DALLAS, TEXAS —
Every other week, aftermarketNews.com offers an interview with a high-profile individual in the automotive aftermarket. We give executives free rein to express their views on anything from the state of their corporations to recent legislative news to future trends in their niche markets. Here you see what matters to the newsmakers themselves.
Our latest edition of “Executive Interview” features Steve Christie, executive director of the Automotive Oil Change Association (AOCA). Christie has served as executive director of AOCA since 1992. With more than 20 years of progressive management experience in trade associations, professional societies and issue oriented organizations, Christie has led the AOCA to dramatic growth in membership and revenues during his tenure as head of the 1,200 plus member organization.
Since becoming executive director, Christie has developed innovative membership campaigns and benefit programs. He also introduced new convention programming and promotional campaigns that resulted in significant increases in convention attendance, as well as trade show booth sales.
Christie also initiated two revised technical certification programs in 2001 that resulted in a substantial increase in the number of certified technicians. Among his other achievements at the AOCA has been the initiation of a pro-active government affairs program dealing with regulatory and legislative issues affecting the fast lube industry.
Prior to his current position, Christie served as president of The Association Group, a Dallas, Texas-based association management firm he founded in 1987 which provided full service and project management functions for local, state and national organizations.
From 1984 to 1987, Christie served as executive director of the International Communications Association in Dallas, an international trade association representing large business users of telecommunications products and services. He has also served as executive director of the Chicago Regional Purchasing Council (1977-84) and was the associate director of the National Minority Supplier Development Council from 1975-77. In 1969, Christie started working for Continental Bank in Chicago as a Division Manager, where he worked until 1975.
Last week, Christie took some time to give us a ‘virtual’ tour of the AOCA, the services it provides as well as its plans for the future. Read on to learn more about the AOCA and the important projects on which the association is currently focusing.
Please provide some background on the AOCA and the services it provides its members.
The AOCA was founded in 1987 as a non-profit trade organization representing the convenient automotive maintenance industry. AOCA is dedicated to enhancing the competency of fast lube owners, educating the public about services our members offer and maintaining a favorable business environment for the industry as a whole.
Emphasizing education, the AOCA provides expert technical training for lube center employees. For the business owners and managers the organization provides programs designed to enhance management skills, automotive engineering and industry issues. The association also serves as a resource of information for consumers regarding the benefits of regular, preventive maintenance in protecting their automotive investment.
AOCA has more than 1,200 members representing more than 3,000 auto maintenance centers throughout the U.S., Canada and several other countries.
The AOCA recently held its board of directors meeting and awards reception in Washington, D.C. How did that go?
We held our annual legislative summit as well as our awards reception on Sept. 14 in Washington and it was a very successful day. Our board of directors got a chance to visit many congressmen to discuss the AOCA goals and objectives. We found a very receptive audience to our message.
That night we held our annual legislative reception where we honored Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) with the AOCA’s Automotive Service Industry Champion Award. Rep. Sessions was honored for all his efforts on behalf of establishing an official Superfund Service Station Dealer Exemption application process for environmentally responsible small business automotive service facilities. He has been at the forefront of helping small business owners across the country and has been extremely helpful to the AOCA. This award shows our appreciation for all his efforts.
In addition to Rep. Sessions, we were fortunate to have three other congressmen attend the reception: Rep. Henry E. Brown Jr. (R-SC), Rep. Michael Capuano (D-MA) and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA).
Can you provide us more information about the Superfund Service Station Dealer Exemption?
The Service Station Dealer Exemption from Superfund liability is a public policy exemption intended to protect environmentally responsible automotive service center facilities, like fast lubes. In return for acting as collection points for DIYer used motor oil and following prescribed management standards, facilities like fast lubes and services stations can be exempted from third party liability if a recycling facility becomes a Superfund site. The fast lube industry alone collects over a million gallons of DIY used oil annually.
Can you explain what the AOCA-Talk system is?
AOCA-Talk is an open e-mail forum, commonly called a listserv, for AOCA members where a subscriber can post a question and it automatically forwards to all other subscribers. Subscribers who want to answer the question can reply either to the entire group or just to the individual who posted the question. Subscribers may exchange information concerning business practices, problems experienced with particular cars, regulatory issues or association related activities.
In fact, our members raised $10,000 through AOCA-Talk to help fast lube employees who were hit by Hurricane Charley.
Not only is the AOCA-Talk system a valuable educational tool, but in this situation, it was used as a means to bring the industry together to help fellow members during a time of need.
Will you be attending AAPEX this year?
Yes, AOCA will have a booth at AAPEX where we’ll be presenting our educational programs and membership benefits to the industry. In fact, our entire board will be there. We’re holding our board meeting during one day of the show.
What are some of the goals and initiatives for the AOCA in 2005?
We’re setting 2005 as a year of growth. We’re introducing new Internet-based training to facilitate employee training and professional service for the fast lube industry. With this and several other new initiatives, our goal is to grow and bring the benefits of AOCA membership to more and more fast lube operators. The fast lube industry provides essential, high quality maintenance services to the motoring public. AOCA is the point of unification for our industry.
To learn more about AOCA, go to: www.aoca.org.
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