The automotive aftermarket proves its mettle during a global crisis.
There is no doubt in my mind that every single one of us is extremely tired of dealing with and living with this terrible pandemic we have endured for almost 10 months.
2020 will go down in history as a year to forget however, it will also be a year where we can reflect on some of the many great things that took place! The ability of human nature to respond to the needs of others, and the incredible sacrifices so many have made in order to support, serve and protect us has truly been inspiring.
Inside all of the human pain and the devastation to many business entities, it has been encouraging to witness, participate and observe the incredible spirit and leadership that the aftermarket community has displayed not only during these times, but whenever we have encountered obstacles, disasters and market conditions that would seem to be out of our control.
An essential service
Thankfully, the automotive aftermarket is deemed an essential service and although that speaks well for the industry to keep rolling, it did not mean that our industry would not be affected. As the supply chain began to experience interruption in the flow of goods and manufacturing plants were shutting down or dramatically reducing their capacity, the effect of those interruptions then impacted the distribution chain throughout the entire aftermarket. Companies were forced to reduce expenses and—in some cases—had to close for a period of time. For others that that did not close, those who were still going to work were impacted with additional workload and additional stress.
For many companies, their leadership did us proud! There were many leaders who had to ask for salary concessions from their employees, they had to in some cases, rotate furloughs for employees and in other instances, had to lay people off completely. There were also many leaders who not only took dramatic pay reductions for themselves, but many who actually forfeited their salary for the year—all in the thought process of responsibility to the people they employed. They call that taking responsibility!
What is even more astounding is the motivation many companies generated with their employees as a result of their actions. We have witnessed companies who altered their manufacturing capacity to provide ventilators, masks, gloves, and face shields to those in need. We observed employees collaborating to donate to food banks, fundraise for charities, as well as offer their time and effort to help within their respective communities to simply help those in need despite their own challenges.
While all of this continues to take place, our industry continued to serve the ultimate customers with products and services to keep their vehicles on the road, safe and secure.
When all is said done, the aftermarket rose to the occasion and we should all be sincerely proud of their contribution. An inspiration to all!
Robert Pitt has been in the automotive aftermarket since 1996 in the fields of sales, marketing and operations. Currently, he serves as president of Pitt Industries.