OESAA Chairman, Nigel Morgan, answers questions about the return of Autoinform Live, members joining the organisation, the progress of member synergies and recruitment.
Q: Nigel, how did it feel seeing the Autoinform Live banners back out and visitors walking through the doors after a two-year hiatus?
Nigel Morgan (NM): “After the COVID-19 pandemic put a stop to Autoinform Live, we were delighted to be able to run two separate events in Wolverhampton and Dublin in November 2021 and April 2022 respectively.
“If technicians were apprehensive about attending large-scale events, they didn’t show it! We were thrilled with the levels of engagement, passion and interest in the various seminars and workshop programmes that were on offer. What’s more, technicians were able to gain important Institute of the Motor Industry qualifications following specific seminars.
“It was a reminder that there is still a large demand from forward-thinking professionals, eager to strengthen their offering, so customers aren’t tempted to go elsewhere or to the main dealer. Our members are all determined to relinquish their knowledge, to the advantage of the independent aftermarket workshop, and visitors took full advantage.
“Elsewhere, we’ve been both flattered and reassured that our strategy of being a supportive arm to aftermarket personnel, showing the demise of the internal combustion engine is a long way off – at least from an aftermarket perspective – has proved right, with the arrival of new members and a passionate garage forum network.
“That said, we’re also acutely aware of the increasing influence and numbers of electric and hybrid vehicles, gradually filtering into the aftermarket, and we are ready to support technicians that are servicing and repairing those vehicle types too.”
Q: Let’s focus on the new members – which brands have OESAA welcomed over the last 12 months?
NM: “Waeco, BILSTEIN, Laser Tools, First Brands Group, Brembo and Delphi Technologies have all joined OESAA over the last 12 months. They all bring different product groups and ideas to the organisation, but all have the same drive and determination to protect the interests of the independent automotive aftermarket.
“Laser Tools, for example, is the first tool supplier to become an OESAA member. Undoubtedly, with our appetite to produce synergies between our members as strong as ever, Laser Tools will be heavily involved in supplying the tools when it comes to repair and replacements.
“With a clear structure, defined strategy of defending the automotive aftermarket and strengthening both technicians’ technical and business acumen, it is no coincidence that OE brands are lining up to join our vision.
“That said, while we’re encouraging more brands to join us, they must do their bit in terms of engaging with other members to create the content that professionals are craving, liaise with members of the garage forum and contribute their valuable knowledge and experience to the group – they do that, the group and the aftermarket as a whole will be stronger for it.”
Q: Synergies between OESAA members are clearly a priority for the organisation – what do they entail?
NM: “Members, with their own set of specialisms, come together to help produce a block of content that features video, images and a write-up; for example, Dayco, Fil Filter, Schaeffler and Motul all contributed to a 1.2 Puretech Belt in Oil system project. Our experts offered advice on efficient system diagnosis, replacement, supporting services and commercial advice that would help a workshop’s reception.
“We are just putting the finishing touches to our latest project, which features Delphi Technologies and Laser Tools. Following the same media format, the first video is a case study of changing the gearbox oil on a Volkswagen Passat plug-in hybrid. The aim is to provide advice and expertise on common service jobs on hybrid and electric vehicles (EVs). The next video will look at the pressure test on an EV battery on a Nissan Leaf.
“We’ve also hosted several webinars, including one held by Schaeffler and DENSO. These types of sessions are designed and scheduled so technicians can use their break and/or downtime to digest bitesize pieces of technical content.
“We’re hungry to do more and are confident our audience wants us to create more as well – this, along with a couple of other new projects for later this year, should ensure professionals receive the support they need.”
Q: Recruitment and the skills gap are two intrinsically linked terms – what is your view on this issue and how is OESAA supporting this issue?
NM: “We were pleased to host Autotech Group’s Talent Recharge presentation in Dublin, with the idea to help automotive businesses devise and deploy successful long-term talent strategies – keeping the recruitment conversation going and retaining professionals within the industry.
“It was concerning to hear that the majority of workshops Autotech Group surveyed, during its first Talent Recharge event, believe that recruiting skilled technicians will become harder and that the skills shortage is holding their business back from making higher profits.
“The relationships with our garage forum and Autotech Group will be crucial on this topic, so we can use our collective brains to take action.”