By Fredy Ramirez
Joel Ayres has a reputation. A shrewd businessman and salesman, he has had a successful aftermarket career for more than 40 years. But his reputation is not hard-as-nails or barbarous. Ayres is known for being one of the nicest guys in the industry.
Those who know Ayres understand why he was perfect for a job offered in 2015: executive director of the Automotive Aftermarket Charitable Foundation. The organization provides financial assistance to those in need within the aftermarket industry from problems such as sickness, catastrophe or accident. The foundation is more than 50 years old, yet Ayres became the first to hold that position. And it speaks to the core of who Ayres is: that nice guy.
“My volunteer work started when I was very young,” he explained. “My whole life has been about volunteerism and charity work. It’s been my passion.” He’ll tell you that his father “gave me my business and selling side, and my mother and stepmom gave me my loving, caring and charitable side.” As such, he cofounded the first Big Brothers of Northeastern Indiana and has been a volunteer teacher and had a nearly lifelong involvement with various children’s charities.
His devotion to the industry and community has resulted in many accolades, including the LTAA Hall of Fame, the SBN Athena Award, the Professional Restylers Organization (PRO) Jim Borré Lifetime Achievement Award and the SEMA Person of the Year. Still, Ayres feels unworthy of his SEMA Hall of Fame induction.
“I’m still in a cloud,” he confessed. “To think about the legends who are in this—the people I grew up hearing about or people I’ve known—it’s just…wow. I shouldn’t even be here. I’m very honored and very proud. The biggest achievements in my life are my children and grandchildren, but as far as the industry and this association, this is huge!”
To learn more about the SEMA Hall of Fame, visit www.semahof.com.