More than 920 people filled a large ballroom at The Venetian on Tuesday morning in Las Vegas to kick off the Automotive Aftermarket Products Expo (AAPEX).
Bill Hanvey president and CEO, Auto Care Association and Paul McCarthy, president and CEO, Automotive Aftermarket Suppliers Association, gave a state of the industry address but both seemed more excited to actually be talking with real people in person.
No more Teams or Chat or Zoom.
They were humbled to note that the more than 4 million workers in the automotive aftermarket were deemed essential at the height of the COVID-19 prevention measures in early 2020. They also noted that the technicians and other automotive front-line workers were proud, too.
A panel of industry experts in the aftermarket were part of the more festivities, and they went through a litany of topics, but the words that were often mentioned at the breakfast were: the right to repair.
The panel included Corey Bartlett, president and CEO, Automotive Parts Headquarters Inc.; Sue Godschalk, president, Federated Auto Parts; Tom Greco, president and CEO, Advance Auto Parts; Kevin Herran, president and COO, Genuine Parts Co.; Gregory Johnson, CEO and co-president, O’Reilly Auto Parts; Bill Rhodes, president and CEO, AutoZone.
Everyone on the panel mentioned the right to repair, all amplified the news from earlier this year that the voters of Massachusetts voted in favor of the proposal with 75% in favor.
Now the same types of initiatives are working their way through Congress and state legislatures around the country.
Not only does the right to repair help customers with the availability of a choice in auto work on the vehicles, the panelists said, but also it is important to the industry moving forward.
As electric cars become a bigger part of the future, Godschalk said the original equipment manufacturers will push even more for all repairs and updates to be done at their dealerships. And with no oil changes and less brake work to name just a few of the changes coming with electric vehicles, she said the aftermarket industry needs to fight to have access to the information to those cars and their components.