Derek Suen, recipient of the 2020 Young Leader of the Year Award, has dedicated the honour to the late Roy Shannon, a cornerstone of Atlantic Canada’s automotive aftermarket who passed away earlier this year.
The Young Leader of the Year Award is presented by the AIA Canada’s Young Professionals in the Aftermarket Committee. The award was announced at the AIA Canada AGM, held online April 29.
Derek is currently the manager of the New Product Development Team at Dorman Products. With almost 10 years of product management experience, he has become obsessed with innovation. Prior to Dorman, he worked for several multinational corporations holding positions in accounting, finance and supply chain.
During his tenure in the aftermarket, he spent many hours touring the Atlantic region with Shannon, a five-decade aftermarket veteran, and credits him with providing a foundation for his approach to business.
“If you ever had the opportunity to work with him, you’d know that there’s absolutely nothing he wouldn’t do for you. Likewise, you felt compelled that there would be nothing you wouldn’t do for him,” says Derek.
“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,” he told Jobber Nation earlier this year, following Shannon’s passing.
“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.
“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.”
In accepting the award, Derek emphasized important lessons he retained from his time with Shannon.
“Often you don’t realize the impact someone has on you until they are gone. His simple yet effective formula of success is one that I will cherish forever: Check the ego; Always do more than what’s expected; Build strong relationships to weather any storm.”
Derek graduated from Wilfrid Laurier University with an honours degree in Economics in 2006 and returned a decade later to complete his Master of Business Administration in 2017 while working full-time.
He admits to a love-hate relationship with spreadsheets, but says too that his roles over the years have helped build business acumen.
He and his wife currently reside in Toronto and will soon be expecting a new addition to their family next month. He is also an active member of the AIA Canada’s Young Professionals in the Aftermarket committee.