News Update: Universal Underwriters Group (UUG) Held its 4th Annual Aftermarket Industry Conference

News Update: Universal Underwriters Group (UUG) Held its 4th Annual Aftermarket Industry Conference

Held Nov. 2 at Mandalay Bay during Automotive Aftermarket Industry Week in Las Vegas. Each year, the conference brings together leaders from the automotive aftermarket and offers attendees the opportunity to learn from each other and address key industry issues.

“Attracting and maintaining a strong employee base continues to be one of the aftermarket industry’s greatest challenges,” said Bob Tschippert, senior vice president of automotive specialty markets at UUG.

This year’s conference featured keynote speaker Kelly McDonald, president of McDonald Marketing. McDonald presented “Diversity in America: the Growing Impact on Work, Organization and Consumers.” Her presentation focused on the impact of the growing Latino/Hispanic population. As McDonald explained, “this population offers marketers three key ingredients or the 3 Ls,” as she put it. “It’s a Large population, it’s a Lucrative population and it’s a very Loyal population.”

The theme of the presentation was leveraging diversity as a business opportunity. The discussion included:


  • Key market segmentations and associated values;



  • The importance of relating to different cultures;



  • The dos, don’ts and common obstacles employers face when implementing diversity initiatives.

UUG also announced that, in response to the demand for qualified technicians, it has expanded its High Octane Jobs program to address the continuing educational needs of current automotive technicians.


High Octane, a partnership program between aftermarket associations and UUG, began as a unique program to help prepare students for automotive technician training programs. Scholarships were provided to help attract new entrants to the technician field.

“Working with associations and aftermarket businesses over the past year, we’ve seen a pressing need in the industry for highly trained A and B mechanics,” said David Willett, vice president and general manager of UUG’s automotive specialty market, central division. “Our analysis of industry shop owners’ data suggests a lack of financial support for this target group.”

UUG also announced its impending name change. Effective Jan. 1, 2007, the company will change its name to the name of its parent company, Zurich, capitalizing on the opportunities created by integrating the brands.

For more information about UUG’s annual conference or its High Octane Jobs program, contact Stacey Singer at 913-339-1385 or [email protected].

Becky Babcox Named ‘Aftermarket Woman of the Year’
The Car Care Council Women’s Board selected Becky Babcox as the recipient of its third-annual “Aftermarket Woman of the Year” award. The announcement was made during the 2006 Women’s Board reception, which took place Oct. 31 during the Automotive Aftermarket Products Expo (AAPEX) in Las Vegas.

“We are all very proud of Becky and applaud her many years of dedicated service to the automotive aftermarket,” said Katie Noga, Women’s Board president. “We are honored to have her represent all women within the industry.”

Babcox was chosen by the Women’s Board executive committee based on her longevity in the aftermarket, career accomplishments, leadership capabilities and dedication to the automotive aftermarket industry.

Babcox is the co-owner of Babcox Publications, located in Akron, OH, with her brother, Bill. Although officially retired, she is still involved with the business. During her career, Babcox served as the publisher of Engine Builder magazine, as well as corporate secretary for the company.

AIA Luncheon Spotlights ‘People Award’ Winners
The Auto International Association (AIA) hosted its eighth-annual awards luncheon at the Venetian Hotel during the AAPEX show to honor winners of its AIA People Awards.


  • Young Executive of the Year — Matthew Waters, LAVA Partners;



  • AIA Lifetime Achievement Award — Gail Volpe, Autopart International;



  • Barry Breslow AIA Person of the Year — Lee Kadrich, AAIA/AIA;



  • Hall of Fame — Henry Allessio, Walden Consultants.

Michael Brown, AIA chairman of the board and president of Olympus Imported Auto Parts, Alexandria, VA, opened the program with welcome remarks, congratulated the winners and recognized several previous AIA Hall of Fame winners who were in attendance.


AIA Hosts Largest-Ever ‘Fabulous Networking Reception’
Five hundred guests attended the Auto International Association’s (AIA) Fabulous Networking Reception (FNR) at the Venetian Hotel during the AAPEX show — the largest gathering in the four-year history of the event.

Gaining in popularity each show year, the AIA FNR is becoming the “place to be” for members of the international automotive community who want to network and build the foundation for business relationships.

