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Opportunity Ahead 2022: APA’s Steve Tucker

Part 3 in this series features Steve Tucker, president of Automotive Parts Associates.

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For the January 2022 AMN/Counterman cover story, we spoke with a number of distribution, retail and association leaders who shared their outlooks and insights for the aftermarket in 2022. We ask them a few fun “lightning round” questions as well that you won’t want to miss.

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In Part 3 of our Industry Insights series, we hear from Steve Tucker, president of Automotive Parts Associates (APA).

What did your organization accomplish in 2021 that you are most proud of? 

That is a long list!  In addition to bringing on several new team members to our headquarters, I guess I am most proud of the fact that we have been able to grow the group both in volume and in membership. The independent-aftermarket WD is alive and well, and we are proud to be able to capitalize on that point. 

What are your thoughts about the business environment for the automotive aftermarket in 2022?

We see demand continuing to be strong. Despite fuel prices being up, miles driven is still doing well, the car parc continues to grow, and while used-car prices may be softening somewhat, consumers are still investing in their cars and having needed repairs done to keep them on the road. We are all suffering on the supply side and I sincerely hope we can overcome all the issues related to those issues. These supply shortages have forced us to become more creative in finding what we need to service our customers, and, in doing so, we have started relationships with suppliers that we might not have previously known or considered. Vendors are also looking at alternatives to the status quo, and we expect that by mid-year the worst of the supply chain issues will be behind us. 

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Our industry’s technical skills gap (and tech shortage) has been labeled as a huge challenge. But there are some great long-term opportunities for young people in the automotive aftermarket right now, especially in the area of emerging technology, which is going to require that “next-level” tech. How can we better put our industry in the spotlight, and get young students excited about automotive?

Wow, this is my “hot-button” issue for sure. The aftermarket has proven again and again that we can source the parts to fix any technology the OEMs choose to throw at us. Getting access to the information needed to use those parts is something that is mission-critical to our industry, and this goes hand-in-hand with getting the next generation of techs on board and able to service these “high-tech” vehicles going forward. The OEMs have done a great job of partnering with trade schools and creating a great breeding ground for their technician needs. We, as an aftermarket, need to undertake similar initiatives. Additionally, we need to do more to educate independent repair shops not only from a technical perspective but also from a business standpoint. Too many shops undercharge for their services in my opinion and that, in turn, limits what they can offer to “A”-level technicians in terms of salary and benefits, and even working conditions. We all need to join forces and focus on this issue. I truly believe it is the make-or-break topic for our industry. AMN

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LIGHTNING ROUND

What phrase describes your “words to live by?”

Share the credit and take the blame!

What is your dream car, or favorite vehicle you’ve owned?

1968 Cadillac Coupe Deville Convertible

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