As the automotive aftermarket and other sectors of the economy have emerged from the darkest days of the COVID-19 pandemic through 2022, it should not come as a great surprise that rather than feeling like a return to normal, it has seemed like another extended period of upheaval.
With staffing challenges, supply chain stresses, and of course the accompanying inflationary pressures, this past year has without a doubt unfolded as one of the most challenging business environments of recent times.
The automotive aftermarket’s most pressing challenge is to meet the demand at its doorstep – and to do so in such a way as to maintain its service to its customers, its community, and of course the staff and ownership of every individual business.
This is no small task and often requires a balancing act that even the most astute multitasker will find daunting. And yet, throughout all of that, it is so heartening to see that not only are so many Canadian aftermarket organizations keeping pace, but they’re pressing forward with expansion in both the scale and scope of their businesses.
The expansion of distribution capabilities like the recently opened Carquest/Worldpac facility north of Toronto, the Lordco Auto Parts new head office and distribution centre in Port Coquitlam, or significant investments in the creation of forward-looking programs like the EV- focused NAPA NexDrive, are high-profile examples. But new signage like Auto Electric Service has installed the eve of its 80th anniversary, or the many store-level refits that we have tracked over the last couple of years, and the ongoing expansions and updates and training investments by ASPs across Canada, suggest more than the commitment of owners and management.
It also demonstrates their confidence in the ongoing health of the automotive aftermarket, both today and down the road.
Many years ago, a foundational executive in Canada’s modern automotive aftermarket (if I can call it that) told me bluntly over dinner that it was really important that what people understood, beyond all of the philanthropy and community involvement that are a cornerstone in so many organizations, was that the aftermarket was an industry in which you could run an honest, profitable business.
Actually, what he said was, “You gotta tell people that they can make money in the aftermarket.”
I haven’t forgotten that message.
The motivation for much of what we do here at CHAT, as well as I’m sure what you do in your business, is to make a positive difference to the industry, to the community, and to ensure you’re making lives better; at the end of the day, you need to be able to run a viable business to keep doing those things.
The aftermarket is doing a wonderful job of combining all of those aspects – both on a larger macro scale as well as on the local community-level issues that we all hold so close to heart, especially at this time of the year.
That is a testament to the ongoing commitment of every individual in the aftermarket, whatever their role. The automotive aftermarket is a really good position to keep serving its owners, its staff, its communities, and Canada’s drivers for the foreseeable future. Well done.
Here’s wishing everyone a wonderful, prosperous, healthy 2023.