It is customary for the YEN Member Spotlight to showcase the life and career of a young, up and coming YEN member but let’s face it, we work in and industry that thrives on breaking norms and thinking outside the box. With that in mind, this YEN Member Spotlight focusses on Derrick Johnstone of Alliance Sales, who’s odometer has rolled over the 40 year limit for YEN. All joking aside, Derrick continues to stay involved through Manufacturer’s Representative Network (MRN) where he is a current Select Committee Member. I had an opportunity to talk with him at the 2012 SEMA Show and find out what this former YEN member is all about.
Whenever I ask somebody how they got involved in the industry there is usually a pretty interesting backstory and Derrick’s is no different. He was pretty much born into it as his father, Dave Johnstone, was an instrumental in the Vancouver drag racing scene and is an inductee of the Greater Vancouver Motorsports Pioneer Society (2012) as a racer, car builder and car show producer.
From an early age Derrick can remember weekends at the track or in the garage learning how to cram more horsepower under the hood. It’s safe to say that racing is in his blood so it should come as no surprise that right out of high school he went to work as a counterperson at Cal-Van Auto Supply, a speed and performance supplier who was also inducted into the GVMPS as a supporter in 2003. Racing and hot rodding are still his passion as he just finished a full resto-mod on a 1949 Chevy wagon that he used to race 22 years ago. He also recently purchased a stock eliminator ’66 Impala.
Aside from racing Derrick says that his favorite part of the industry is the people. His current role as partner of Alliance Sales, a rep agency in Western Canada, enables him to work with people in all facets of the aftermarket. For Derrick, joining YEN was a no-brainer as it gave him an opportunity to meet and network with a variety of industry professionals. He spent 10 years as a YEN member and has formed many long lasting relationships as a result. YEN became a stepping stone for him to the MRC as he wanted to continue his involvement with the SEMA councils and the MRN enables him to monitor and influence the issues that impact his sector of the industry.
When asked what he sees as the biggest challenge in the industry currently Derrick stated that he felt fluctuating gas prices were the number 1 issue. He feels the next 5 years will be pretty much status quo but he sees a strong push for fuel economy in the next decade. While economic uncertainty in general is a large concern for most Americans, Derrick pointed out that the Canadian economy wasn’t hit as hard and seems to have rebounded faster. He says truck accessories are hotter than ever right now. The Canadian market is an important piece of the puzzle for so many manufacturers but with a culture so similar to the US, why is it important to have Canadian representation? He said the answer is simple, proximity. Who better to understand the costs, logistics and exchange rates than someone who lives there?
I appreciate Derrick taking some time out of his busy SEMA schedule to meet with me. This 2nd generation hot rodder is truly a YEN success story and it is that reason why we wanted to tell his story in the YEN Member Spotlight. He story is proof that YEN is truly a stepping stone to bigger things for the future leaders of this industry.