Driving Change: Joel Ayres’ Incredible Auto Industry Saga – On Owner’s Pride Podcast!

by | Jan 18, 2024 | Owner's Pride Podcast | 0 comments

From family business VP to AACF leader, Joel Ayres' captivating journey through the automotive world reveals a life fueled by passion and purpose

Join host Dann “E” Williams on the Owner’s Pride Podcast as we welcome Joel Ayres, the Executive Director of the Automotive Aftermarket Charitable Foundation (AACF). In this episode, Joel shares his remarkable journey in the automotive industry, starting as Vice President of Sales in his family’s business and cultivating a lifelong passion for cars. As a former SEMA board member and a leader in various automotive associations, Joel has significantly impacted the industry. Discover how Joel’s path led him to AACF, where he now dedicates his efforts to helping individuals and families from all aspects of the automotive aftermarket industry. His unique blend of business acumen and philanthropic spirit has earned him accolades, including SEMA Person of the Year and recognition for his significant contributions to the truck accessory market. From his early days in the family business to his active volunteerism and leadership roles, Joel’s story is an inspiration to anyone in the automotive world. Don’t miss this opportunity to gain insights from a respected industry veteran and learn how AACF is making a difference during challenging times, including their response to the pandemic. This episode is a must-listen for professionals and enthusiasts in the automotive industry.


Helping automotive aftermarket workers during times of crisis

[0:00] There’s been some sort of catastrophe in their life beyond their control, a medical emergency, a death in the family.
Even if it’s a child or another family member living with them, that’s where we come in.
And also with natural disasters, with the hurricanes, and as we know here in California, the fires and tornadoes, etc.
So that’s what we do. But what makes us unique is we only help people that work in the automotive aftermarket.
Welcome to the Owner’s Pride Podcast. I’m your host, Dan Williams. Dan E. Williams.
And yep, the E stands for EcoWash, the drought-tolerant, eco-friendly way to wash your car with just a little bit of water. Use code ECOWASHTHEWORLD at checkout on OwnersPride.com.
You’re going to get 10% off your order. You know why?

[0:56] Because we care. And if you’re picking up what we’re putting down here on Owners Pride Podcast, please do hit the like and subscribe button.
It means the world to us because it really, really does.
Today, I have a special guest and actually a really special guest.
Joel Ayers, the executive director of the Automotive Aftermarket Charitable Foundation, foundation, which I didn’t even know existed.
And I think this is going to be really great, valuable information for everybody out there in the, you know, in the detailing world.
We’ve seen so many people who have problems or a tragedy, and there’s a foundation out there that actually can come in and help you during those times that’s specifically for automotive.
And who knew? Joel, how are you doing today, sir?
I’m doing great, Dan. Thanks for having me on. I appreciate it.
Oh, thank you. Thank you.
So I came across your website through one of the, you know, find a guest podcast deals and it seemed really to align because like I say, I didn’t even know that this was an entity.
So before we jump in the Wayback Machine and really start to travel, let’s just tell everybody an overview of what exactly the Automotive Aftermarket Charitable Foundation is.

[2:14] What makes us unique, there’s a lot of great charities and non-profits out there, but we only help people that work in the automotive aftermarket and their immediate family.

[2:29] So if there’s been some sort of catastrophe in their life beyond their control, a medical emergency, a death in the family, even if it’s a child or another family member living with them, that’s where we come in.
And also with natural disasters, with the hurricanes and, as we know here in California, the fires and tornadoes, et cetera. So that’s what we do.
But what makes us unique is we only help people that work in the automotive aftermarket.
Fantastic. Like I said, I’ve never even darn heard of this thing.
So this is huge information to get out there. and happy to be a part of being a sounding board or amplifier for you guys because this is huge.
We appreciate that, yeah.

The mission and impact of the foundation in the industry

[3:29] We’ve been around for, this is our 65th year, and for a long time it was a cruel joke that we were the best kept secret in the industry.

[3:43] But we want to get the word out there and through things like your podcast and, others that are helping us, some of the magazines and stuff, and social media. We’re helping more and more people every day.
Okay. And we’re going to tie all into it because I have a plethora of questions to ask you about this.
But before we get into that, I like to jump into the Wayback Machine and take you back to a time when your hair was not gray and I actually had some hair on my head in the olden days.
And I’m asking you, because we’re an auto detailing chemical supplier, so that’s why this is going to be relevant.
But can you tell me about your very first memory of ever washing, detailing, cleaning, or doing anything like that to a car? Oh, yeah.

