Engaging and educating the next generation of the aftermarket took center stage Monday at the VIPAR Heavy Duty IMPACT Conference in Marco Island, Fla., when GenNext held a speed mentoring event and reception.
The event enabled new and younger attendees to the conference the chance to speak with aftermarket veterans about their roles and careers, asking questions about what led them to the aftermarket, why the industry is so important to them (and the economy) and what has kept them in the industry over the years.
Nearly 70 people participated in the event, with an equal number of mentors and mentees. All mentees were given five to seven minutes with a mentor before cycling on to the next person, which Commercial Vehicle Solutions Network (CVSN) and GenNext Executive Director Edward Kuo said was an intentional way to ensure mentees got the chance to learn from as many aftermarket experts as possible.
The hour-long event was then followed by a reception where mentees had the freedom to circle the room at their leisure, meeting and connecting with other mentors and their peers to maximize the learning experience.
"We really want to thank you all for coming out — especially the mentors who came out and evoked their wisdom on the group," said Kuo. "It's great for our mentees to meet new people and have this experience."
GenNext co-chair Chair Nick Tosie of ConMet also informed the audience of two in progress certification programs GenNext is developing that will launch in 2024 at the next Distributor Training Expo.
The organization's GenFirst certification will be a first of its kind program that will provide essential entry-level aftermarket learning developed specifically for new industry entrants at distributor and supplier businesses. It will be coupled with a more advanced GenNext certification developed for the industry's next generation of leaders. The higher level program will provide education and instruction on topics of great importance in the aftermarket, such as inventory management, marketing, leadership development, financial acumen and more.
"All that training will be agnostic. It will not be specific to a manufacturer," Tosie added, noting industry veterans and manufacturers will all offer their insights into the curriculum to maximize its effectiveness. Tosie said more information about the program will be announced in the future, as well as future speed mentoring event dates.