Aftermarket suppliers are facing disruptions to their business due to “shelter-in-place” orders from states, disruptions that go against Homeland Security’s designation of automotive parts manufacturing “essential manufacturing” and automotive repair shops as “essential business.” The Automotive Aftermarket Suppliers Association (AASA) is working with supplier members to navigate the situation and take steps to keep appropriate facilities open; AASA has gathered the relevant federal guidelines, continued work to fight for suppliers rights to operate as essential businesses, and is sharing important information on how suppliers can address issues as they arise.
“Bottom line, this country and our economy need appropriate aftermarket facilities, and jobs, to continue in a responsible manner,” commented Paul McCarthy, President and COO of AASA. “We continue to fight hard for our industry and the supplier community in these challenging circumstances.
Automotive aftermarket suppliers should understand the following:
- Homeland Security has identified auto repair as essential.
- We need functioning vehicles to take workers to hospitals and goods to grocery stores.
- Homeland Security, however, only issues recommendations to states. States and localities are currently responsible for this decision-making.
- In addition, the manufacturing of automotive parts has been identified by Homeland security as critical manufacturing.
- This logically extends to suppliers’ warehouse/distribution and fulfillment. The analogy is that we are like farmers – no point in keeping grocery stores open if they cannot be supplied.
- If you have questions on the critical list, the contact is: CISA.CAT@cisa.dhs.gov.
What AASA is doing on behalf of members and the industry:
- Earlier this week, we organized a coalition and then sent a letter to the governors and mayors that vehicle repair should be considered essential, which was successful.
- Connecting with the governors’ association, the lieutenant governors association, and directly to the governors’ offices in the “stay-at-home” states to inform them that our industry has been identified as essential and ensure they would act accordingly.
- There has been some inconsistency in implementation; AASA is directly with these suppliers on their specific concerns.
- We are seeking clarification on the designation as “essential” for distribution and fulfillment in critical industries.
- We are submitting a letter to President Trump and Vice President Pence to strongly encourage the federal government to mandate essential businesses like ours, so we do not continue to have the statewide patchwork and confusion.
- We are also working with our Mexican counterparts to write a letter to encourage the Mexican government to take appropriate steps so our supply chain in Mexico is protected.
What Suppliers can do:
- The Administration has directed us to tell members to reach out to governors directly if they are having problems with business restrictions.
- In most cases we have heard they have been responsive, though they appear overwhelmed.
- Please find here the key information on business restrictions and contacts at state government to request business continuation for the states that have issued “stay-at-home” orders.
- To help members be ahead of the curve, AASA is gathering contacts for the remaining states and will post on our website.
What should suppliers do when their facility is deemed essential:
- If your facility is designated as “essential” and allowed to stay open, how do you protect your employees from being stopped by police or other officials?
- First, make sure each of your employees has a copy of the official state designation.
- Second, provide employees with a personalized letter indicating that this person is working at an “essential” business. Make sure the information on the letter reflects the name and address employees have on their individual drivers’ license.
- Third, counsel your employees to stay calm and provide them with a phone number at your facility if any questions should arise.
AASA have created a suppliers’ discussion group on LinkedIn, AASA COVID-19 Forum, where suppliers can post appropriate information on your experiences and advice to other suppliers.