Lifetime Achievement Award in Honor of Martin Fromm

Lifetime Achievement Award in Honor of Martin Fromm

This very selective award recognizes individuals who have, over the course of a career spanning many years, distinguished themselves through their integrity, unselfish commitment to, and high level of performance within the motor vehicle aftermarket industry. Nominees will be considered "backbones" of the industry, individuals who have led great organizations of all sizes and/or industry causes, created jobs and/or opportunities and demonstrated exemplary service to customers, suppliers, peers and the motoring public. Award winners need not be AWDA members.

2023 RECIPIENT: Fred Bunting

The Aftermarket Warehouse Distributors Association (AWDA), a community of the Auto Care Association, presented its 2023 Lifetime Achievement Award in Honor of Martin Fromm to Fred Bunting, Co-Founder and Chairman of the Auto-Wares Group of Companies.  The award was presented by AWDA Chairperson Ashlee Arnold on October 29th at AWDA’s 2023 Annual Conference in Las Vegas.

AWDA’s Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes individuals who have, over the course of many years, distinguished themselves through their unselfish commitment to, and high level of performance within, the motor vehicle aftermarket industry. The award is named in honor of former AWDA President Martin Fromm.

Over the past half century, few individuals have contributed to the growth and strength of the automotive aftermarket as significantly as Fred Bunting.  The industry mogul has created one of the Midwest’s most dominant and reputable warehouse distributors, helped found and grow the Aftermarket Auto Parts Alliance, Inc., served in a variety of industry leadership positions, and, with his company, won nearly industry accolade available.

Based in Grand Rapids, Mich., Auto-Wares boasts roughly 300 corporate and independently owned stores and services nearly 700 Auto Value, Bumper to Bumper, and Confidence Plus Certified Service Centers across five states. The distribution network specializes in extensive inventory, product knowledge, and full-service programs.

Bunting was present at the company’s beginning, when he and two others co-founded Auto-Wares in a small, old facility in Grand Rapids in 1976. He led the company as it joined the Auto Value program group, made its first acquisition, established its collection of specialty companies, and expanded its footprint.

But his aftermarket journey began many years before that, when he was just 14. A third-generation auto parts professional, Bunting began working in the family aftermarket business as a teenager and dabbled in every job in the warehouse. His family sold the business while he was in college, and he started Auto-Wares less than a decade later.

Auto-Wares Group, under Bunting has led the way in educating the industry as exemplified by receiving every major industry education award.  Auto-Wares has also thrived in the realm of operations. In 2010, the company was awarded the Polk Inventory Award for its implementation of an improved stock planning initiative which linked VIO data with a third-party inventory system to build market-specific profiles and provided custom inventory models for each, among other initiatives.  His commitment to technology advancements for the industry was acknowledged in 2012, with AAIA’s Technology Award at the AAPEX show for his involvement in telematics.

Bunting and Auto-Wares have been members of AWDA for more than 40 years and he has served on the association’s board of governors. He has been a member of the Michigan Automotive Parts Association (MAPA) for over 40 years as well, and formerly held a seat on the University of the Aftermarket Foundation Board of Trustees.


Previous Award Recipients
  • 2022 Aaron Lowe
  • 2021 Richard Beirne
  • 2020 E. Fletcher Lord, Jr., AAP
  • 2019 Rusty Bishop
  • 2018 Greg Henslee
  • 2017 Tom Gallagher
  • 2016 Larry Pavey
  • 2015 Michael Lambert
  • 2014 Dale Larson
  • 2013 Walter Spence
  • 2013 Clay Buzzard
  • 2012 Jack F. Creamer
  • 2011 Lawrence I. Sills
  • 2010 Robert J. Susor
  • 2009 Neal L. Williams, Sr.
  • 2008 Richard H. Morgan
  • 2007 Aaron Berkowitz
  • 2006 Arthur E. Lottes, III
  • 2005 David O’Reilly
  • 2004 Kathleen Schmatz
  • 2003 Mort Schwartz
  • 2002 Al Gaspar, AAP
  • 2001 Robert R. Miller
  • 2000 Larry McCurdy
  • 1999 Tim Lee, AAP
  • 1998 Basil Mezines
  • 1997 Robert Raff, MAAP