[4:32] That used to be with my brothers and I, that we all grew up car nuts.
And Saturdays were, you know, get out the Q-tips and the wax and all the other materials needed and hand wash your car and detail it inside out.
And it was such a pride after you were done standing back and looking at it.
You know, there’s a lot better materials now than when I had darker hair.
And then doing my cars but uh yeah it’s um it was it that was it was almost like a our, saturday church i’ll say is uh is uh getting that car shined up and and ready to go so heck yeah so that was you and your brothers what were you guys out there washing, Well, I had a whole bunch of cars, but I had a Mustang, 64 and a half Mustang convertible.

A History of Pickup Trucks and Aftermarket Industry

[5:39] Most of us were Fords. We were a lot of pickups in our past, light trucks.
And that’s kind of the industry I grew up in, in the aftermarket.
So we had all sorts of different ones. I had a 56 T-Bird at one time, and even going way, way back, I had a Volkswagen Bug.

[6:06] Which was a fun car when you’re 16 years old, believe it or not.
Any car is a fun car when you’re 16 years old, really.
You mentioned a 1964 and a half.
And I know my dad’s first car that he bought that was new was a 1964 and a half Ford Galaxy 500 with the big police interceptor engine.
It seems like a lot of cars made really huge leaps in that 64 and 64 and a half year. Do you know anything about that?
Well, the 64 and a half, 65 Mustang is what most people remember as Mustang making its debut.
Debut but uh lee iacocca uh who brought um the mustang to life um at at ford um the 64 and a half was kind of even though it was being sold it was kind of the prototype to see how it went and then 65 is when they really took off and the only difference um and i see if i can remember off the top of my head um i think the uh the mustang emblem on the side was like a half an inch each bigger or smaller.

[7:12] The foot pad on the carpet was a little different.
And I’m trying to think what else. Other than that, there’s just minor differences that most people wouldn’t even know what it was unless you checked the serial number.
Gotcha. Yeah, it just seems like that 64, 64 and a half was, I always hear people talking about those years specific.
Yeah, yeah. Yeah, you had the Corvettes and the split-windowed Ts, and yeah, there was a lot of great cars back then in the 60s.
What’s the favorite car that you’ve ever had throughout your life of having cars?

The Versatile and Loved Toyota Tacoma Pickup

[7:50] What, this is going to be strange, but a Toyota Tacoma pickup, four-door, four-wheel drive, absolutely loved it for an all-around, and it was, of course, being in that industry, it was customized and inside and out.
But it was just, it did everything from help me on the weekends if I needed to go to Home Depot or whatever to being, like I said, a four-door, you know, being able to haul people around.
But I just, I like the fact that when you’re setting up high, it was good.
But yet it was small enough to, especially when you get to California to, you know, find parking places and stuff.

A Reliable Toyota Tacoma and Automotive Industry Beginnings

[8:38] I had some great cars, but that was probably my favorite.
I don’t know if they make anything that’s going to run longer than a Toyota Tacoma either.
I had one that after I sold it, other than most of your minor things, I think a timing belt.
It had 300,000 miles on it and it’s still going strong.
Just getting warmed up. yep it’s it’s uh it’s fantastic yes okay so you you got your start you’ve been in the automotive industry your entire career what was your very first job in the automotive industry and i see and i can kind of see how it ties right into that toyota tacoma too yeah i so i was uh my very first job was uh was um vice president of sales at um, And for a truck accessory manufacturer, they’re called different all over, you know, camper shells, truck covers, truck caps, and tonneau covers.
And that’s kind of where I got my start.
And it was a family business. And we were manufactured up in northern Indiana.
And you probably know this, Dan, in a small town called Kendallville, north of Fort Wayne.
So wait, did you just say that you started your career as the vice president of sales?
Yeah, it helps. It helps when your father started the company. So I’ve got to be honest.

[10:06] That’s pretty awesome. That’s also where the beard came from.
I’ve had my beard since I was 21 because I had a baby face.
And I’d walk in to see somebody and I’d handle my card.
And the first thing they’d say, they’d say, are you the boss’s son?
And yes, I am. So I grew the beard and I’ve had it ever since.
So, well, what kind of what kind of responsibilities and things were you doing as the vice president of sales?
Were you already like you stepped into your first job and you had people underneath you that you were teaching sales? Yes.
Again, it was at the time I started, we were a smaller company.
And so I didn’t have a huge sales team.
But yeah and did what you know you know in a small company you kind of do it all I you know I helped you know design the literature and and other things we did you know work the trade shows and at that time this is before the truck aftermarket became so big and in SEMA and other areas we showed at RV shows like the the RVIA show in Louisville Kentucky and and there was one I think in Cleveland, Ohio, but that’s kind of where we found our little niche to go show our products.
Awesome. So how long did you stay with your family’s company?

