The aftermarket lost a tireless supporter and industry advocate in late April with the passing of Wally Clayson at age 90.
Wally began his career in 1965 and was the owner of Wally Clayson’s Service Centre-Shell on Mt. Pleasant Rd. for 45 years then, when the site was being turned into condos, moved to a Laird Dr. location operating as Wally Clayson’s Master Mechanic.
It was during this time that I met Wally, first as the owner of the Shell on Mount Pleasant, two blocks south of my home where I lived starting in the early 90s.
I bought gas and had some service done, but in those early years we got to know each other much more through his work with the Automotive Aftermarket Retailers of Ontario (AARO) and his charity golf tournament, held annually at Cardinal Golf Club just west of Newmarket, Ont.
Wally was President of Automotive Aftermarket Retailers of Ontario (AARO) from 1986 to 1999. He served on the Board of Directors during those years and was re-elected as the President again in 2004/2005 and retired in May of 2005.
In 1975 he started the AARO Charity Golf tournament raising awareness and funds for Holland Bloorview Kids Foundation Rehab Hospital.
His dedication to this cause raised more than $300,000 and in 2017 AARO Board members went to the unveiling of the newly renovated AARO Children’s Therapy Gym at Bloorview Children’s Rehab Hospital.
It was at some time in the intervening years that we started talking on the phone about the industry at length.
Later, when he retired and stepped back from most duties with the Laird Master Mechanic shop, leaving it in the capable hands of son-in-law Steve Perusits, who has been the owner for some years now, Wally would would still ring me up.
He would call me every couple of months to see if I was free to join him lunch at The Duncan House, but he had a knack for picking times when I was travelling or otherwise unavailable so we only were able to meet there for lunch just once.
I will not forget however that in one of the conversations was his admission that early on in his career he realized that while he was a good tech, he could make more money with a pencil than a wrench. And I wonder to this day how many techs turned business owners have come to that realization so early, and so completely.
It’s just another way that Wally was an exceptional part of our industry.
He is survived by Beverly, spouse of 69 years and his children, Wally (Penny), Larry (Vicki) and Dianne (Steve). Proud Grandpa/Papa to Jenn, Jess, Greg, Megan (Andrew), Sean, Danielle (Zack). Great-Grandpa of Kaylee, Hannah, Addelynn, Grace and Brayden.
Special thanks to AARO for some of the information in this article.