BETHESDA, MD — Jan. 1 marked the first day of Kathleen Schmatz’ new role as president and CEO of the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association (AAIA), a trade association representing more than 2,700 companies that manufacture, distribute and sell motor vehicle parts, accessories, tools, equipment, materials, supplies and services.
Schmatz, who has served as AAIA’s executive vice president since January 2002, takes over the role from Al Gaspar, who retired at the end of 2003 after 30 years in the aftermarket industry. Gaspar is president emeritus and will serve as a consultant to the association.
AAIA is one of the only automotive aftermarket trade associations in the U.S. that represents the shared interests of suppliers, distributors, retailers, program groups, manufacturers’ representatives, educators, publishers and other specialized membership organizations.
“Thrilled, excited, eager, humbled, nervous: Pick one or pick them all and that’s how I feel about the privilege and one-of-a-kind opportunity I have to lead the most dynamic and powerful trade association in the automotive industry,” Schmatz said. “I am honored to fill the shoes of an industry icon, one of the most respected and revered individuals in the business, Al Gaspar.”
Schmatz, formerly vice president and group publisher of Babcox in Akron, Ohio, is a nationally recognized advocate of the automotive aftermarket, a sought-after speaker and presenter and an active volunteer on the boards and committees of several trade associations.
She received her master’s degree in mass communication from The University of Akron and her bachelor’s degree from Kent State University. She has been active in many industry groups including AAIA, the Automotive Communications Council, Auto International Association, Car Care Council Women’s Board and several community and civic organizations in Akron.
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