[11:29] I left, well, we sold the company in 19, trying to remember, this gray hair is not helping.

Diverse Career in Manufacturing and Retail

[11:43] 78, 79 and I went for work for a company in outside of Kansas City and same type of thing only we also made fiberglass Jeep tops or for CJ’s and and also for that I don’t know if you remember the Suzuki and the GM track set tracker the little cheap looking Jeep, product and so yeah, we made made that and as well as like I said truck accessories and I was there We also had a chain of, aftermarket retail stores throughout the Midwest that I oversaw and then went from there to California and, went to work for a company called Lear le are which is is now part of a bigger organization that owns a bunch of different companies called the Truck Accessories Group.
But they have a lot of different companies that manufacture products for the aftermarket, the SUV and truck aftermarket.
So after working for these companies, you kind of shifted to sales and marketing specifically with your career. career.
How did you kind of make that leap from being in the stores, selling stuff and working like that to doing the sales and marketing?

[13:11] I just kind of got into it.
My whole family was, I guess we had the gift of gab or whatever. We were all in sales.

[13:22] But I always liked the creative side, the marketing side also so i kind of just worked into that now i did um at some different times in my life i was a i was a general manager at two different places two different manufacturing places um you know overseeing the whole operation but my my love and where i was always connected was in the sales and marketing side and holy cow how long has it been since you were doing the sales and marketing side of stuff like 2015 you you do it you do it all uh i’m still doing it uh it’s you know we all we all do it but um even with our non-profit you know you’re still doing sales and marketing and working with um the agencies that that donate their services to us and stuff so but uh you know we’re all out there selling all the time so on here right now actually but yeah it’s exactly So I guess kind of where I wanted to go with that question though, since you’ve been in for multiple years, what are some of the biggest changes that you’ve seen in the sales and, especially the marketing side of the world as technology has stepped in?

Evolution of Sales and Marketing in the Digital Age

[14:34] Yeah, yeah, it’s, I remember days where the ad agency would bring you the.

[14:43] The boards to look at and you’d say well i don’t like this color i don’t like that and i said we’ll be back in a few days and go back and redo it and now they bring in their computer and sit down and you’re seeing it you know in seconds so that’s that’s probably one of the bigger things and then social media of course has been huge and that’s something i’ve had to um call in help uh with and And we’ve got people like Jamie Levin with Levin Communications and others that have helped us out and got us more involved in that social media side.

[15:21] And when you went to the University of Northern Iowa, what was your degree in?
Is it something that directly piles right on to what you’ve been doing the whole time?
Yeah, this is going to be fun. No, I started out in education, and that university is noted for that.
And Kurt Warner, the Hall of Fame quarterback.
But it was the university specialized mostly in education.
It’s since, you know, broadened out. But that’s what I started into and then switched to business after I decided to get involved in the family business and went that route.
But I’ve always, that’s part of my charity work in the past, I’ll kind of segue into, is I always enjoyed the educational side with the young people.
And so a lot of my charity work in the beginning was with children’s charities.

[16:20] And what can you do better than charitable work?
I mean, when you’re trying to help people, that’s really, really huge.
You got to get back. I use a quote from Muhammad Ali.
It said, I’m going to forget it, but basically charity or giving back is the rent you pay for your room in heaven.
And I always liked that.
So but I get you get I’ve told everybody you know you think oh this is great you’re helping people and stuff I’ll tell you and I think most people that in our charity and on our board and everything will tell you what we get back from what we help these people and we see what we can do for them it’s way way more than we’re giving them so yeah when um what when did you first become become involved with SEMA and and what was the path that led you to being on the SEMA board and like really involved not just like a member paying dues like to actually step in and be a part of SEMA yeah so um there was a an association we were part of a smaller one called the light truck um.

[17:33] Accessory uh association um and um I said I actually sat on the original board of that and and was involved in that.
And later on in 19, I’m trying to remember dates here, so I apologize.

[17:51] I think it was 1989 or 90, we merged with SEMA and became part of SEMA and became an excellent console for SEMA.
And so that first year after doing that, they wanted to make sure they had representation on the board.
So a bunch of people in our industry asked me to run for a seat on the board.
And I was fortunate enough to, with some backing from some longtime SEMA members that were friends, get elected.
And I served on the board for 15 or 16 years, I think.
And what kind of stuff do people do that are on the board at SEMA?
Do you guys have virtual meetings? Or does everybody meet in a location? We do both.
We used to have or usually had four to five face-to-face meetings a year, and then also, as needed, virtual meetings and conference calls.
And before the days of Zoom, it was just a conference call.
But yeah, it’s, that’s just, you know, what we say is.

