With more than 70 percent of its membership in attendance, the 28th Annual Automotive Parts Associates (APA) Shareholders’ & Manufacturers’ Conference, held Mar. 5-7 in Phoenix, proved successful in proclaiming that this group is serious about supercharging their businesses through networking and sharing best practices, and participation in educational sessions even during these tough economic times. The event took place at the new Renaissance Glendale Hotel and Spa.
While the meeting got jump-started with a golf tournament on Thursday, central to the program’s mission were the Manufacturer One-on-Ones held Friday, where APA shareholder members met with APA vendors to discuss concerns or issues and garner business-building ideas. Attendees also had the chance to win thousands in cash prize giveaways on the hour, and APA vendors had the opportunity discuss new products and promotions.
Meanwhile, spouses enjoyed the traditional spouse program; this year, a trip to historic downtown Glendale for an afternoon of shopping and lunch at a Mexican restaurant, and a tour of the internationally acclaimed Heard Museum.
Amidst networking and camaraderie at provided breakfasts, lunches and receptions, guests also attended the general session on Saturday morning where recognition and awards abounded. Three new board members were applauded and APA board election results were announced. Dan Freeman, APA president and CEO, who was acknowledged for 20 years of service to the association at the opening reception on Thursday evening, also recognized eight new members, who each received new member plaques.
The general session also included a Recognition Awards Ceremony that acknowledged:
Vendor of the Year MAS Industries;
Branded Vendor of the Year Centric Parts; and
Outstanding Marketing Partner KYB.
Two board members were also recognized for service to APA:
Jeff Levine, Levine Auto & Truck Parts; and
Wayne Pare, Chicopee Automotive Warehouse.
In addition, two members celebrating 50 years or more in the business, were recognized with an Automotive Aftermarket Service Award:
70 years Automotive Products, Inc., accepted by Linda Rawlings, Portland, Ore.; and
57 years Morris Automotive Supply, accepted by Randall Swedlove, Fontana, Calif.
Following the general session, Rod Bayless of Activant discussed the importance of customer service and merchandising, and encouraged the WD shareholders to partner with their installer customers to help them work smarter and sell more parts, and provide “intelligence” about failure spikes on certain models.
He also discussed helping installer customers increase their average revenue per repair order; target new customers; increase gross profit and optimize their parts supply chain.
Also during the event, attendees enjoyed an energetic and animated “Winning Through Faster Teamwork” presentation by keynote speaker Derek Daly, a native of Ireland who won the 1977 British Formula Three Championship and competed as a professional F1 and IndyCar driver for 17 years.
Daly stressed to the audience the importance of valuing speed as a “core competency” and “competitive tool” in their businesses and removing the “speed bumps” that slow you down.
Since those of us in business are in a corporate “race” every day, he challenged attendees in saying: “Can you get comfortable being uncomfortable?” and “How fast can you get fast?”
He outlined these necessary skill sets for businesses to succeed today:
1. Preparation ask yourself, where are you on the starting grid today?
2. Adapt and change don’t get paralyzed making a decision to change. Said Daly: “Those who never made a mistake never made anything.”
3. Creative/innovation look for new ways to beat the competition; encourage employees to harvest and present ideas, and share information and techniques.
He summed up his presentation with these inspiring one-liners: We must become the change we want to see in our companies. Make a commitment to excellence. Sacrifice today for the big gain tomorrow.”
A professional Excel trainer capped off the day’s formal activities by providing useful Excel 2003 tips and shortcuts.