Publisher's Statement - December 2012
Industry Week — industry strong
Ten years ago, to the month, this was the title of this Publisher’s Statement upon returning from Automotive Aftermarket Industry Week (AAIW). After a difficult year, on many levels, following the collapse of the three World Trade Center towers in New York City on 9/11, there was concern and apprehension regarding the business climate at the shows and about the business year ahead.
But, almost immediately upon arrival, it was evident that the collective resolve, purpose, and confidence of this remarkable vehicle parts and service industry was intact and prepared to surmount the obstacles and challenges ahead, short- and long-term. And, so it did.
Approaching AAIW 2012, the apprehension, although not nearly as dramatic and gut-wrenching, was reminiscent to that of 10 years ago. Would the state of the economy, domestic and global, undercut by financial fraud, debt, unemployment, and fear of inflation, stifle and smother the progress and momentum accrued over the decade? Apparently, it did not.
Once again, 10 years later, the industry demonstrated a collective, confident stride toward a future recalibrated to the technologies and supply chain complexities inherent in a global industry. Steeped in tradition, positioned for potential, the industry displayed dynamic direction dedicated to overcoming the challenges and obstacles that lie ahead.
A pre-registered attendance of 136,000, supplemented by walk-up registration, were treated to product introductions, overview perspectives, network opportunities, cutting-edge technologies, training, exhibitors from around the world, and an overriding sense of assurance that this industry will remain vital and successful well into the future.
Existing conditions were aptly characterized during AAIW as including both headwinds and tailwinds. While vehicle age and deferred maintenance are favorable, it’s miles driven and the changing costs of doing business, raw materials, and energy that are of more immediate concern, it seems.
On the street, however, it’s momentum, customer contact, and maintaining professionalism to the extent affordable that call the tune. Casting a wider net for additional customers, through increased marketing efforts or an expanded menu of services, can offset a diminished customer base that results from local or regional economies. For many, the access to commercial lines of credit remains critical, too.
Many are again realizing the strength of channel partners to be increasingly important. Whether it is hitching your wagon to a star or improving overall channel relations, adding synergy to your business with channel partners, singular advancement can trump general economic conditions. In a highly competitive climate, selecting channel partners, your vendors and suppliers, can make a critical difference.
At a time when small businesses are under siege, the annual holiday season arrives. It is a time of charitable consideration, community, and renewal of spirit. The characteristics of the American holiday season are similar, in many ways, to the essential characteristics of American small, local, and regional businesses.
Although depicted in more innocent times, the lessons of Frank Capra’s holiday classic, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” ring as true as holiday bells. It’s all about caring for others, customers, community, co-workers, close relations, and doing the right thing. Our best wishes to you for a safe and happy holiday season.