Anyone who knows me knows how much I enjoy talking up our industry. It’s been one of my favorite past times since joining the aftermarket in 2011. From my first weeks on the job I have never not been impressed by the personable, helpful and caring people that make up our wonderful business.
I don’t think many industries are like this one. I don’t think the personal relationships and long-term friendships that define the aftermarket are common elsewhere. This is a competitive industry—many of you do direct business with each other—and yet so many of you are also close friends. It’s very familial, and roots the aftermarket in a decency that should be commended and praised.
Which is what I’m going to do now.
Over the past few months a substantial portion of the southeastern United States and Puerto Rico has been throttled by hurricanes.
First it was Harvey, then Irma who took their turns battering Texas, Florida and other southern states with excessive winds and torrential rain. Maria followed a few weeks later and knocked out power across all of Puerto Rico.
Houston and surrounding cities were drenched by more than three feet of rain by Harvey, while some of the fastest hurricane wind speeds in recorded history from Irma assaulted the Caribbean before making landfall at well over 100 mph throughout Florida.
It was vicious and terrible—and hit some in the aftermarket head on.
What horror that must have been. To know a gargantuan storm is heading right for your business and your livelihood and knowing there is nothing you can do to stop it. I can’t begin to imagine, and offer my sincerest condolences to any aftermarket businesses that were bludgeoned by the recent storms.
At least you weren’t alone.
After Hurricane Irma left Florida and scattered into rain across the southeast I received an email from Marc Karon at Total Truck Parts. From his location in south Florida, Karon and the Total Truck Parts team had the misfortune of waiting, agonizingly, for nearly a week while Irma thrashed its way through the Caribbean, unsure of where the storm would make landfall and if it would force them out of the area.
The anticipation was exhausting, but Karon said thanks to the aftermarket, he knew Total Truck Parts would be able to weather the storm.
“The real story started before the storm hit. Competitors reached out to competitors and offered help after the storm if needed. We were no longer competitors, but friends facing a common threat,” he wrote. “I personally received almost 100 texts, calls and emails from around the country telling me that we were in their prayers, and I am sure that made the difference.”
If that doesn’t make you swell with pride about the aftermarket, Karon went on, “Right after the storm, we had a calling tree to make sure every one of our people was safe and had the resources they needed. Next, the managers went to the branches to make sure they were okay even before they began cleanup of their own properties. While we sustained some damage, none of that would prevent us from opening [the next day].”
To me, that’s such a perfect microcosm of this market. Everyone recognized a colleague was in trouble and reached out to lend support and aid.
Total Truck Parts knew they had friends they could count on in case things turned awful. When the company avoided major damage, the aftermarket responded by donating more than $10,000 to Total Truck Parts’ employee Brett Smith, whose home was destroyed.
I could do without another hurricane for a while (or forever), but in the meantime, it’s comforting to know that no matter the stakes, the aftermarket is a great place to be.