Representing the Industry on the Board

[19:11] You know, when you when you walk into that boardroom, you take off your company hat and you put on your industry hat, because even though you’re you’re there, we all work for companies and stuff.
You’ve got to make sure you’re representing the entire industry, not just your company.
And of course, there’s you know, you get there’s benefits that come with it because you get exposure for your company being on the board.
But mostly, if you’re a good board member, which most of them are, you’re there representing our industry and making sure what’s good for it.
So there was times I was voting or being involved in the hot rod industry or the, you know, restyling those other segments of FEMA and helping do things for them, not just for the truck and SUV side. Yeah.
How do they choose like what industries get to come in and have have a say?
And do you think that something like the detailing, because it’s really become over the past 15 years, I’d say, a viable business.
Oh, yeah. People are leaving college degree jobs to come and work in this part.
And also, like, even in the financial downturns that we’ve had in COVID, most of the guys who have detailing businesses like plowed right through.

[20:35] So it’s becoming a really big industry. Do you think that there will ever be a place at the table for the world of detailing? Oh, definitely.
I mean, there is now. Like you said, if you go to the SEMA show, there’s people there selling ceramic coatings.
You know, Barry McGuire, McGuire Car Wax, and Mothers, too, are huge supporters and involved in SEMA.
So it’s been there. And same with the collision industry came in, and it’s more involved there.
And, of course, now the EV cars, that’s a whole other segment that’s come in.
So as the industry, you know, it started off, you know, mostly hot rodders and speed.
And a lot of people don’t realize that, you know, that the acronym for SEMA started out being this, you know, speed equipment.
Speed Equipment Manufacturing Association, I think.
They wanted to keep the same acronym, but they had grown into so many different segments that it became this Specialty Equipment Marketing Association.

[21:42] It’s a huge, huge show, SEMA. I always tell people, I describe it to people often who have not seen it.
And I ask if they’ve ever gone to the Grand Canyon. And you go to the Grand Canyon and on your way there, you think it’s going to be a really big hole in the ground.
And you get there and you look at the expanse and you’re like, holy moly, that’s a big hole in the ground.
SEMA’s kind of like that.
I’ve gone probably most of the years for the past 18 years.
And i don’t think that you can walk the whole thing even in the four days like it’s just too i think i think my first show was 86 or 87 and you could walk most of it and uh i made the mistake of uh even though it was much smaller than i made mistake of wearing uh dress shoes and stuff which you learn real fast especially as this show has grown if you look around most people have kind she’s on because you cover a lot of miles and especially if you’re over in the apex side of the world to that that show has grown huge and so you know the entire industry week it’s I tell everybody that’s going there for the first time there’s no way you’re gonna see it in one or two days you know it’s going to take if you’re gonna stop and talk with people and and you know look at products and stuff like that it’s going to take three or four days yeah to To get through one hall.
Yes, exactly. So you’ve been involved in charities throughout your life.

[23:09] How, first of all, like the first charity that you stepped into, what motivated you to do that?
And kind of as you work with a charity for a while, what makes you change lanes and go, it’s time I’ve done my part here and I want to go help in this other area?
Yeah. Yeah, so I started off, I was watching a newscast about the Vietnamese orphans after the war that were needing to be adopted.
And I was a young husband at that time. And my wife and I decided that this would be cool.
And we just thought all you had to do was, we were young, pick up the phone and say, I’ll take one. And they shipped it out.
It doesn’t quite work that way. and so there was a little disappointment but through that I got involved with Big Brothers and I had to I had to actually get a little brother, the only, so the closest association was Fort Wayne, Indiana which was about 30 to 45 minutes away and so after being a big brother for a year I went to the director of that and I said could we start one up in our area and so I.

[24:25] I started the Big Brothers of Northeastern Indiana, and I was the first chairman of the board.
And back in those days, I had hair a little bit longer than this.
And so it was interesting. But, yeah, that’s, and I’ve, you know, off and on I’ve done, you know, from I volunteered, taught at what’s called Newcomers High School in San Francisco, which is for immigrant children that are, it’s a public school, but they’re not ready to go into the, because of language or whatever, not acclimated, go into the normal public school at the time.
So they spend one or two semesters there to get kind of acclimated and then go into the normal public school system.
And a bunch of other charities since then.

