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R.L. Polk & Co.’s Ask The Industry Goes to the Aftermarket Financial Symposium

For this edition of Ask The Industry, we visited the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association’s (AAIA) inaugural Aftermarket Financial Symposium in Chicago last week and asked those in attendance to give their impressions on the event overall.

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For this edition of Ask The Industry, we visited the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association’s (AAIA) inaugural Aftermarket Financial Symposium in Chicago last week and asked those in attendance to give their impressions on the event overall.

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Mark Lawlor – Director of Finance, Eastern Warehouse Distributors – Langhorne, PA
[At the symposium], the view from Wall Street seems to be that there are people everywhere looking to buy . This is a very dynamic industry. It’s recession-proof, and it just keeps growing at a faster rate.

Susan Medick – Chief Financial & Operations Officer, AAIA – Bethesda, MD
I’m thrilled with the outcome. [The first day of the symposium] was phenomenal. The buzz around the networking event was very positive. I’ve heard nothing but great things from the sponsors and attendees. Everybody seems to be very excited about the knowledge and is looking forward to coming back next year.
Having a first-time event, you never know what to expect. We had the history of the Global Automotive Aftermarket Symposium and Aftermarket eForum, which were great events. So, I was nervous that this event wouldn’t measure up to those events because the bar has already been set. Our expectations were to make sure that the attendees and the members felt that they had gotten value from this event and we feel that they did. In addition, we’ve felt that this measured up to past events. I’m very pleased.

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Jimsey Keith – Director, University of the Aftermarket, Northwood University – Midland, MI
It’s refreshing to hear people from outside the industry talk so positively about the aftermarket. It made me feel good because we took a lot of knocks over the years. I’m really pleased that I came. Now, it has inspired me to take these positives about our industry, such as Kathleen Schmatz’s presentation or Scott Luckett’s session and package that in a video that we could offer to corporations to show their employees. It would be a great value for those in our industry to see how well others value us.

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After listening to Chris “Chubby” Frederick’s presentation (The Financial Health of Service Dealers) which demonstrated how shop owners increase their profits, we should ask ourselves how can we do the same thing for the jobbers and WDs. Is there somebody doing that? If not, how can we fulfill that type of need.

Summary by Michael Freeze managing editor, aftermarketNews.com:

Having a good start to anything is always a key to success and the Aftermarket Financial Symposium achieved that objective this past week.

Collectively, the financial analysts who spoke during the symposium were very optimistic about the future of the aftermarket despite the overall state of the economy. If anything, this gives great confidence to an industry that has not always been viewed in a favorable light by Wall Street.

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As those outside the industry shared their experiences and insights with attendees, arguably the greatest component was the educational-themed sessions from the industry insiders. There was plenty of useful information around to take back to attendees’ repair shops, manufacturing facilities and jobber stores.

At the end of the day, the symposium seemed to be well-suited for its purpose, in addition to having a solid foundation to build on for next year.

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