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Thursday, 02 June 2016 21:31

The YANG of the Aftermarket Industry

Networking is a vital component in developing a career, but it is particularly imperative to young professionals whose careers are still in their early stages. The Auto Care Association recognized this and created a program which addresses the needs of young professionals in the industry.

The Young Auto Care Network Group (YANG) offers a free membership available to anyone under the age of 40 working in the auto care industry. YANG provides an opportunity for individuals to network with industry peers, enhance their knowledge, and improve their leadership capabilities.

YANG began in 2014 after two young members of the Auto Care Association noticed how few members of their generation attended industry conferences and events. Seeing a need to attract and develop young people in this business, they began generating awareness among young people, and YANG has now grown to include 750 young industry professionals nationwide. YANG’s membership is representative of the entire supply chain and even includes students.

Courtney Hammer, director of job and career development for the association, said, "We find value in raising awareness of the young person's perspective and sharing their opinions. They need to be involved in decision-making processes since this is the next generation that will be in charge someday. There is also a real need in the industry to develop succession plans. Recruiting new talent is an issue that spans across the entire automotive industry, but YANG involves young people who help with recruitment and retention as well as the professional development of young people entering the industry. All of volunteer leadership team helps spread information needed about working in the industry, and the program has generated a lot of interest."

Since networking is the foundation of YANG's creation, it's not surprising that the group plans a number of activities to allow for engagement with their peers. While the group schedules some larger scale functions, their most popular events are their Regional Meet-Ups and their YANGTime webinars.

YANG's Regional Meet-Ups are designed to provide networking opportunities for young industry professionals across the country and potentially internationally. YANG understands that not everyone is able to travel to industry events, so the concept is to bring YANG to members’ local communities.

According to Hammer, "YANG plans to hold 20 Regional Meet-Ups this year, which are hosted by members in areas where we have a dense population of YANG members. We usually have anywhere between 15 and 50 people attend these networking events which often coincide with other local events. In the past, YANG's Regional Meet-Ups have included happy hours, baseball games and go-karts, but members can choose any venue where they can encourage interaction amongst attendees."

YANG’s mission is spreading and more organizations are working to get young people involved. Two state associations, AAAS and CAWA, have partnered with YANG to host upcoming Regional Meet-Ups and have also agreed to offer free registration for YANG members to attend their conferences. On June 10, YANG will hold a meet-up in Sandestin, FL during AAAS's 2016 Conference and Tradeshow. On June 23, CAWA is hosting a Regional Meet-up in Long Beach, CA that includes a tour of AllTrade Tools. YANG members are invited to attend the entire Leadership Meeting June 22-24.

Likewise, the Car Care Council Women’s Board offers a discounted rate to first-time YANG members to attend their conferences. Other upcoming Regional Meet-ups include Washington, DC on June 13 during the group's first Legislative Conference, July 7 in Memphis, TN and July 28 in Indianapolis.

In addition to offering networking opportunities, YANG also focuses on education and professional development of its members. YANGTime is an educational program comprised of webinars which are geared toward young auto care professionals. Topics range from professional development to industry specific trends. Past topics include using the history of the supply chain, technology tips for productivity, and the connected car. On June 23, YANGTime will feature Todd Campau, Product Manager for IHS Automotive, who will present "Emerging Global Vehicle Markets."

On May 6-7, YANG held its 2016 Leadership Conference in Bonita Springs, FL which was held in conjunction with the Auto Care Association's Spring Leadership Days. The YANG Conference included presentations from their parent association, the Aftermarket Auto Parts Alliance and many others. In addition to panel discussions on "The Rules of Globalization" and "Have You Ever Tried Listening to Your Customer?," seminar topics included "Technology Related Opportunities and Challenges for the Automotive Aftermarket," "Telematics - The Connected Car," and "Emotional Intelligence."

Hammer said the focus of YANG's 2016 Leadership Conference was "professional development and education. It allowed attendees to see the big picture and provided an opportunity to witness the size of the aftermarket industry. Talks were about big topics that impact everyone, such as new technology, distribution and acquisitions."

YANG will host the first ever YANG Legislative Conference on June 13-14 in Washington, DC. Attendees will tour the nation’s capital, learn about the most pressing issues impacting the industry, and meet face-to-face with Members of Congress. "Thirty YANG members plan to attend the Legislative Conference to talk to legislators about these issues from a young person's perspective," Hammer said.

The 2016 YANG Legislative Conference will begin on Monday afternoon with a briefing on the issues, followed by a presentation by guest speaker Sheree Anne Kelly of the Public Affairs Council. Then, attendees will prepare for the following day with a session of legislative meeting role plays. Tuesday's agenda consists of a series of meetings on Capitol Hill with each YANG representative attending at least three meetings.

In November, YANG will attend the AAPEX Show where the group will offer an educational track and a Town Hall meeting for young industry professionals.

In conjunction with the Automotive Warehouse Distributors Association (AWDA), YANG offers another opportunity for young industry professionals to increase their involvement through the Next Step Program which allows participants to contribute in the Auto Care Association's Spring Leadership Days. Ten Next Steppers received a scholarship to offset travel and accommodation expenses.

 

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