[25:15] I enjoy, I really do, and I know it sounds cliche, but I enjoy giving back.
And I enjoy the pleasure it gets me making a difference in somebody’s life.

Finding Charities through Unexpected Encounters

[25:28] So how do you find the charities that you’re going to work with?
Is it just that somebody punts the idea over to you? They’ve always, they’ve always, uh, they’ve always found me.
Um, it’s, um, it’s been interesting because, um, uh, When I was on the SEMA board, we had a board meeting in North Carolina, and Richard Petty invited us out to what was brand new then, the Victor Junction Gang Camp, which is for children with serious illnesses that his grandson, Adam, had always wanted to start.
And so when he was killed in a race, Richard and Kyle Adams’ dad and his mother, they started Victory Junction Gang Camp.
And so they invited the board to go visit it. And I got really fired up and I ended up volunteering there.
And then after a while, I came back to the board and I said, you know, we don’t do anything charity-wise.

[26:31] Could we do something to support Victory Junction that started out and they basically said if you want to do it you can go off and do it and go play in the corner and so I started SEMA Cares which is still going today and but we start off with helping Victory Junction and then Then through that, some people in the industry from the wheel industry, the wheel side of SEMA, were supporting a charity called Child Help is for Abused Children.
And they came to us and said, hey, we need more help. Could SEMA Cares take them on?
We did that. And then we went from that to another one that came through, a SEMA member, but Austin Hatcher Foundation, which is for kids and families with pediatric cancer.
And that’s kind of how it went.
And so it was none of it. We went out looking for it.
It just kind of showed up on our doorstep. And what was nice when I took this job is.

Combining Charity Work with Automotive Aftermarket

[27:47] I love the automotive aftermarket i you know it’s it’s my family um i have lifelong friendships from it and uh going to see my show i always get excited you know it’s it’s like a lot of things every year you think oh god i can go spend a week and walk or you know and stuff but then when you get there i’m so energized and uh um and so when i had the opportunity to combine two things that But I love charity work with the automotive aftermarket. It was like a dream come true.
It was, yeah, I was very blessed.
And so I get to go to work every day and help people.
And, you know, that’s a very fulfilling thing.
So, like I said, I get back way more. So I’m very blessed.

[28:38] You know as you evolve it going to the sema show also and you get a little bit a few more years under your belt of doing it i’m 54 um you really mellow out a whole bunch too and you just go to the show oh yeah do your show go out to your dinner and then go back to your hotel yeah a lot of those young people are crazy there oh yeah i know well and and i used to tell my young sales team when you know we’re being displayed there i said you’re gonna be you know you’re gonna be in in Vegas for the first time and you’re going to this show and there’s going to be parties and receptions, but we still got to be in the booth at, uh, you know, eight o’clock tomorrow morning. And, um.

[29:17] I would say when you got 24, 25-year-olds, that doesn’t always sink in.
And so there’s more than a few times they were not as chipper as they probably should have been the next morning.
But like you said, you learn that.
But it’s fun. A lot of these people, like I said, I consider friends that I’ve known for years.
But the only time we see each other face-to-face is at the SEMA show.
And so it is like going back to a, you know, class reunion or a family reunion or whatever.
And you get to spend a week with these people that you care about and love.
And you may be in contact by phone or email or Facebook or whatever, but when you get to see them again, it’s very energizing.
I will say my kids, yeah, my kids never wanted to go to the SEMA show.
They thought it would be boring this you know and my son i remember him saying oh it’s just going to be a bunch of car parts and stuff and they finally decided to go and uh even.

[30:28] My daughters at the time um they were dating the only reason they went is they were dating somebody that were inter is interested in in cars and they found out that their dad was on the SEMA board.
So I became all of a sudden, dad became cooler than he was before.
But I know my son said, man, if I would have known it was like this, I would have come a long time ago.

The SEMA Show: A Candy Store for Car Enthusiasts

[30:56] It’s a candy store for us car people. It sure is. It sure is.
Okay, so the Automotive Aftermarket Charitable Foundation, which you’re a part of now, a part of the executive director.
When did you, it’s been in place for 65 years. Can you tell me a little bit about how that was founded originally?
Yeah, it was loosely founded by the Pep Boys originally. originally.
And then it kind of laid dormant and a gentleman that had a chain of parts stores on the East Coast and some of the people he knew, they had a colleague that had passed away after a long battle with cancer, eating up all their financial resources and stuff.
And the wife had never worked. And they said, let’s get together and raise some money to help support her.

