|The recent PRO Long Range Planning meeting featured representatives from Ford, GM and Chrysler discussing each OEM's parts and accessories divisions and their roles and relationships with the specialty-equipment industry.|
The Professional Restylers Organization (PRO), a SEMA council dedicated to the prosperity of the restyling segment of the specialty-equipment industry, held its annual Long Range Planning (LRP) meeting on June 18–19, in Detroit. A highlight of the meeting was a panel discussion with seven representatives from Ford, GM and Chrysler. All of the panelists represented the OEM parts and accessory divisions, and the discussion centered on the OEM’s relationship with the aftermarket.
On the panel were:
Ford Motor Company
- Warren Nally, Manager-Aftermarket Support Group
- Jim Abraham, Licensed Accessories Manager-Vehicle Personalization
- Kevin Powell, Director-Product & Program Development
- Jeff Edwards, Director GM Accessories
- Sandor Piszar, Senior Sales and Marketing Manager GM Accessories
- Tom Dailey, Manager-Accessory Product Planning
- Doug Johnson, Product Planner, Cross Vehicle and Electronic Accessories
PRO members in attendance acknowledged the get together as groundbreaking in establishing relationships between the automakers and the restyling industry. Each of the automakers have a slightly different approach to their company’s interaction with the aftermarket. The opportunity to hear first hand from the people who manage the programs was invaluable.
“Having seven executives from GM, Ford and Chrysler participate in the PRO LRP this year demonstrates how we all can gain by an open dialogue,” said Bill North, business development manager, car and light truck division of Webasto Product North America and a member of the PRO Select Committee. “The insight gained by industry members who attended this event was priceless as we all obtained a new understanding of the current dynamic within the accessory divisions of each car company. I look forward to an ongoing relationship with these car companies, and they have all pledged to participate with us again.”
The OEM representatives talked openly about how they see themselves fitting into the aftermarket.
“This was the first time I attended a SEMA PRO event. I was thoroughly impressed with the organization, knowledge and candor of members I was able to interact with,” said Jim Abraham of Ford Vehicle Personalization. “Forums like this enable a dialogue that is mutually beneficial to both the auto manufacturer and the auto aftermarket companies alike.”
PRO members were quick to discuss the SEMA ProPledge warranty program with the OEM representatives as an indicator of how dedicated the Restyling Industry is in pursuit of quality.
“As a veteran restyler, I would say the recent PRO Long Range Planning Meeting stood out as one of the most productive in recent memory,” said Joey Johnston of Tops & Trends Inc. and a PRO Select Committee member. “The ability for PRO members to interact directly with a panel of senior OE[M] managers from Chrysler, Ford and GM was groundbreaking. PRO members and the OE[M] panel openly discussed opportunities and challenges that lie ahead for each. OE[M] panel members welcomed the new SEMA ProPledge initiative as a step in the right direction, thereby helping ensure customers have access to quality aftermarket products and installations.”
“As a representative of the OE[M] vehicle personalization and accessories world, I see the ProPledge program as a value-add and an impressive selling feature because it helps to reinforce the quality and peace-of-mind philosophy that the automotive aftermarket is capable of delivering,” said Ford’s Jim Abraham.