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Thursday, 12 July 2018 21:21

AAAS 2018 Annual Conference & Trade Show Proves To Be Exceptional

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A group of anglers enjoyed a morning of fishing aboard The Relentless. A group of anglers enjoyed a morning of fishing aboard The Relentless.


From June 7--10, the Automotive Aftermarket Association Southeast (AAAS) held its 2018 Annual Conference and Trade Show at the Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort in Miramar Beach, FL.

The event attracted members eager to network with industry peers, engage in valuable learning opportunities and enjoy a relaxing time with family and friends. 


According to AAAS Board of Directors Chairman Keith West, “This year’s event was exceptional, as the Automotive Aftermarket Association Southeast is celebrating its 80th year serving the automotive aftermarket. This year’s schedule of events included many opportunities to gather valuable information and network in a beautiful venue, as well as golf and deep-sea fish!”

The conference began on Thursday evening with a cocktail reception, which provided participants with a chance to meet or reconnect with other industry professionals in attendance. The following morning, The Relentless took a group out for a fishing expedition. 

“We headed out on the water in hopes of catching Red Snapper, Vermillion Snapper, Trigger Fish and more. The trip provided a great morning of fishing, and the boat limited out on snapper and a record number of keepers,” said Joe Ward, AAAS first vice chairman.

AAAS hosted a reception for the Young Auto Care Network Group (YANG) on Friday night.

AAAS Director of Government Relations and YANG member Matt Ward shared, “YANG has given me a great avenue to network with and meet other industry peers, many of whom I consider to already be leaders in this industry. It is exciting to be in a room full of YANG members that are excited about what they do and the industry they work for. You cannot attend a YANG event and not be optimistic about the future of the automotive aftermarket.”

The educational portion of the conference took place on Saturday morning. One of the highlights of the morning was Tom Shay of Profits Plus Solutions presenting “Strategies to Win in a Challenging Economy” and “Characteristics of a Successful Business.” The presentations were sponsored by Highline Automotive.

Tom Tucker, director of state government affairs for the Auto Care Association, delivered “a compelling and informative presentation on the state of the auto care industry and the opportunities AAAS members face now and in the near future. Tucker’s discussion included emerging technology and regulations,” West recounted.


“Technology and legislative issues are quickly having a profound effect on the aftermarket industry. Perhaps now more than ever, it is essential for aftermarket businesses to stay informed and ready to work with each other and similar organizations to ensure that the aftermarket remains a free, fair and competitive industry.


"Attendees were able to visit with the guest speakers and learn from the many vendors in attendance throughout the morning and during breaks between speakers.”

Attendees enjoyed an afternoon of relaxation, with many participating in the Annual Golf Tournament at Baytowne Golf Club. The tournament was sponsored by Federated Insurance, with proceeds benefitting the association’s foundation (AAASF). 

According to AAAS President Randal Ward, “The weather was ideal; the players enjoyed themselves, and money was raised to fund scholarships and other great causes.”

Saturday evening concluded with dinner and a silent auction that also benefitted the AAASF and was hosted by Michael Morgan, chairman of AAAS Foundation Board of Trustees. 

West stated, “As usual, AAAS members stepped up to raise funds for a great cause. AAASF awarded 23 scholarships this year to deserving students pursuing technical certifications and post-secondary degrees. Several members and sponsors donated auction items, and many more enjoyed the fun, camaraderie and atmosphere by bidding generously. At the end of the evening, AAASF trustees raised over $6,000 for the foundation.”

During the evening’s events, West recognized Steve Kampwerth, president and CEO of Auto Electric and Carburetor, with the title of Director Emeritus, the highest honor given to AAAS volunteer leaders. 

West shared, “Steve has served in numerous AAAS board and leadership positions since 2002. Kampwerth served as the Chairman of the AAAS Employee Benefit Fund during a time of tremendous turmoil as changes in health insurance regulation shook the foundations of group health insurance nationwide. He worked diligently with the board members, legislators, regulators and staff to navigate the health program through the toughest years it had ever faced. As a result, the AAAS Employee Benefit Fund did not just survive, but instead is stronger than ever and a cherished, invaluable benefit for our members.

“Kampwerth has also played a vital role in the association’s workers’ compensation programs and in the growth of the AAAS Foundation, which has awarded tens of thousands of dollars in scholarships in its short 13 years of existence. Above all, Steve Kampwerth has been a key player in recruiting new members and telling the association’s story.”

West concluded the conference by thanking the speakers, sponsors and members who made the 2018 AAAS Conference and Trade Show so exceptional.  

“This year’s conference was very special,” he said. “Members and friends gathered valuable information, enjoyed time networking and visiting with friends and colleagues. It was a fantastic event and a phenomenal way to celebrate AAAS’s 80th year of service to members in the aftermarket industry.”

For more information on the association, visit

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