Northwood University has announced that it has hired an industry veteran to serve in a new role supporting automotive aftermarket education.
“We are thrilled to welcome James O’Dell as our new assistant director of aftermarket education,” stated Kristin Stehouwer, academic vice president and provost of Northwood University. “His professional experiences and network, along with that of our new University of Aftermarket executive director, will usher in an age of growth for our aftermarket programs, which will benefit the entire automotive industry.”
The automotive aftermarket includes vehicle parts, equipment, replacement tires, service repair, collision repair, and accessories sold after the sale of the original vehicle. The Auto Care Association, which represents the entire automotive aftermarket, estimates the auto care industry is a $400 billion industry with over 4.5 million workers.
“As our vehicle park continues to increase in age, and our miles driven have reached a new record high, opportunities in the automotive aftermarket continue to grow at a rapid pace,” stated O’Dell, who has served as the business development manager for Fisher Auto Parts in Ann Arbor, Michigan, since 2019.
“I am proud to join Northwood. Its aftermarket program, and the Northwood Idea, are truly unique in the country,” O’Dell added. “It inspires human potential through education and opportunity which uniquely prepares its students to make a difference and be successful. This is evident in that nearly one hundred percent of Northwood aftermarket graduates are employed — and their average salary is nearly $63,000.”
In October, Northwood named Dr. Thomas Litzinger as the executive director of the University of the Aftermarket. Litzinger is an accomplished high-performing executive with over 30 years of leadership experience.
“Dr. Litzinger and James O’Dell are industry professionals with diverse experience and skills to lead aftermarket education,” Stehouwer stated. “Their strong associations and ability to form new relationships across the industry will allow Northwood to collaborate with all segments to produce even more career-ready students.”
O’Dell noted Litzinger is not just an industry expert; he has the academic achievement to lead and inspire students in Northwood’s undergraduate programs and those in the University of Aftermarket, which provides industry-specific professional development to those working in the industry. He is also proficient in researching and publishing new studies relevant to the industry.
Litzinger will lead an effort to develop a new curriculum for the University of the Aftermarket just as Northwood is reinvigorating its aftermarket education through these new hires and a new curriculum.
“The investments Northwood is making in aftermarket education shows the university is responsive to the industry’s feedback, and it is stewarding its resources well for the good of the industry,” O’Dell stated.