“Are we ready?”
I recently had the good fortune to travel to Little Rock, Arkansas, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of a parts distribution partner. This celebration was to commemorate 100 years of Crow-Burlingame, the second-largest privately held auto parts distribution business in the country. The company was founded by W.R. “Bob” Crow in 1919. A Bumper to Bumper member of the Aftermarket Auto Parts Alliance, the two organizations held a joint business conference and centennial celebration last week in Little Rock.
During the initial kickoff celebration, Bill Schlatterer, president and CEO of Crow-Burlingame, spoke aloud the line above, which is what he often asks employees as he travels around the seven states Crow-Burlingame services. He asks his employees, “Do you think we are ready for the future?”
In today’s world of hyperspeed change, it seems like a valuable question to ponder.
The festivities included two days of seminars for employees, wholesale parts customers – both company-owned and affiliated store locations – plus independent repair facilities that purchase parts from both.
Seminars included such topics as:
- How to be effective and think strategically for store managers
- Successful new employees
- How to use the My Place for Parts portal
- How to turn potential into performance
- As well as many individual vendor product reviews and sales seminars
Friday night included a vendor show with displays of products and representatives to discuss products and provide information about them. The night’s theme was “Through the Decades,” and each vendor chose a time period to dress up as. There was a lot of creativity. All night long there were mock horse races to fun-wager on, and the night concluded with plenty of prizes.
Saturday morning started the 100-year presentation and was kicked off by Schlatterer with a review and history of the company. It was fascinating to hear about the path the company has taken and the changes that have occurred over the years.
John Washbish, president of the Aftermarket Auto Parts Alliance, was on hand to present congratulations on behalf of Bumper to Bumper and led the group in a game of “Kahoot.” Questions centered on the company history, and winners left richer than they came. The final part of Saturday’s meeting included the announcement of changes in leadership. Schlatterer referred to this as the change “from gray hair to dark hair.”
In addition to the appointment of Fletcher Lord III as president, Senior Purchasing Manager Ben Butler has been named chief operating officer and Crow Lord, currently serving as district manager, has been named vice president regional sales.
Lord closed the meeting with a talk on change and how important it has been for their company and how important it will be going into the future.
Saturday Night’s festivities concluded with a vendor award dinner and celebration.
I have to say, after being a part of this awesome celebration, “Yes, Bill, you all are ready for the future.”