Golf Tournament: The Beginning

[31:54] And And they were golfers, so they decided to have a golf tournament and start off.
I forget how many golfers they had that first year, but not very many.
And it’s grown now until we sell it out every year at well over 200 golfers.
And so that’s kind of — and it just has grown.
And then as we’ve taken on — we added the natural disasters after all the hurricanes hit Florida Florida and Louisiana and Texas that one year, we had people come to us and said, you know, we don’t want to just give the Red Cross, even though it’s a great thing.
I’m not taking anything away from any of the other charities, but we want to know our money is going to help our customers, our employees or whatever.
There’s a way we could funnel this money through you, these donations and support our own people in the aftermarket that need help.
And so that’s That’s kind of how that developed.

Establishing the need for an executive director

[33:00] 15, the board decided that they had not had it. It was all done by a part-time administrator and the board, all the work, and they decided they needed an executive director.
And because of the charity work I had done and stuff, Chris Kirstein, who was the CEO of SEMA at the time, and a couple others came to me and said, would I be interested in this?
And here it is.

[33:28] And what and what do you as the executive director what is your role like what what are your responsibilities well yeah we’re we’re uh we’re very lean organization so there’s um there’s me and um i have a part-time operations manager um and then we have a board of of 32 members that are all executives in the aftermarket.
And they carry a lot of the load. I mean, they have full-time jobs and families and stuff.
We have different committees and stuff that they’re part of. So that’s how it’s done.
Mostly what we wanna do is get the money. We don’t wanna have a huge staff and we want the money to go to the people we wanna help.
So as we look at the work that you guys do, and I mentioned at the beginning, I don’t think that anybody in the world of the detail side, you know, detail shop owners or people there even realize that this is a charity.
It was the first time I’ve heard of it.
Well, how do you guys find, identify people that need help?
And then how do you get that help to the families and to the people?
Yeah so what um we’re first of all we’re not fema or you know the red cross or whatever um.

[34:55] Or even an insurance company. So we’re not doing the long term, we’re not rebuilding a home or a business or anything.
But what we pride ourselves in is fast.
We usually, when we get the application, it’s usually approved in 24 to 48 hours, and we’ve got to check one out to the person.
So like, I’m going to use the example of the hurricanes.
There’s people, they lost their business lost their home they were sleeping in their car and we were able to get them a check to get them in a hotel you know be able to get food and you know and until the the bigger help came in that was needed you know or their business reopened or their home rebuilt so that’s that’s kind of what we do and where we get these people through mostly through word of mouth through through people on our board, that they have people that work in their companies, through, and then, like I said, we’re doing a lot more social media.

Spreading awareness through word of mouth and social media

[36:01] We have magazines that donate advertising to us.
And then I go out and speak at different events, and I do things like, Dan, you’re a podcaster, to let people know.
And so that’s it. And most of the thing I hear is just like what you said.
It’s like we didn’t even know this existed.

[36:25] We just helped a young man here in Sacramento that works for Interstate Batteries.
They lost their home completely burnt down fast in a fire.
And one of our board members is from the Interstate Battery Corporate.
And he found out about it through a district manager or something.
And we got some money to him to help him get back on their feet while they were waiting for insurance money and stuff.
And again, the same that when I delivered the check, I don’t get to meet most of the people because they’re all over the United States, but this one happened to be in my backyard. So I actually hand-delivered the check.
And he was just amazed. He just said, I didn’t even know this was out here until somebody brought it to my attention.

[37:15] And that makes you feel good.
So knowing that not many people in the detail side at least are aware of this, is there a particular segment of the automotive industry that is most prevalent that you’re working with?
And I would think only because people don’t necessarily know about it.
But is there one segment that is really the most biggest customer?
No, it’s pretty much spread out between, like I said, the auto care side, auto care MEMA and SEMA people.
And it’s, you know, from all different areas and different needs.
I mean, we’ve had everything from an autistic child that kept wandering away from home that we got a support dog for to help the family to they couldn’t afford to bury a parent and we paid funeral expenses.
And then of course the normal ones they’ve along about with cancer or some other illness that they ran up medical bills or they weren’t able to work for a long time would have gone gone in and been able to help support them and get them back going again.
So it’s a wide variety and it’s across the whole different industries.

Assisting with a wide range of needs across different industries

[38:34] But what happens is, just like you said, with the detailing or the, you know.

