For many in the automotive aftermarket, Roy Shannon was Atlantic Canada. Throughout a career spanning five decades and roles with manufacturers, distributors and sales agencies, he continued to exemplify the values of industry support, customer commitment and mentorship valued so highly by the industry.
On Wednesday, January 8, while at home preparing to host a customer appreciation night at a local hockey arena, James Roy Shannon succumbed to a heart attack. He was 72.
He leaves behind his wife, Ruth, daughter Jamie (Adam), mother-in-law Bea Mealey (lovingly known as Chuck); siblings Sue Hunter (Bob), Ann Campbell, Brian Shannon (Barb), Richard Shannon (Brenda); sisters-in-law Barb Galbraith (Paul), Jane Mealey and Anita Phillips; as well as many much-loved nieces, nephews, extended family and dear cousins.
Roy was predeceased by his parents Don and Rita, his first wife Kathy and her mother, Granny Bea, and his brother Larry.
Roy’s career in the automotive aftermarket began with the Woolco Auto Dept. in the 1970s and moved through a variety of roles in the aftermarket over several decades with manufacturers, distributors and jobbers.
He worked with Cooper Automotive, which became Federal-Mogul, starting in 1993, and took on general manager duties at distributor A.P.M. Limited, following his retirement from Federal-Mogul in 2005.
“He was probably one of the first people I met in 1997 when I joined the business,” says Douglas Squires, president of Colonial Auto Parts Limited in St. John’s, NF. “He was with Federal-Mogul then. When we bought [New Brunswick-based] APM in 2005, we were already good friends.
“If I ever needed anything with regards to knowledge, or needed to know what was going on, I would call Roy. He was very tuned in to the industry. He absolutely loved the industry and everybody in it. I considered him a very close friend.”
After eight years with APM, Roy moved on to work with manufacturers’ representative Zurawel Patton Sample (ZPS).
“For me it’s more about the friendship than just a professional relationship,” says Bill Sample, co-owner of ZPS. “He was definitely one of the good guys. He was usually three steps ahead when it came to serving customers. He was always on point. He looked out for you in ways you never expected.
“He was just that kind of guy. He looked after people; always did the right thing. People looked up to him, called him for advice. He truly valued his relationships.”
“Roy was Atlantic Canada,” says Duane Zurawel, co-owner of ZPS. “He was one of the best-known reps and one of the most liked. He was a hard worker and dedicated family man. Just an all around great guy. It’s a loss for ZPS and the automotive industry.”
His experience and infectious enthusiasm for the industry put him in the position of mentor to many entering the industry.
One of those was Derek Suen, in New Product Development with Dorman Products.
“I came to my company in 2010. It was a new industry for me. I connected with Roy when he was the GM of APM. He tutored me on customers, the ASPs, and the technicians. That started our relationship.
“Over time we started working on a more regular, direct basis. His territory was the entire East, and there were times it was just the two of us in a car for a week, driving. You really get to know someone with all that windshield time. What I found interesting with Roy was, he was very well rounded. Automotive was his passion, but we would talk about all kinds of things. When I bought my house, he gave me great tips for building my deck. And people might not know how knowledgeable he was about music.
“Everyone had this respect for him. He brought a level of comfort and ease. He talked a lot about his daughter, Jamie. When he wasn’t with family, he was talking about them.
“I remember a time when we were in St. John’s for the Colonial Auto Parts sales meeting. We were on George Street and a bunch of aftermarket competitors came in and we would all hang out together. He was friends with everybody. He treated everybody with the same degree of respect.
“I feel like I’ve lost a good friend more than a colleague. You don’t realize the impact of a person until you hear news like this. That’s the hardest part.”
Arrangements are under the care of Brenan’s Funeral Home, 111 Paradise Row, Saint John, N.B. (506) 634-7424. Visitation will be held on Saturday, January 18, 2020 at the Kingston Trinity Church Hall from 12:00 – 2:00 and will be immediately followed by a funeral service in Trinity Church Kingston at 2:30. Donations in Roy’s memory may be made to MacDonald Consolidated School Student Lunch Program, Hampton High School Student Lunch Program, a local food bank of choice, or to a charity of the donor’s choice. Online condolences may be made at www.BrenansFH.com.