A guest editorial by Joe Mittelman, vice president of The Aftermarket Foundation
The function of The Aftermarket Foundation
is to locate and assist people from the aftermarket who, because of
catastrophic injury or terrible illness, have fallen on hard times and
financially have no other place to turn.
The Aftermarket Foundation was started 50 years ago by a few of the
largest chain store owners at the time, in honor of the late
manufacturer’s representative, Ray Jesselson. They had the best of
intentions to help those in need in the aftermarket with their Jesselson
Fund. However, as entrepreneurs, they were far more preoccupied in
growing their chains, which today are among the largest in America: Pep
Boys and Advance Auto Parts.
So, for 20 years, the fund languished until another chain store owner,
Donald Schlenger, decided to breathe life into it again. Don contacted
several industry people 30 years or so ago to ascertain our interest in
being involved, and we all thought it a great idea. Together, we made a
go of it and it has grown greatly since then. Our current name, The
Aftermarket Foundation, replaced Jesselson, as by that time there were
very few who remembered him. For these past 30 years, there have been
many industry executives who joined our board, and who have unselfishly
given of their time and expertise.
Today, our board is composed of 28 high-powered volunteers from all
areas of the aftermarket. They work hard on our behalf because they
believe in the cause. One of our board committees, headed by Bob
Schoeberl, is responsible for organizing our great golf tournament put
on each year the Monday before AAPEX opens in Las Vegas. This tournament
is always a sellout, and brings the largest single influx of working
capital to continue our work.
Other income is derived through generous
donations by individuals, and from many of the nations largest
retailers, distributors, jobber groups and manufacturers. We also
receive yearly donations from several of the major aftermarket
associations: AAIA, SEMA, MEMA, PWA to name a few.
We like to think of The Aftermarket Foundation is a kind of safety net.
After our aftermarket friends have tried relatives, federal, state,
county or other aid, and there is still great need, we are there for
them. Through the years we have taken on and helped many heartbreaking
cases, involving ourselves both physically and emotionally with these
friends and colleagues while helping them make up their financial
shortfall. It might be a one-time effort on our part, or one that
continues until the recipient has recovered and is able to return to
Occasionally, a recipient may be collecting a very minimal Social
Security check, and we may need to assist them for a much longer time.
Each case is uniquely different and needs its own individual vetting and
solution. We’re constantly looking for new sources of income to be able
to take on more of these heartbreaking cases. One of our most vital
needs is to make ourselves far more visible to all parts of our industry
so that we can be the beacon to help these people find our unique
source of help.
With this in mind, we are in the midst of building a new, exciting and
comprehensive website through the efforts and generosity of Cypress
Technology Group. This is the company that works closely with the PRONTO
group. And, while board member Murray Sullivan of PRONTO has been on
our revenue growth committee and working hard toward bringing in
additional dollars, Bill Maggs, president of Pronto and chairman of
AWDA, has taken the bull by the horns, jumped into the arena and
directed the Cypress Group to work with us on this new website project.
Bill Maggs, being one of the best-known and admired executives in the
industry, brings the hope of much greater involvement from other
corporate executives. This new website is not only vitally important as a
tool to bring in needed dollars, but also will also help people in
great need realize there is help for them out there.
costs are very minimal and that means that unlike so many other
non-profit entities with large overheads, almost all of the dollars we
take in will go where it is needed toward the benefit of those members
of the aftermarket. This group of selfless automotive execs works
tirelessly to help those in trouble. This is just one more of the
advantages offered to those who make their living in this amazing
industry of ours.
For those interested in making a donation, either as
an individual or in a company name, we accept checks, credit cards or
PayPal. The Aftermarket Foundation is a 501(C)3 charitable organization
and all donations are tax-deductible. Please visit AftermarketFoundation.org for more information.