art fisher award for excellence in education

This annual award, presented in memory of former AWDA Chairman Art Fisher, recognizes a company or individual for their leadership and commitment to education and training, either within their own organization or throughout the industry. Winners will be drawn from traditional industry participants including jobbers, distributors, repair shops or manufacturers. Funds from the Art Fisher scholarship program shall be presented in the name of the award winner(s) to two undergraduate students enrolled in the automotive aftermarket management program at Northwood University, Midland, MI.


The Automotive Warehouse Distributors Association (AWDA), a community of the Auto Care Association, presented the 2019 Excellence in Education Award, in Honor of Art Fisher, to The Group Training Academy (The Academy). The award was presented by the 2018 recipient, Eric Sills, president, Standard Motor Products, and was accepted on behalf of the Academy by Robert Roos, President, National Pronto Association and Phil Moore, Sr. Vice-president, Federated Auto Parts Distributors, on Nov. 3 at AWDA’s 2019 Annual Conference in Las Vegas, Nev.

AWDA’s Excellence in Education Award is presented annually to an aftermarket company or individual that demonstrates outstanding commitment to education and training, either within their organization or throughout the industry. Given in memory of former AWDA Chairman Art Fisher, the award grants scholarships in the name of the award winner to two students enrolled in the automotive aftermarket management program at Northwood University.

The Academy is an online training platform designed and put into service by the Automotive Parts Services Group (The Group) to provide comprehensive learning paths for professional technicians, shop owners, shop managers, and warehouse distributor sales and management teams associated with members of the Federated Auto Parts Distributors and National Pronto Association program marketing groups.

“Our industry is desperate for more resources related to training on all fronts,” said Charles Crouse, president and co-owner, TBA & Oil Warehouse Inc. “Suppliers, WDs, installer shops and technicians are all included. The Group identified this need a few years ago and has put together a fantastic industry resource related to training.”

The Academy provides a three-pronged approach for shops, warehouse distributors and vendor partners to access a wide selection of training resources designed for all levels of experience and ability. It is a one-stop shop for all things training-related. All courses are available online, 24/7, so users have the flexibility to proceed at their own pace and take courses whenever it is most convenient. Much of the training is available in multi-language formats and there are competency tests included in coordination with SAE.

“The most innovative thing about The Group Training Academy is that it represents a multi-dimensional concept where members and business partners can take advantage of live or on-line training, webinars or other media,” said Cliff Hovis, president, Hovis Auto & Truck Supply, Inc.

For shops, rookie technicians to master mechanics can take advantage of ASE Test Prep, as well as training related to diagnostics, diesel, hybrid, management, HVAC, tools and equipment. 

Distributor personnel at all levels can also access Academy training resources including product tutorials, marketing videos and training content produced specifically to ensure the most competent and professional interactions with the customer. 

Finally, the Academy offers vendor partners a venue to obtain training and product information in the hands of the professionals that sell and install their parts. 

“Having one place where everybody can go for training really helps incentivize our people to get out there and actually do it,” said Ashley Arnold, Vice-president, Arnold Oil Company.

“It's so important that the Group Training Academy is being recognized tonight,” said Bill Hanvey, president and CEO, Auto Care Association. “They are taking a proactive stance towards training and preparing our industry for the future. Their investment and efforts can serve as an example for other companies and organizations to develop their own, much-needed resources.”

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