AIA Canada Conducts Its 77th AGM

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The Automotive Industries Association of Canada (AIA Canada) conducted its 77th Annual General Meeting (AGM) on May 8 at the Novotel Toronto Mississauga Centre Hotel in Mississauga, Ont.

The event kick-started with an informal tete-a-tete amongst attendees over drinks, providing an opportunity to everyone to connect. The meeting was officially called to order by outgoing Chair Brent Hesje after the attendees completed the first two courses of the lunch served.

During the course of the meeting, members approved the Minutes of AGM Meeting of April 25, 2018. The organization’s financial report was presented by Jason Best on behalf of its Finance and Audit Committee and approved by members. Best informed the attendees that $250,000 from AIA Canada’s assets has been set as “internally restricted funding for the Right to Repair initiative”. BDO was appointed as the auditors for 2019.

New Officers and Directors

Election of new Officers and Directors is a customary part of the agenda each year at the AIA Canada AGM. Dave Fifield, Past Chair of the organization and President of Wakefield Canada was the Committee Chair of the 2019 Nominating Committee.

Jason Best, Vice President of Aftermarket Sales & Marketing, Spectra Premium, was unanimously elected as the AIA Board of Directors Chairman for 2019-2020. Outgoing Chairman Brent Hesje passed on the responsibility to Best along with the AIA Canada gavel and pin. In his first address as the Chairman, Best said, “In the next year, my goal is to prepare the association and its members to face the future of our industry.”

Other changes made in the Executive Committee are as follows:

  • Susan Hitchon, Head of Global New Business Development, Special Markets, from Schrader International (a division of Sensata Technologies) will now serve as the First Vice Chair.
  • Brent Windom, President & Chief Executive Officer, Uni-Select was elected to the position of Second Vice Chair.
  • Brent Hesje, CEO, Fountain Tire will hold the position of Immediate Past Chair.

Graham Jeffery, Vice President, Automotive Merchandising Division at Canadian Tire and Jason Yurchak, Senior Vice President, WORLDPAC Canada, were elected for the first time to the board. The new members will retain their positions until the spring 2022 AGM.

AIA Activities

Jean-François Champagne, President of AIA Canada presented the result of the organization’s activities for 2018. “One of our strategic objectives is to be the go-to resource for knowledge for our members. On that front, we have delivered,” he noted. The association has been able to set up AutoConnex.ca to address labour market challenges faced by the aftermarket. It gives access to labour market trends of 15 different occupations, from both mechanical and collision segments. The platform offers a wealth of information which includes salaries, education, demographics as well as job postings. Through the I-CAR program in the collision sector, AIA trained over 5300 technicians for more than 1300 collision shops across Canada, he added.

Influencing the government on strategic opportunities is another key objective of the AIA. In this regard, the association’s primary focus has been on access to vehicle data and the Right to Repair. “Our view is that the current agreement on Right to Repair/CASIS cannot guarantee future access to telematics data from connected cars,” said Champagne. “Our goal is to secure regulations to ensure direct access to vehicle data for the aftermarket.” With this objective, in late 2018, the AIA Board of directors decided to establish a fund dedicated to that goal to support the association’s ongoing lobbying efforts and research efforts to secure the regulation.

The AIA Board of Directors, as part of membership reform, took a step towards directing management to create an associate program for service providers. The resulting program, Automotive Service Associate Program (ASAP), was launched in early 2019 and seeks to recognize the importance that “service providers must play in the association’s future and give them a seat at the table.”

Champagne also commended the help provided by AIA Canada’s volunteers and the role played by the eight divisions from coast to coast. He added that the association had also been able to focus on the younger generation through grants, scholarship programs as well as the activities of the Young Professionals in the Aftermarket (YPA).

Awards Ceremony

Post adjournment of the AGM and a quick dessert break, the event rounded off with the annual tradition of the awards ceremony.

The AIA High Fives For Kids Foundation presented three awards to those who went over and above to support its cause. Ken Coulter, President of Speciality Sales and Marketing, was the recipient of the award in the “Individual” category. In the “Company” category, Vast Auto Distribution received the honour. The third award was given to the division that supported the foundation the most. Joe Mercanti accepted the award on behalf of the Ontario division.

The highlight of the ceremony was AIA Canada’s most prestigious award—the Distinguished Service Award. John “Satch” MacDonald, recently retired from Ideal Supply and an industry veteran, was honoured this year. MacDonald served as the Chairman of the AIA Board of Directors in 2012 and has held several other key leadership positions within the association over the years. “I have enjoyed more than 30 years in some way or other with this wonderful organization; met some terrific individuals over the years. It helped me in many ways with my own career within Ideal Supply. It is amazing how this association can bring people together and as one we truly are stronger. In a market so vast, when we work together, we can get things done,” said MacDonald, during his acceptance speech.

Brad Cochrane from NAPA Auto Parts and Shannon Spano from Wakefield Canada presented the YPA Young Leader of the Year Award to Paul Prochilo, CEO of the Simplicity Car Care franchise. Accepting the award, Prochilo sent out a special message for young professionals: “If there is ever an opportunity that makes you feel apprehensive, staying within your moral compass, don’t shy away from it. Run at it with full speed. Success as a leader in your personal and professional lives is all based on your attitude.”

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