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Aftermarket professionals capitalize on ‘eye-opening’ leadership development program

Leadership 2.0 is the aftermarket industry’s only formal course that brings leaders together for MBA-level instruction

Midland, Mich.—The Aftermarket Auto Parts Alliance, Inc. made a strong showing during the first week of the 2022-2023 University of the Aftermarket’s Leadership 2.0 program. Nine Alliance attendees accounted for 25 percent of the entire Leadership 2.0 class while representing the aftermarket industry’s independent distribution chain with personnel from Alliance headquarters, a warehouse distributor, several repair shop owners and technicians.

Alliance Team Leadership 2.0 – pictured, from left, outside the Sloan Family Building for Aftermarket Studies on the campus of Northwood University: JC Washbish, Tara Topel, Jon Sea, Ryan Backowski, Dave Hinz, Kris Goldman.

The Alliance attendees were:

• Ryan Backowski, Director of Marketing, Auto-Wares Group of Companies

• Kris Goldman, Controller, Alliance Parts Warehouse

• Dave Hinz, Owner, Mastertek Auto Repair a Bumper to Bumper Certified Service Center

• John Reed, Owner, Parkdale Auto LLC an Auto Value Certified Service Center

• Matthew Schramm, Area Manager, The Detroit Garage and Auto Value Certified Service Center

• Jon Sea, District Manager Northern Michigan, Auto-Wares Group of Companies

• Tara Topel, Owner, Topel’s Towing & Repair a Bumper to Bumper Certified Service Center

• JC Washbish, Vice President Sales and Marketing, Aftermarket Auto Parts Alliance, Inc.

• Johnny Weber, Owner, Weber’s Automotive Service an Auto Value Certified Service Center

The program was eye-opening for John Reed, owner of Parkdale Auto LLC in Manistee, Mich., said. “I learned more about myself, our service center and the automotive industry in one week than I have in any one week in my last 15 years.”

Leadership 2.0 is the aftermarket industry’s only formal leadership-development course that annually brings nearly 40 of its’ leaders together to network and grow through MBA-level instruction. The two- week residential course kicked off on Aug. 14, with the first week being held on Northwood University’s campus in Midland, Mich.

Attendees will reconvene for the second week this coming Spring 2023, in Raleigh, N.C. “Week One of Leadership 2.0 provided me with a comprehensive global view of the aftermarket from teachers, speakers, and industry peers,” said Tara Topel, 2021 Female Shop Owner of the Year and Auto Care Association Leadership 2.0 scholarship winner.

“It gave me a multitude of tools to be able to go back and strengthen our team, shop, and service experience in addition to giving insight on the importance of self-motivation and continued learning. While the Auto Care Association was gracious to facilitate my attendance, the ties with The Alliance and Auto-Wares gave me confidence in knowing I am set for success on many levels.”

Programming for Leadership 2.0 focused on industry trends, research and market analysis, competitive strategies and supply chain solutions including numerous lectures from industry leaders.

“The industry views and conversations were electrifying. We talked about how the industry has evolved and what its future might look like,” said Dave Hinz, shop owner of Mastertek Auto Repair in Algonquin, Ill.

Much of the class discussion centered on supporting the service professional. “This week was an amazing look into the automotive aftermarket. The class helped bring together and bridge the gap between manufacturer and auto parts distributor,” said Jon Sea, District Manager Northern Michigan Auto-Wares Group of Companies. “We are all fighting for the same things like finding new ways to fill the automotive professional pipeline and banding together to support the Right to Repair. Together we can make our industry stronger than ever before.”

The Alliance provides several scholarships each worth nearly $7,000 to attend Leadership 2.0 through their relationship with the University of the Aftermarket Foundation. “Nothing can substitute the experience I gained during from the first week of Leadership 2.0,” said Matt Schramm, Area Manager for the Detroit Garage and Auto Value Leadership 2.0 scholarship winner. “Thank Auto Value and Bumper to Bumper for sponsoring me and investing into the future of the aftermarket automotive.”

Auto Value and Bumper to Bumper scholarship winner Ryan Backowski, Director of Marketing for Auto- Wares Group of Companies, said, “The lessons learned at Leadership 2.0 will stay with me throughout my career. I found the instruction insightful and especially enjoyed the perspective of the varying industry members in the room. I was proud to see the strong representation of Auto Value and Bumper to Bumper members in the session along with making many new friends in the industry.”

Fellow scholarship winner Dave Hinz said he was equally as grateful, “I have been a service center with the Alliance for over 18 years. They have supported me in so many more ways than just parts, they are a valued business partner. They have always supported training, business meetings, my events and sending me to stuff like 2.0. You just can’t buy that value. Thank you, Alliance, not just for this incredible experience but for everything you do.”

At the center of Leadership 2.0 is a group project. Each student was assigned to a team that will collaborate on an aftermarket specific project over the ensuing six months and will present to their colleagues when they resume class in the spring.

“This class, especially the team project, will be a catalyst that will tie group of classmates together for the duration of our careers,” said JC Washbish, Vice President Sales and Marketing for the Alliance. “This is a unique opportunity to tie together the entire industry’s distribution channel, to collaborate on a project and hopefully find a solution that will make the industry even stronger.”

The 2022-2023 Leadership 2.0 class will be notable for the fact that after 15 years of running the program, Brian Cruickshank will be joining the Schwartz Advisors team, effective Sept. 1. “I am extremely grateful that I was able to attend this week with Brian at the helm. His insight and expertise are unparalleled. I will proudly be able to say, ‘I am one of Brian’s 2.0 students,’” said Washbish.

To learn more about the University of the Aftermarket, visit

To learn more about the University of the Aftermarket Foundation, visit https://uofa-

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