Editorial — Denise L. Rondini, Executive Editor

You Can Make a Difference

Look over the crowd at any aftermarket meeting and you will notice one thing: there are a lot of gray hairs out there. As one of the gray-haired participants I like to think there is value in my years of experience in this industry. I think that is true for all of us who have been in this industry for any length of time.

lrondini@rrpub.comlrondini@rrpub.com

But most of us don’t want to work forever and if this industry is going to thrive in the future we need to pass our knowledge down to the next generation. Almost everyone I speak with — whether a distributor, manufacturer, repair garage, supplier or dealer — tells me they have difficulty finding young people who want to work for them.

I think part of the problem is that not enough young people know what a great industry this is. But you have the opportunity to change that. And you can do that with a group of young people who actually have some knowledge of the heavy-duty aftermarket.

As part of Northwood University’s Aftermarket Management degree program, all students have to take courses like Intro To The Automotive & Heavy-Duty Aftermarket and Heavy-Duty Parts & Service Marketing.

On top of that, according to Northwood’s Jim John, each student is required to complete an internship between his or her junior and senior year.

This is your golden opportunity to step up and bring a student into your business for 10 weeks. Ten weeks where you get to sell him or her on the advantages of working for you after graduation. Ten weeks in which you can raise enthusiasm for being part of your growing business.

Some aftermarket companies have already stepped up and are doing their parts. Jim mentioned Tenneco and Horton specifically as companies who have had success with Northwood interns. Some truck dealers even are jumping on the bandwagon. Jim referred to a large dealer group that came in and recently interviewed 15 students for internships or job.

Getting involved is simple. Right after the first of the year, contact Jim at 989-837-4341 or jjohn@northwood.edu. Since Northwood has three campuses, Jim will put you in touch with the person at the campus nearest you. The best part of Northwood’s internship program is you chose who interns at your business.

You can attend the job fair at Northwood’s Midland, Mich. campus in the spring and interview students while you are there, or you can arrange a campus visit and interview potential interns there.

On average, Jim says, he needs to place 25 students each year. That means we have 25 opportunities each year to convince some pretty bright kids that the heavy-duty aftermarket is every bit as dynamic, challenging and rewarding as the automotive aftermarket.

So what are you waiting for? Pick up the phone and call Jim or email him. You’ve got nothing to lose and a lot to gain.

The next time someone I am interviewing for an article brings up the challenge of getting young people into our industry, I am going to stop them and ask them what they are doing about it. If they say they haven’t contacted Northwood, I am going to stop listening because there is no reason to complain when there are options available.

I am not naïve enough to think that 25 people a year will solve our industry’s people problem, but it is a damn good start.

Contact Jim, and I am guessing you won’t be disappointed in the caliber of employee you find at Northwood. And who knows, if the Northwood student likes working for you, he or she may tell a friend and that can bring more capable young people to your door.

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