job we can in educating and informing our clients on the benefits of preventative maintenance, so they don’t view this service as discretionary spending, but rather as an investment.”
Technology is another area where AIA is taking a proactive role. “Technology is changing the way business is being conducted throughout the supply chain – from diagnostic tools and online ordering at the installer level, to better tracking of inventory and delivery of kind at the distribution level, and the advancement and complexity of replacement parts. If you look at telematics, the connected car, or the self-driving vehicle, it’s going to require us as a group of professionals to be forward-thinking and innovative in our business models to ensure we can capture the confidence of a motoring public,” continues Reevey.
“Those that choose not to embrace technology and stick their head in the sand are going to be left behind. There is no choice. The consumer is driving this technology advancement. The manufacturers are putting it in the vehicles because the consumers are requesting it. So my advice is, don’t stand in front of that tidal wave. Get on it and ride it. For those that want to resist change, just look at what happened to Kodak. They thought people were going to take pictures on film forever.”
“The automotive aftermarket is a resilient group, and I am confident it will continue to serve the working community and the public at the highest standards, as it has in the past. The aftermarket is a business built on relationships, with much of it done face to face. But today it is important to learn to use social media tools to continue to get our message out,” says Reevey.
With the average age of business owners in this industry trending towards retirement, the AIA will continue discussions on the importance of succession planning through seminars and education programs. It also continues to address the ongoing challenge of finding suitable young people to replace aging staff members that are
now at retirement age.
“With the aging population of repair shop owners and jobbers who are trying to attract talented people to their businesses, I would argue the fact that we need to get in front of not only high school and college students but also middle school students aged 12 to 14, and get our message across about the opportunities in our industry. I certainly don’t think that our audience can be too young,” advises Reevey. “I see this as a great opportunity for younger students to get involved in our industry and make a wonderful living. These students need to know that this industry is a viable option, and it can be a very rewarding career. It’s a very large industry with a lot of moving parts. I think we need to drive this fact home to the students who are going to be buying these businesses.”
AIA continues to work with community colleges and educational institutions such as the automotive business school of Canada at Georgian College in Barrie. In 2015, the AIA made a significant investment in Georgian College with the aftermarket student lounge. “This is an amazing time for young people to get involved in this industry. There are many different job opportunities in our industry such as finance, marketing, human resource, repairing vehicles, and parts sales. We have a great supply of opportunities; we just have to create the demand,” adds Reevey.
“AIA has wonderful staff and leadership, and sometimes I think we don’t celebrate our wins enough. We need to be talking to our members more about all the good things that we are doing behind the scenes. Government relations is a
great example of that. We are constantly meeting with provincial and federal politicians to drive
our message home on a number of different issues, and sometimes our members don’t see all of that.”
Reevey also has his sights on re-establishing a
“We used to have a division in B.C., and we are working hard on re-building one there. We want to capture the entire country coast to coast to ensure that our members feel that we are representing everybody in Canada.” nJN
Owner and president of Autotec Inc., Reevey joined the company back in May of 1997. At that time it was a meeting of two very different worlds. Reevey attended Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia and graduated with a degree in business commerce in 1993. From there he went on to work for Ernst & Young in the firm’s auditing practice, ultimately obtaining his Chartered Accountancy designation in 1996. Looking for a change of scenery after four years in the accounting business, Reevey purchased Autotec Inc. in the fall of 1997, despite having no automotive experience whatsoever. This was a real challenge and great learning experience for Reevey, as he reshaped the business from the ground up. He is now in his 19th year with the company and has acquired a solid understanding of the business and the industry in which it competes.
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