[38:40] We had a gentleman on our board with Caliber Collision, and so we started getting more collision applications in because through his connections, people started hearing about it.
But and unfortunately, I don’t like to say this is a good thing, but where we probably got the most PR, so to speak, was those those first big hurricanes, because, you know, it was such a disaster and hit, you know, so many different people that there was there was a lot of press done on it.
A lot of articles and stuff. And so that’s, that’s probably, I probably heard more than that, you know, people, companies saying, man, this is great. We didn’t even know this was out here. So, yeah.

[39:27] I don’t wish for anything to happen like that to get the word out there, but that’s how it’s gone.
What kind of a volume or level of funds are you guys distributing to people to help them each year? And does all that money come from donations?
Yeah, it’s either from our donations, from our golf tournament, the sponsors and people at Golf and It. And then just, yeah, donations.
The three associations, SEMA, MEMA, and AutoCare all support us yearly.
And then, like I said, there’s a lot of companies out there.
We have some individuals that are big donors every year that are actually retired out of this industry and still give money to us every year. So there’s about four and a half million people in the aftermarket that are employed.

[40:21] And, you know, we’re here to help every single one of them.
But we’ve given out in the last 10 years, we’ve given out five, I think, over $5 million to people out there.
So helping different families. And again, most of them, they’re not huge amounts.
We’re not giving out $100,000 at a time, but it’s enough to get somebody back on their feet or to help them for a short time.
And this is for the owners of stores and business owners as well as employees all the way down?
Anybody that needs that work.

Providing support to anyone in the industry facing financial difficulties

[41:01] It can be a janitor, a truck driver.

[41:06] To be honest, that’s who we have most because to qualify, there’s got to be a financial need. So, in other words, you can’t have a million dollars in your savings account and then want money from us to help you.
We’re helping people that they have nowhere else to turn.
I mean, there’s cases, like I said, where people are living in their cars or, you know, waiting to get help or…

Helping the Counter People in Automotive Aftermarket

[41:33] A lot of different things. So most of the people we’re helping are more what I’ll call the counter people, the second and third level people that don’t have the savings and the resources that others may have.
So that’s kind of where it goes.
And then so most of people I guess the short answer most of people are are the the factory workers the counter people that those people more more than the owners and stuff that are probably in better financial shape and that was kind of the next question that I wanted to ask exactly automotive aftermarket I know when I was doing some work with F departments through dealerships and stuff they would always refer to what I was doing is aftermarket like it was a A big separation.
This doesn’t cover people through car dealerships. Is this just people who manufacture parts and products and who retail them, essentially?
Yes, retail and distribute them. However, it’s up before our board right now because the dealerships have gotten into accessories way more than they did in the past.

[42:44] And quite honestly, I know from back in my SEMA days and stuff, The OEs were kind of the, you know, they were the Darth Vader, my Star Wars reference.
They were the Darth Vader out there. But, you know, they’ve become more and more.
A lot of these guys have big accessory shops at their dealership.
So right now our board is making a decision on if we’re going to open this up to car dealerships also.

[43:13] And are there any really, you know, neat stories of somebody who you guys did help, who you’ve seen, been able to see the help or hear from them afterwards, where the great story of success came from?
Yeah, there’s a lot of, yeah, that’s, again, what…

[43:31] Makes me uh go to go to work happy in the morning um we we um um we had a young man a truck driver with uh o’reilly auto parts that uh he was a single dad had terminal cancer and his he was wanting to be able to be able to spend time with his son but um financially be able to do and stuff and uh um we were able to help him and um you know he he passed um away but he has uh every every month or two we’ll get a anywhere a $25 check or $100 check and say this is um his his name was Joel um that um you know that this is uh to give back to you for you guys helping and Joel.
And he passed away, I think it’s been about three, four years.
And we still get every now and then a check will show up with somebody, a relative or a friend and say, we just wanted to give back to you guys. So that’s a cool one.
There’s one that really got to me was a young young couple had a child that was born with a terminal illness that was not going to live, I forget, past two or three years old or something.

[44:56] And they both worked in the industry, and we were able to give them the opportunity to take some time off from work and spend it with that child before he passed, and then also to grieve for a while afterwards.
So we were able to, you know, to ease that burden from them and help them do that.

[45:18] And we had another lady that she, I talked to her personally, and her biggest worry, she was dying.
She had terminal cancer and had worked in the industry a long time.
And her biggest worry was that her kids weren’t going to be able to afford to, she didn’t want them to have the burden of burying her and stuff.
And so we got together with the funeral home and everything.
We made sure that was taken care of.
So it’s, you know, like I said, it’s been a wide range.
Those are the ones that touch my heart. We’ve had others that were just, you know, they just needed some help getting back on their feet for a while after an accident or a sickness or something.
And we do, you know, we give them money to pay their rent or pay their car payment or whatever. So.

