The late Bob Greenwood was named as this year’s recipient of the Automotive Industries Association of Canada’s Distinguished Service Award, the highest award presented by the association.
Greenwood, who passed away in the fall of 2021, was a much-respected trainer and business consultant to the industry and founder of the Automotive Aftermarket E-Learning Centre. His focus was primarily on the business operations of the automotive service provider, and on raising their profile and professional image.
He was honoured with the award at the recent AIA Convention and AGM.
Bob Greenwood was president and CEO of Automotive Aftermarket E-Learning Centre founded in 1997, but his work as an aftermarket business coach goes back further.
For more than four decades Bob Greenwood was a cornerstone of Canada’s automotive aftermarket, providing expert guidance and consultancy to automotive service providers across Canada, and those who wanted to understand the service providers’ business better.
He was a pioneer in changing the way the aftermarket referred to the service segment, driving out the term “installer” from common usage in favour of the term automotive service provider. He played a pivotal role in turning many auto shop owners from tradespeople to businesspeople and successful entrepreneurs.
He had expanded the reach of his coaching throughout North America and was one of a founding group that created the Coalition of Automotive Management Professionals.
He was a prolific contributor to many aftermarket media outlets and received numerous professional awards for his work in the industry, including the Northwood University Automotive Aftermarket Management Education Award for 2003, the “Training Provider of the Year” Award Mechanical Service Repair Segment by the Automotive Management Institute in 2003, and one of 37 Canadians within the Canadian automotive industry honoured by the Governor General of Canada and awarded the prestigious Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.
He was instrumental in having that term used to describe the professionals working in the repair sector over the term “installer.”
“He hated the term installer to identify a shop,” said John Cochrane, a long-time friend, aftermarket business owner, and former AIA chair in accepting the award on behalf of the Greenwood family. “He just hated it. This denoted, there was no skill involving in repairing a vehicle. He just installs parts for the fix, no diagnosis or skill evolved. This was the pet peeve of his. His mantra was to be called the automotive service provider. And, and if you take anything from Bob and what he really believed in, when you’re talking to your shops, please don’t call them installers.
“I called him a pioneer for the service repair industry as he helped many shops, thrive and survive in the major challenges the industry continually goes through. Needless to say, at times it was frustrating for him to have a vision and then try to make everyone else see it too.
“Some of the lasting things learned from Bob that helped run my parts and service operation: Believe it or not the right way to shake hands. There is a right way to do it. The image of your shop portrayed was vital. He always used to say, ‘Go outside, look at your shop. What does it represent? What does it look like? Is it professional?’ Training customers into lasting loyal clients. How to present the invoice to the client. It’s a $3,000 repair bill, and you’re asking somebody to put in $3,000. You need to present the invoice properly.”
Before Cochrane thanked the association on behalf of the Greenwood family, he laid out a challenge to the industry:
“We need somebody that will take the torch and do the work that Bob did.”
The AIA Distinguished Service Award recognizes outstanding service and leadership, which contributes to the growth and development of Canada’s automotive aftermarket industry. It is the highest award presented by AIA Canada to an individual member.