Barry Fitzgerald, a counterperson at Colonial Auto Parts in St. John’s, Newfoundland, has been named the 2006 Jobber News Counterperson of the Year. The award, created in honour of Abe Schwartz who spent more than 50 years behind the counter as owner of hundred-year-old British Auto Supply in Toronto, Ont., was presented for the first time in 2005. Jobber News has served the Canadian automotive aftermarket for 75 years. Sponsored by computer systems supplier Activant and Wakefield Canada, Castrol’s Canadian distribution partner, the award recognizes the importance of the front-line worker to the success of the automotive aftermarket parts wholesaler as well as the aftermarket at large. “I’m very surprised considering it is across the country,” says the 38-year old Fitzgerald. “I’m overwhelmed by it.” He also had glowing things to say about Colonial, which was itself honoured in the past. The 80-year-old Bestbuy Distributors shareholder was named Jobber of the Year in 1999. “This company is a great company to work for. I’ve been here a little over 18 years. A lot of employees have been here even more. It is a very easy company to work hard for.” More than 100 nominees were named from across the country, on the strength of comments from coworkers and customers alike. “The response was once again fantastic,” says Jobber News publisher and editor Andrew Ross. “It was very difficult to decide on a winner as it seems that just about every technician out there has his favourite counterperson. In the end the decision was made to select a counterperson who does much more than work behind the counter.” Fitzgerald does just that, working to improve the knowledge base of co-workers and customers alike through promoting training and taking charge of the distance learning activities of Colonial Auto Parts. “Barry consistently goes the extra mile to ensure his customers receive the very best of service,” says Doug Squires, general manager of Colonial Auto Parts. “He has an extensive knowledge of parts, their application and has worked at training new counter staff into the often baffling world of automotive parts. He consistently goes the extra step to help out a co-worker or customer.” In addition, Fitzgerald has not shied away from technology, becoming proficient in using the latest computer technology and e-cataloguing while retaining strong skills with paper. Training is key too. “The more you can train other people, the easier things go for everyone in the company.” The same applies to customers. “It helps them a lot more, and helps us, too,” he adds. Fitzgerald will be presented with the award in Toronto, Ont., at the Automotive Industries Association of Canada’s Annual Aftermarket Forum and Young Executives Conference scheduled for November 29 and 30. He will also be featured in the cover story in the December issue of Jobber News Magazine.