Adapting to New Realities With Jasna Smiljcic

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Bob Jaworski, of AIA Canada, discussing with Jasna Smiljcic, Director of Sales for Canada at Gates Corporation. PHOTO AIA Canada

As part of its Curbside Chat series, AIA Canada hosted Jasna Smiljcic, Director of Sales for Canada at Gates, on March 8.

The conversation with Ms. Smiljcic was led by Bob Jaworski, AIA Canada Board Chair. The first topic was electric vehicles, which have fewer moving parts. Does this reality worry Gates, a company specializing in the supply of belts?

“We’re actually very excited about the development of this technology,” says Smiljcic. “Just as we did with the COVID-19 pandemic, we will adapt. These vehicles have belts and tensioners that often run even when the EV is charging. The important thing for us is to be ready for the arrival of these vehicles on the secondary market.”

She also notes that the Canadian fleet is still largely made up of combustion-powered vehicles and that these vehicles are equipped with a wide variety of accessories, often requiring belts to operate.

Stating that she works with manufacturers to develop her products, the director stressed the importance of aftermarket shops having access to the data that allows them to service all vehicles. “This data belongs to the consumer and they have the right to choose where they want to have their vehicle serviced,” she summarized to the delight of the president of AIA Canada, whose right to repair has been a long-standing issue.

Preparing for the future

Ms. Smiljcic then went on to mention that there are several sources today to forecast the demand for replacement parts in the future. She emphasized the importance for both shops and parts distributors to stay well informed in order to keep up with the market.

Since the meeting took place the day after International Women’s Rights Day, Ms. Smiljcic was invited to comment on their presence and role in the automotive industry. “Women are still under-represented in our sector. However, the presence of women in this traditionally male field has made great strides in recent years. Women have strengths that they can bring to our companies. We need to make our sector attractive. I see this as an important challenge. Diversity must be a priority for our business leaders.”

Integrating Canada

Ms. Smiljcic left war-torn Yugoslavia in 1994. She learned the language and immersed herself in our culture. For her, the opportunity to integrate into our society, despite the family disruption it represented, was the equivalent, in her image, of winning the lottery. The conflict between Russia and Ukraine brings back sad memories for her.

As the effects of the pandemic fade, the director concluded that business relationships have been transformed. “We had to change our approach,” she explains, “including reducing our presence on the road. That being said, we have evolved our support for our customers to become better partners. This has really emphasized the importance of human relationships and communication.”


Categories : Editorial, Mechanical
Tags : AIA Canada, Event


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