Randal Ward, President of AAAS, noted, "This year's event went very well. We had members from all four states as well as sponsors and trade show participants from all over the country. The attendees enjoyed their time, learned a lot and were able to discuss many issues with the speakers and trade show representatives. We believe the event was a great success!"
AAAS board member Liz Burleson -- Barrett with Todd Lazar, Superior Financial Services (sponsor) and Liz's husband Sonny Barrett -- enjoy the meeting.
Ward continued, "We are very fortunate to have such a unique and successful formula for our association and our annual conference. I think our success can be attributed to three key factors:
- Support from our members. Our attendees (members, sponsors, speakers and guests) are engaged and make the most of every opportunity presented. The time spent at the conference just scratches the surface of the impact this program has. These folks take the information they gain and the relationships they build back to their businesses, creating a positive ripple effect that is felt throughout the association and industry.
- We have the best network of sponsors and trade show representatives. A majority of our sponsors have been around for many years. They support us generously throughout the year and really step up to make our conference a success.
- Top tier speakers attend our conference to share valuable, timely and relevant information."
"We find that, with such engaged members and sponsors, our guest speakers find our group captivating and, in turn, learn a lot about our association. They tend to stick around and gain a special appreciation for our members and AAAS. It is truly a win-win situation, but of course, it doesn't hurt to have a beautiful destination like Sandestin!"
During Friday afternoon's Board of Directors meeting, two new board members were welcomed into the fold. Michael Morgan of Frost Transmission in Gadsden, AL stepped up to continue his father's legacy since the former Chairman passed away in February. Steve Kean of Rick's Pro Truck in Brandon, MS also participated in his first Board of Directors meeting since joining the board in February. The Board of Directors elected Sid Dooley of Associate Jobbers Warehouse as Second Vice Chairman, while Southern Distributors' Steve Kampwerth serves as Immediate Past Chairman.
Because they have received many donations in honor of the late Mike Morgan, the AAAS Education Foundation’s Board of Trustees recommended establishing a Mike Morgan Memorial Scholarship; the AAAS Board of Directors unanimously approved the suggestion.
Saturday’s educational conference began with “Aftermarket Changes and Trends Impacting You and Your Business” by Keynote Speaker Larry Pavey, President of Federated Auto Parts. Ward recounts, “Pavey gave a comprehensive look at the trends in the automotive aftermarket industry. He spoke about the changing automobile, the demographics of car owners, vehicle data, parts distribution changes and many other aspects and trends in the aftermarket. His compelling presentation was packed with information that pertained to each of our attendee’s businesses.”
During “Preparing For and Facing a Third Party Audit,” tax attorney Jeff Patterson presented real-life scenarios showing the tremendous impact of third-party audits, and many attendees shared some of their own experiences. Sherry Robertson, Vice President and Human Resources Director at IGO Insurance Agency shared her vast HR experience and knowledge with AAAS members, lingering to answer questions.
Lastly, Behzad Rassuli from the Auto Care Association presented findings from their research on recent shifts in the purchase of automotive parts online. According to Ward, “Our members left the meeting well-informed at E-Tailing trends and projections of how and when to expect those trends to affect their businesses. We’ll do our best to package up this information and get it to our membership. The time attending members spent with our presenters and trade show representatives is hard to quantify; we fell it is invaluable.”
Although AAAS’s 2015 Annual Conference and Trade Show boasted incredibly useful training seminars, the association did not forego all fun and games. Thursday’s Welcome Reception and Friday’s Chairman Reception allowed attendees to meet, reunite and network in a fabulous environment, while the deep sea fishermen enjoyed Friday morning angling on the Gulf of Mexico aboard the Destination’s 20 by 20 foot fishing deck.
Dinner on Saturday evening was held at the Marlin Grill, and Ward called it “an evening full of celebration and comradery. Chairman Jarrett Liles thanked our sponsors, members and guests for making the 2015 Conference and Trade Show such a success. We also presented Fishing and Golf Tournament awards.”
Raising funds for the AAAS Education Foundation, AAAS’s Annual Golf Tournament was held Saturday afternoon at the Baytowne Raven Golf Course featuring their annual Hole-in-One contests. Ward excitedly announced, “Jon Bolle of Federated Insurance hit a hole-in-one on Hole 12 and won a great set of Adams Speedline Driver and Fairway Woods. Jon’s the first ever Hole-in-One winner in all of our annual golf tournaments.”
This event is important to AAAS as a means of bringing their members together, offerings networking opportunities, and providing members with the latest information about topics impacting their businesses and the aftermarket industry. The feedback members provide the association is also useful for determining what topics they will offer; Ward states, “Through networking events, and face-to-face contact, we are able to bring common issues faced by our membership to light. When we see what types of challenges our members are facing, we then fine tune our efforts and are able to find resources to help them navigate their challenges.”
Ward continues, “This is a continuous and dynamic process. The Board of Directors and association staff are always looking for ways to connect our members and their changing needs with the resources in our industry to help them sustain and grow their businesses.”
AAAS’s Annual Conference and Trade Show grows each year, and this year’s members, speakers and sponsors really connected. AAAS Chairman Jarrett Liles shared, “The exchange of ideas and information was great. We’ll do our best to get the speaker’s messages out to all of our members that couldn’t make it, but you can’t possibly replicate the exchanges that occurred during the weekend. Each of our speakers and show reps spent a fantastic amount of time answering member specific questions about their area of expertise. So I believe the benefit to our members that attended was outstanding!”
AAAS members and sponsors anticipate this event each year, and the 2016 AAAS Conference and Trade Show has already been scheduled for June 9-12, 2016.