What’s Age Got to Do With It?

Thursday, September 01, 2022

What’s Age Got To Do With It?

By Ben Brucato, Vice President of Engagement, Automotive Aftermarket Suppliers Association

Ben Brucato

Age really is just a number in the automotive industry.

Age really does affect so much that we do and how we live. We do not like to talk about age because it is taboo, but the reality is that we all age, and we are all getting older and new generations are following. Age gives us experience and shapes how we work and interact with others. It also shapes the lens through which we look at others and situations. Someone in the automotive aftermarket for two years will look at our industry with a very different perspective than someone who has 20 or 40 years of industry experience.

There is an immense sense of security for a seasoned industry executive who knows that the next generation is ready and eager to continue the legacy of the past, while bringing about innovation and growth. Therefore, the industry is focused more than ever on groups of young professionals like Modern Industry eXpertise (MiX), the Automotive Aftermarket Suppliers Association’s (AASA’s) reverse mentoring council; Young Auto Care Network Group (YANG), a community of the Auto Care Association; Specialty Equipment Market Association’s (SEMA’s) Future Leaders Network (FLN); and the New Automotive Aftermarket Generation (NAAG), the young leaders group of The International Independent Aftermarket Association (AAMPACT).

Millennials in the Workforce

The chart below shows millennials make up a significant percentage of the workforce – nearly 50% – therefore, we should care about what they think and say. 

According to The Harris Poll survey, Mission & Culture, more than 65% of American millennials care more about work culture than salaries. More and more companies are taking note of this and making huge cultural changes to attract and sustain talent across the aftermarket industry.

“Organizations that are focused on driving positive change within their culture are more likely to retain and recruit the top talent in our industry,” said Brian Lesiewicz, General Manager of NGK and past chairman of MiX.

Peter Drucker, who is known to be the founder of modern management, best coined the phrase “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” This implies that the culture of your company always determines success regardless of how effective your strategy may be. 

So, what is the culture in the automotive aftermarket industry and how is that culture reflected and represented at AAPEX, the premier event for the industry? Overall, the automotive aftermarket is a humble industry. How many top executives in this business have started behind a parts counter, a delivery vehicle, or working for the family parts business?  

The auto industry is not that old when you think about it, and some of the founders and pioneers are still in our midst. As young professionals at AAPEX, we have the ability and privilege to learn from the veterans who are more than happy to share their knowledge and experience with the future of the automotive industry. AAPEX also is a great place to connect with industry experts, build relationships and experience a culture of mentorship and learning.  If we are not learning, we are not growing, regardless of our age. 

I hope to see you at AAPEX in November.  

Sept. 1, 2022