Translators were on hand to help bridge any language gaps and facilitate networking opportunities. Lavish hors d’oeuvres, with an international flare, appealed to the culinary tastes of the myriad of international guests and AIA members who were in attendance.

Offshore Auto Parts Suppliers Seek Information On the U.S. Aftermarket
Offshore parts suppliers recognize the U.S. automotive aftermarket is the largest in the world. This alone could explain the large attendance at a seminar on this topic sponsored by AIA during the AAPEX show. The audience from Canada, Mexico, Europe and Asia learned about the complexities and dynamics of the aftermarket, and how opportunities must be assessed — in advance — before investments can be profitable.

Henry Allessio, managing director of Walden Consultants, was the featured speaker. He shared his insights from consulting with foreign companies on entering and competing in American markets: “Non-American suppliers must honestly evaluate their competitive positioning before investing in this market. It can be tricky. Easy access to business people and market information in America does not mean it is an easy market in which to gain inroads and make money.”

Affinia Group Stresses NASCAR Relationships, Debuts New & Streamlined Product Lines
At a press luncheon during the AAPEX show, Affinia Group executives discussed key promotional and sales efforts for the coming year, along with a special guest presentation from Robert Yates, owner of Robert Yates Racing.

For next year, Affinia Group is rallying around the watchwords of “faster, smarter and better” as the company stakes out a uniquely competitive position in the worldwide automotive industry. The company has bundled these watchwords under what Affinia calls its 2010 Strategy. The company is committed to customer needs and innovation, says Affinia Group President and CEO Terry McCormack.

“It boils down to bright people working as a team to be the best,” said McCormack. “We are creating success with the brightest and best people in the aftermarket — one team, one result. We are on the right track, we are in the right industry, and we have great customers and the right international vision.”

NASCAR legend Yates talked about his special relationship with Affinia and how Affinia products help his team win championships.

Affinia team members then discussed various promotions and product news among three of the company’s best-known brands: WIX Filters, Raybestos and Spicer.

WIX also debuted new products at this year’s show, including Aqua Chek Filter with gauge kit and a Cabin Air Filter with Bioshield 75. Bruce Johnston of WIX Filters also discussed several new promotions for 2007.

On the undercar side of the business, there were several noteworthy announcements. First, Raybestos will remain the Official Brakes of NASCAR for 2007. Second, Affinia has unveiled a new look with streamlined, simplified product lines in hydraulics, rotors and friction.

AIA Seminar Hits On Parts Ordering Efficiencies
Auto International Association (AIA) seminar, “Selling Parts for Imports: Did You Ever Consider Listening to Your Customer? The Installer’s View” held during the recent AAPEX show, stressed the importance of building and maintaining strong working relationships between installers and parts suppliers in order to effectively run businesses.

A panel of premier import specialist installers spoke in detail about what they want and need from parts suppliers, as well as the importance of Internet ordering and getting the right part the first time.

Chris Coulter from Curry’s Automotive in Sterling, VA, stressed the importance of the Internet and how it has made his shop much more efficient. “I prefer to use WORLDPAC because it allows me to do things on my own time,” Coulter said.

Mike Starovich from C & M Auto Service in Glenview, IL, agreed with Coulter on the importance of utilizing e-catalogs and felt strongly about receiving parts in the exact way they were ordered. “We want the right parts the first time,” Starovich said, “Getting the wrong parts is a terrible feeling.”

The importance of tech training was also a topic of discussion. Mike Aronow of Sunset Auto Import Service in Las Vegas said that he feels training is important, but “a lot of times it’s a sales class. I leave it up to the techs if they want to go on training. I don’t mandate, but I do feel that it is important.”

Bill Guinard, Olympus Auto Parts, represented the selling side of the industry and former AIA chairman Marty Gold, S-G Imported Car Parts, moderated.

AAIA Announces New Asian Initiative
The Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association (AAIA) unveiled its new Asian Initiative, including hosting the Asian Automotive Aftermarket Expo in Macao, China, at the Venetian facility in 2008. The announcement was made at a press conference in the Venetian during the AAPEX show.

In addition to the expo in China, AAIA will reinforce its ongoing trade policy and promotions by hosting senior-level aftermarket executives at a seven-day Executive Enrichment Program in Shanghai and Beijing, China in March 2007.

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