[46:15] It’s incredible coming through for people at the time of need, you know, at their darkest time and being able to have this charity there, which I’m so glad that I heard of it because I know that a lot of people in the detail world will hear of it through this.
And a lot of the people that are maybe in the auto detailing world, because it’s a really unregulated area, a lot of them don’t necessarily.
Necessarily, and I’ll back up a little bit saying, I work with a lot of people doing business coaching and stuff.
And I really try to push people to make sure that they’re covered.
A lot of people don’t have a retirement in place, or they don’t have the proper insurances, or even some of the detail people are not even running the proper insurances that they need to keep them out of trouble in case, you know, something catastrophic happened that was even their own fault.
Do you Do you find that that’s prevalent across the other parts of the industry in automotive as well?
Yeah, it’s, you know, you know, I think that detailing is because it’s a newer, newer part of the industry as far as how it’s developed over the years.
There’s probably more of that and there are more mom and pop type shops.

[47:28] So, you know, that’s different than even though we help people from large corporations like Firestone or Bridgestone or, you know, Pep Boys or Riley’s or whatever, a lot of them have good programs to help their employees.
Employees, but they’re maxed out at a certain amount.
And so we even work with those where, let’s say, they can only do so much and the person needs more.
So we come in and pick up where there’s ends.
So just even though a company has a program, sometimes it’s not enough to cover and we can come in and help with that.

[48:15] Okay. Now, if somebody wants to either learn more or participate or help in

Ways to Support and Get Involved with the Charity

[48:22] any way, because I’m sure that there may be, well, I’m not sure of anything telling the truth, but there could be ways, you know, maybe that are not even financial that people can help you guys out.
What are some ways, both by donating and how to and like other actions that people could take that would help the charity? Yeah, the biggest thing is, like I said, we want to help more people.
I know that it’s kind of like you say, you want to sell more product.
We want to give more money away and help more people.
And we know there’s probably a bigger need out there if we can get the word out.
So that number one is helping us get the word out. We have a — for companies, we have a couple programs that — where it doesn’t cost them anything. And it’s a –.

[49:09] Free employee benefits, so to speak. We supply them with posters to put in their break rooms.
We give them templates for that they can put in their newsletter or, you know, to communicate with their employees and let them know we’re out here.
And so that’s one way and it doesn’t cost anything.

[49:30] You know, it’s not, I mean, don’t get me wrong.
My board members see this. I got to make sure i said you know we do need money we need to we we need to have money to help these people but um we want to help more people and um we i know our board feels and i feel this way that uh if we get to a point where we’re helping so many people that we’re struggling a little bit, you know on our end um with having the money i know this industry and and the word get out there that they’ll donate, they’ll come around.
So this industry is a very giving industry.
And so if you go on to aftermarketcharity.org, on our website, it has all this information.
They can contact me or send info in, and that shows them how to, if they know someone that needs help, how they can apply. why.
It shows them about our awareness program to use in their place of business.
And it tells them about our golf tournament and a donation page on how they can donate.
So that’s where the best information can be is on aftermarketcharity.org.

[50:48] Gotcha. I participate in a charity golf tournament every year for Cristo Rey.
It’s a school for immigrant children who are coming in.
What a fun way to participate in a charity.

[51:01] Yes yeah and we have a we have a great golf turn i mean it’s like i said we uh we we for um, quite a few years we were fortunate one of our early board members lived next door to arnold palmer and and he was able to get him to actually come and put on a little clinic and and go off with some of the guys and stuff and which was it was pretty cool and and um uh when we were able to to do that um but um it’s fun and we have lots of great prizes that companies donate um we have this year we had tickets and and travel vouchers and stuff for the um the uh f1 races formula one races um that we we were able to auction off and so it’s it is like i said it is a good way you get to have fun play at a beautiful golf course and and help people at the same time yeah i think the the information that we laid out in this podcast may be one of the most important ones for the audience that listens that we’ve done.
Because like I said, I don’t think anybody knows about this.
So I’m happy to be a part of getting the word out to try to help people that are out there that need it.
Thank you. We appreciate you doing that, Dan.
And again, your listeners out there, or get in touch with us and help us help people.

[52:23] There you go. So there you go. All heroes don’t wear a cape.
Mr. Joel Ayers, thank you so much for taking some time out of your day to share this information with the community on the Owner’s Pride podcast.
Thank you very much. I appreciate your time.


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