Two industry icons, Clay Buzzard and Walter Spence, were honored by the Automotive Warehouse Distributors Association (AWDA) with the Martin Fromm Lifetime Achievement Award at AWDA’s 2013 annual conference Nov. 3. Presenting the award was the 2012 award winner, Jack Creamer.
This very selective award recognizes individuals who, over the course of many years, distinguished themselves through their commitment to, and high level of performance within, the motor vehicle aftermarket. Recipients of this award are considered to be “backbones” of the aftermarket industry.
This criteria certainly applies to the 2013 recipients, but sadly, the aftermarket industry lost both Walt Spence and Clay Buzzard this past year; Buzzard in February and Spence in April.
Born in Braddock, Pa., Clay Buzzard is best known for his leadership of Mid-Atlantic Warehouse, widely known as “MAWDI,” which he acquired in 1963. In his 40 years at the company’s helm, Buzzard grew MAWDI into one of the industry’s largest and most successful independent parts distributors. The company was sold to Uni-Select in 2004.
A decorated WWII veteran, Buzzard was also a champion of industry education and the need to constantly maintain and grow a vibrant aftermarket workforce. He was instrumental in forming the University of the Aftermarket Foundation and was a generous donor. He served on the Foundation Board until his passing. Over the years, Buzzard also was deeply involved in AWDA and numerous other industry organizations.
A lifelong native of Florida, Walter Spence was trained as a pharmacist and served six years as a pharmacy officer with the U.S. Air Force. He joined Tri-States Automotive Warehouse Inc. as VP of sales and operations in 1973, and in 1975 was named president. In 1982, Spence and his wife Libby purchased the company along with Ronnie and Cathy Stevens.
Not content to simply run one of the finest WD operations in the country, Spence actively embraced the industry and many of its supporting organizations. Over a long career, Spence served on the boards of the Florida Automotive Industry Association, Auto Value, Aftermarket Auto Parts Alliance and AWDA. He also was very active in his local Rotary Club and Chamber of Commerce.
Both of the 2013 award winners were known as true gentlemen of the aftermarket and beloved by many of their peers and business associates. They knew and respected one another and, according to Creamer, would have been extremely pleased to see each other recognized in such a meaningful way.