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AWDA Kicks Off Virtual Conference

The hour-long online presentation concluded with a program honoring the recipients of the annual AWDA Industry Awards.

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The Automotive Warehouse Distributors Association (AWDA), a community of the Auto Care Association, yesterday kicked off its first-ever Virtual AWDA Conference. The conference began with opening remarks from AWDA Executive Director Larry Northup as well as a panel discussion moderated by Dave Shapiro, vice president, business development, SRS Marketing Co., which featured the following AWDA leaders talking about their perspectives on this past year:

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  • AWDA Chairman: Mauro Cifelli, president and CEO, Vast-Auto Distribution, Ltd.
  • AWDA Vice Chair: Ryan Samuels, vice president, Samuels Inc./Buy Wise Auto Parts
  • AWDA Secretary: Ashlee Arnold, vice president, Arnold Oil Co. of Austin
  • AWDA Executive Director: Larry Northup

The hour-long online presentation concluded with a program honoring the recipients of the annual AWDA Industry Awards. The annual AWDA Industry awards honor individuals and companies who have shown an exceptional ability to educate, innovate, manage and lead. Over the years, the list of AWDA award recipients has evolved into a who’s-who of aftermarket luminaries.

This year’s winners were recognized at the 2020 AWDA Virtual Experience event with recorded messages from friends and colleagues and a look back at their impact on the industry over the years.

The award winners for this year are:

Outstanding Leadership Award:

Bill Hanvey, president and CEO, Auto Care Association

Paul McCarthy, president and COO, Automotive Aftermarket Suppliers Association 

The AWDA Outstanding Leadership Award is given to an aftermarket professional who has contributed to the industry in a unique and significant way. The award is named in honor of former AWDA President Jack Creamer. This is the first time in 26 years that two individuals have been jointly honored with AWDA’s highest award.

“The past year has witnessed unprecedented challenges for the motor vehicle aftermarket and its two major trade associations,” said Larry Northup, executive director, AWDA. “Hanvey and McCarthy were forced to deal with multiple threats to the viability of their industry and respective associations. The impacts of the successful battle for the Right-to-Repair in Massachusetts, the devastation of COVID-19, the cancellation AAPEX and conversion of most other events to un-tested virtual formats were far-reaching and unprecedented.

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“This a great year to recognize the leadership provided by our associations in tackling industry challenges together and working together for the benefit of all,” said Larry Pavey, CEO, Automotive Parts and Services Group and 2016 winner.

Pursuit of Excellence Award:

• The Merrill Company/Arnold Motor Supply

Established in 1983, the Pursuit of Excellence Award is presented exclusively to AWDA member organizations or their employees for special achievement in areas of business management, marketing advocacy or service.

The Merrill Company and its parent, Arnold Motor Supply, got its start in Spencer, Iowa in 1927. Since then, the company has grown to include 700 associates, serving 118 company and independent auto parts stores and more than 518 dedicated Certified Service Centers across five states. The Merrill Company and Arnold Motor Supply currently operate four distribution centers; 20 machine shops, 3 stand-alone paint, body and equipment locations; one auto re-finish solutions and industrial paint solutions warehouse.

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Excellence in Education Award, in Honor of Art Fisher:

• Bobby Bassett, retired, national training manager, North America, Gates Corp.

AWDA’s Excellence in Education Award is presented to an aftermarket company or individual that demonstrates outstanding commitment to education and training, either within their organization or throughout the industry. Given in memory of former AWDA Chairman Art Fisher, the award grants scholarships in the name of the award winner to two students enrolled in the automotive aftermarket management program at Northwood University.

Bobby Bassett began his career in the motor vehicle aftermarket in 1978 and for 22 years oversaw customer training in both the automotive and heavy-duty markets. In his capacity as national training manager, Bassett was the administrator of Gates’ “Tools for Schools” and Performance Center eLearning platforms. Bassett was a skilled and relentless educator and a familiar figure to countless aftermarket professionals including technicians and high school/community college automotive programs and customers.  

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Lifetime Achievement Award in Honor of Martin Fromm:

• E. Fletcher Lord, Jr., AAP, chairman, Replacement Parts, Inc.

AWDA’s Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes individuals who have, over the course of many years, distinguished themselves through their unselfish commitment to, and high level of performance within, the motor vehicle aftermarket industry. The award is named in honor of former AWDA President, Martin Fromm.

Crow-Burlingame Co. was founded in 1919 by his maternal grandfather, William Robert Crow. After graduating from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, Lord began a lifetime career at the company.  Fletcher is currently Chairman of Replacement Parts, Inc., the holding company of Crow-Burlingame Company and Parts Warehouse, Inc. 

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During the course of his distinguished industry career, Fletcher Lord Jr. has served as Chairman of the Board for the Distributors Institute, the Aftermarket Auto Parts Alliance, the ACDelco Dedicated Distribution Group Steering Committee and the Automotive Warehouse Distributors Association.

To learn more about the AWDA Industry Awards and to view previous winners, click here.

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