J.R. Bishop is YANG chairman and director of motorsports and event marketing for Federated Auto Parts. In this exclusive interview, Bishop talks about the growth of YANG, the presence of millennials and their current mindset and what opportunities exist with being part of the group.
YANG has seen exponential growth in membership in a relatively short period of time. Why do you think this is?
The young people I encounter in the auto care industry are eager to get involved and want to make an impact. They look at YANG as that conduit. The auto care industry has a lot of family-oriented businesses and the next generation wants to continue that success while, at the same time, making their own mark. That is why we are seeing more and more young people attending industry functions and asking how they can get involved. In short, the YANG membership is incredibly energized and they see this industry as having huge potential for them.
Savvy employers today are really working hard to better understand millennials and the needs and desires of young aspiring professionals and leaders today. From your perspective, what are you hearing among members in terms of what they want out of their careers and professional lives?
YANG members believe there is a lot of opportunity for advancement as the older generation continues to retire. They know they have to learn quickly and develop solid relationships early on to progress in their careers. This is where YANG comes in, giving them the opportunity to connect. Our members want balance, but they also want to make a difference and succeed. YANG gives them a way to achieve that. Networking is not all about work; it encourages a work/life balance through the relationships developed on a professional and personal level. YANG helps its members expand relationships outside of company lines and across lines that wouldn’t exist without participation in YANG.
What are the most important industry issues that YANG is focused on today?
That’s a good question. The industry’s issues also are YANG members’ issues, such as technology, including telematics, attracting talent to the industry and so on. We look for ways to help prepare our members for the next steps in their careers and keep them informed of issues that impact them as a member of the auto care industry.
As chairman, have you outlined some goals for what you and the group would like to accomplish this year?
From a strategic perspective, my goal is to focus our group’s energy and enthusiasm on initiatives that will benefit the YANG membership and build upon the foundation of the past YANG leaders, Michael Rukov and Alena VanCleave. Each did an outstanding job in the role of chairman, introducing programs to encourage networking and education. I hope, during my term, we show that YANG not only provides value to its members, but to the association and the industry as well.
YANG does a great job creating networking opportunities for new young industry professionals with the Regional Meetup events. What are some of the other benefits of becoming a YANG member?
YANG conducts educational sessions like the YANG Leadership Conference and the YANG Town Hall at AAPEX. These types of events are valuable to our members and support our mission. As we consider future programs, we are careful not to lose focus on what YANG is, and that is a networking organization. We don’t want to stray too far from our core – connecting members, creating relationships and educating for the future.
Once a YANG member “ages out” of the group, what happens? What is the next step for them?
As they say, once a YANGster always a YANGster. We hope that as our members age out of the group, they go on to mentor new members. We are working on creating opportunities for this to happen.