Auto Electric Service’s 80th Anniversary celebration kicked off with a supplier appreciation evening that featured formal presentations and an entertaining panel discussion hosted by AES’s Jennifer Fox (far right) and featuring (l-r) Aftermarket Auto Parts Alliance president and CEO John R. Washbish, AES president and CEO Bob Jaworski, and AIA Canada president JF Champagne.
Auto Electric Service marked 80 years of serving Saskatchewan’s automotive aftermarket, showing appreciation for its customers and vendor partners with celebrations and a well-attended trade show.
Bob Jaworski, president and CEO of Auto Electric Service, speaking at a supplier appreciation dinner that preceded a day-long trade show for customers, voiced particular appreciation for vendor partners for their dedication through the challenges of the pandemic.
“I am pleased to see that we’re moving past those challenges, and supply and shipping rates are getting back to pre-pandemic levels. That means we can all refocus our attention in the aftermarket, and continuing to bring added value to our automotive service providers. We can help them to successfully repair vehicles in this challenging and technical marketplace.
“This evening is about the appreciation that our company and our staff have for our value partners who are in the room this evening, as well as for all your staff who do an outstanding job, providing us good parts, training materials, sales calls, and everything else that goes into making sure that we can service our customer base.
“I’d request one thing from our vendors who are here tonight, and that is to make a special note and pass this thank-you onto the people in your companies, who provide us with such great service on a daily basis. Too often, the people back in the offices that are warehouses never hear the ‘Thank yous’ that they deserve for all their hard work and care. Our partnership with your companies is something we are very proud of, and hopefully you are of us as well. A strong partnership should always make sure all parties are recognized for their contributions.”
The event also heard presentations by AIA Canada president JF Champagne, who provided updates on Right to Repair and labour force initiatives.
“It’s a resilient industry that really helped Canadians to carry through the last pandemic. And that’s what we do as your voice. It also assures that we have a sustainable and growing industry. They will continue to ensure that we are in fact able to provide the parts, the service, the repairs of the vehicle of today and of tomorrow. We need to guarantee that there will continue to be consumer choice, that people will continue to be able to get their car serviced where they want to get their car serviced.
“Our growth depends on maintaining that consumer choice and a competitive marketplace. That’s what the association does: making sure that that voice is heard.”
Special guest John R. Washbish, president and CEO of the Aftermarket Auto Parts Alliance (of which Auto Electric Service is a shareholder member) entertained attendees with some lighthearted ribbing, but also gave full sincere thanks to their Canadian partners for a strong 2022 performance.
“I’d like to thank all the vendors and all of the Alliance Canadian shareholders for a 2022 that was off the charts. Really, really great numbers – and we couldn’t have had great numbers if y’all couldn’t have shipped, and you shipped, and it was tough. But as the year went on, you got better and better and we sure saw that in the results. So a real tip of the hat to the vendor community for the excellent job that you did during COVID and coming out of that.”
Washbish also went on to detail the recently forged joint venture with the Federated group, which includes shared ownership in The Automotive Parts Services Group, a joint venture with The ProntoNetwork.
That agreement, he says, is often misunderstood and mischaracterized as a merger.
“We did not merge with anyone. We have a joint venture. And for those of you that don’t know the difference, open the dictionary and read it because there’s a major difference in how the game’s played.
“Why did we do this? Our efforts with Federated are simply to help us all sell more parts. And as the market is consolidating on the installation side, they’re not opening more Bob’s Repair Shops. That business model is changing.
“And just as a lot of the distribution business has gone from family-owned to other than family, a lot of the installation business is changing like that too. And when they do, they choose companies that can service all of their locations.”
Washbish said that the Alliance and Federated groups separately faced a barrier, as neither could serve U.S. national service chains on their own.
“The Alliance, we’re about 65%. So we go to give the pitch, we’re really good in the 65%, but what do we do about the rest? And if Federated guys go and give the pitch, they’re about 45%.
“Well, now with the affiliation that we’ve developed with Federated, along with The ProntoNetwork, we have the leading distribution group in North America. We’ve got more dots on the map than anybody. So if you want parts in 30 minutes or less, we be your people.”