The Automotive Aftermarket Association of the Southeast (AAAS) hosted its 2017 Conference and Trade Show from June 8 -- June 11 at the Sandestin Village of Baytowne Wharf in Destin, FL.
AAAS President Randal Ward was enthusiastic about the success of the event.
"This year's event went really well,” he said. “We saw an increase in attendance from members in all four states, as well as sponsors and trade show participants from all over the country. Attendees enjoyed their time, learned a lot, and were able to discuss many issues with the speakers and trade show representatives. We believe the event was a great success!
"The success of our annual conference and trade show can be attributed to three key factors,” he continued. “First is the support from our members. Our attendees (members, sponsors, speakers and guests) are engaged and make the most of every opportunity presented. The time spent at the conference just scratches the surface of the impact this program has. These folks take the information they gain and the relationships they build back to their businesses. There's a positive ripple effect that is felt throughout association and industry.
“Secondly, we have the best network of sponsors (listed below) and trade show representatives,” he continued. “A majority of our sponsors have been around for many years. They support us generously throughout the year and really step up to make our conference a success. The final component that contributes to our success is our Top Tier speakers with valuable, timely and relevant information to share.”
"We are very fortunate to have such a unique and successful formula for our association and our annual conference,” added Jarrett Liles of Connie Liles Auto Parts in Tallahassee, FL. “We find with such engaged members and sponsors, our guest speakers find our group captivating and, in turn, learn a lot about our association. They tend to stick around and gain a special appreciation for our members and AAAS. It is truly a win-win situation. Of course, it doesn't hurt to have a location like Sandestin.”
During AAAS's Board of Directors meeting, the association elected this term’s officers. Keith West was elected to lead the Board of Directors as Chairman with Sid Dooley of Associate Jobbers Warehouse in Boaz, AL, serving as First Vice Chairman and Joe Ward filling the spot for Second Vice Chairman. Jarrett Liles will assume the role of Immediate Past Chairman, while Bill Lewis will aid AAAS as Treasurer.
The AAAS Education Foundation (AAASEF) reported that 24 scholarships have been awarded to member company employees and family members this year.
"In the few short years of the Foundation's existence, we have awarded tens of thousands of dollars in scholarships, and we now have five endowed scholarships,” AAASEF Trustee Liz Barrett-Burleson said. “This program is performing a great service in assisting people furthering their educations and hopefully helping individuals prepare for a future in the aftermarket industry."
AAAS held a Welcome Reception on Thursday evening where attendees enjoyed meeting, reuniting and networking with one another. Friday morning featured a fishing expedition aboard the Relentless.
"No tall tales here,” said AAAS Florida Operations Director George Ehrhard in regards to the expedition. “The anglers in the group brought home beautiful red snappers and other terrific catches as usual. They had a wonderful day out in the Gulf."
AAAS invited the Young Auto Care Network Group (YANG) to Friday night’s reception. YANG is a segment of the Auto Care Association (ACA) that allows young industry professionals to network with peers to enhance their knowledge and improve leadership capabilities.
"AAAS and YANG have unique perspectives of the aftermarket industry," West said. "This was a great opportunity to share that knowledge and build relationships that will only strengthen the industry."
Saturday morning's focus was on the Business Meeting segment of the event and featured a lineup of knowledgeable industry speakers. Michael Klein, Chairman of ACA's Board of Directors, delivered a presentation on the state of the auto care industry, as well as the present and future opportunities facing AAAS members. He also shared his perspective on hybrid/electric vehicles, online/e-tailing, emerging technology, and telematics.
"Technology and legislative issues are quickly having a profound effect on the aftermarket industry,” West said. “Perhaps now more than ever, it is important for aftermarket businesses to stay informed and ready to work together with one another and similar organizations to ensure that the aftermarket remains a free, fair and competitive industry."
Roger Spain from Oakworth Capital Bank led a discussion about business valuation, including why it is important throughout the life of the business and ownership.
"Spain's discussion related to all attendees, regardless of their business size or structure, and gave the audience the motivation and information to take the steps necessary to prepare for a business valuation of their own,” Ward said.