Executives from nine auto care industry companies met with U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., last Friday in Memphis for a roundtable discussion facilitated by the Auto Care Association on the industry’s most pressing public policy priorities.
The roundtable began with an overview of the auto care industry’s presence in Tennessee, exemplified by the nearly 78,000 jobs and $20 billion in economic impact. Next, the conversation turned toward trade policy—an important issue for an industry that imports and exports billions of dollars’ worth of parts and components. Participants shared how tariffs and uncertainty in the trade environment have increased the cost of repairs for vehicle owners and left businesses without the certainty they need to make long-term investments.
Finally, the group discussed equal access to wirelessly transmitted vehicle data and how the businesses in the room would be negatively affected should both consumers and independent repair shops be denied cybersecure and direct access to important diagnostic and driver data.
The roundtable included the following attendees, each representing a different segment of the auto parts and service supply chain:
- Mark Finestone, executive vice president, merchandising, supply chain, and marketing, customer satisfaction, Auto Zone, Inc.
- David McKinney, vice president, government and community relations, Auto Zone, Inc.
- Joe Venezia, president, Bridgestone Retail
- Jimmy Turner, owner, Christian Brothers Automotive
- Ray Pohlman, president, Coalition for Auto Repair Equality (CARE)
- Patrick O’Leary, president, DRIVE Sales and Marketing
- Ian Musselman, senior vice president, government affairs, LKQ Corporation
- David Prater, president, The Network
- Cal Wilkins, chairman and CEO, TascoSalesReps
- Mike Boyer, president, TascoSalesReps
- Gabrielle Hopkins, vice president, federal affairs, Auto Care Association
“It is important that we in the automotive aftermarket industry continue to inform and engage elected officials on critical issues impacting the industry and more importantly, our customers,” said Mark Finestone, chairman, board of directors, Auto Care Association, and senior vice president, merchandising, supply chain and marketing, customer satisfaction, AutoZone. “Specifically, regarding vehicle-generated data or telematics, our customers have made it clear that they should control and have access to this information, and we will continue to advocate in support of our customers, the motoring public.”
“We appreciate the opportunity to sit down with Senator Blackburn to discuss critical issues for the auto care industry,” said Mike Boyer, president, TascoSalesReps. “Trade policy, vehicle data access and consumer control of vehicle data are key to ensuring the health of our industry and safety of vehicle owners.”
Senator Blackburn shared the following statement: “I appreciate the auto care industry sitting down to talk trade, technology, consumer safety and choice.”
To learn more about the Auto Care Association’s government affairs initiatives, visit autocare.org/government-affairs.