AWDA announces 2021 industry award winners

The winners were recognized at the 2021 AWDA Reception event in Las Vegas, Nev. The annual AWDA Industry awards honor individuals and companies who have shown an exceptional ability to educate, innovate, manage and lead.

By Camille Sheehan, of the Auto Care Association staff

The Aftermarket Warehouse Distributors Association (AWDA), a community of the Auto Care Association, recognized the recipients of its annual AWDA Industry Awards on Oct. 31. The winners were recognized at the 2021 AWDA Reception event in Las Vegas, Nev. The annual AWDA Industry awards honor individuals and companies who have shown an exceptional ability to educate, innovate, manage and lead. Over the years, the list of AWDA award recipients has evolved into a who’s-who of aftermarket luminaries.


Pursuit of Excellence Award

Recipient: Mauro Cifelli, president and CEO, Del Vasto

Established in 1983, the Pursuit of Excellence Award is presented exclusively to an AWDA member for special achievement and for the setting of high standards as an example for others to follow, in business and in volunteer or advocacy efforts.

Cifelli joined the Del Vasto organization in 1994 and has held a variety of positions in the areas of Information Technology, Marketing, Sales and Customer Service.  In 2018 he was named President and CEO. Over the past 27 years, he has played a pivotal role within the organization. His inspiring leadership, obvious management skills and extensive knowledge of the industry have served him well in driving the advancement of the organization’s vision and mission.

Cifelli’s leadership talents have been applied in volunteer settings.  He was Chairman of the Automotive Industries Association of Canada at both the Provincial and National levels and also serves as director and treasurer of the Aftermarket Auto Parts Alliance Board of Directors. During his recent 2-year term as AWDA Chairman, the aftermarket industry was forced to deal with the COVID pandemic and resulting move to all-virtual Conferences Board meetings.  

“Mauro was a fantastic partner throughout his term as chairman, but never did his leadership shine more brightly than in the early days of COVD,” said Larry Northup, executive director, AWDA. “Like everyone, he faced huge business and personal challenges, but he never let them negatively affect his AWDA chairmanship. Mauro was an absolute rock—the right guy, at the right time.”

Outstanding Leadership Award

Recipient: Roger McCollum, chairman and CEO, N.A. Williams Company

Each year, AWDA bestows this prestigious award, formerly known as the “Leader of the Year,” on an aftermarket professional who has contributed to the industry in a unique and significant way. The award is named in honor of former AWDA President, Jack Creamer.

In nearly 45 years of dedication to the automotive aftermarket, starting with his first job at a local parts store when he was a college student, Roger McCollum has distinguished himself as one of the industry’s top leaders and most committed advocates. Since joining N.A. Williams in 1984, McCollum was elected CEO of N.A. Williams Company in 2007 and Chairman of the Board in 2014, and currently serves in both positions.  

McCollum has a long and varied history of volunteer industry service, including positions on the Auto Care Association Board of Directors and Government Affairs Committee. Currently, McCollum serves as Chairman of the Auto Care Association Audit Committee; Vice Chairman of its Political Action Committee (ACPAC) and is a member of the Auto Care Association Nominating Committee.  Importantly, McCollum has encouraged and supported the volunteer activities of many N.A. Williams personnel over the years.

McCollum also serves on the Automotive Aftermarket Association Southeast (AAAS) Board of Directors and the AAAS Employee Benefit Fund Board of Trustees.  In addition, McCollum serves on the Board of Trustees of the University of the Aftermarket Foundation and its Executive and Contribution Committees and chairs the Foundation’s Grant Review Committee.

“For decades, Roger has proven to be a dedicated and universally respected industry leader,” said Bill Hanvey, president and CEO, Auto Care Association and 2020 award recipient. “I have had the privilege of working with Roger for many years and can say without reservation that his commitment to the aftermarket is second to none and absolutely deserving of being recognized with the AWDA’s Outstanding Leadership Award.”

Lifetime Achievement Award

Recipient: Richard Beirne, MAAP, vice president, corporate development, Automotive Parts Headquarters

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.

With more than 50 years of service to the aftermarket, Richard Beirne has been an active and well-respected industry advocate, applying his leadership skills to some of the industry’s most impactful decisions of the 21st century. Beirne started his career in 1968 as a delivery driver for United Auto Supply (UAS). After working in every aspect of the business, he was named president and CEO in 1989. Beirne continued in that role until UAS was acquired by APH in 2015.

Beirne’s leadership and integrity have been recognized often.  Among his many awards, he received the 2004 Art Fisher Memorial Scholarship Award from AWDA for his support of training and education and in 2007, Federated Auto Parts presented him with their Art Fisher Memorial Membership Award. In 2011, Beirne earned AWDA’s Pursuit of Excellence Award. Beirne received his MAAP from the University of the Aftermarket in 2016 and along with his wife, Lisa, became Lifetime Trustees of the University of the Aftermarket Foundation in 2019.

“Dick Beirne was the first chairman I worked with after being named liaison to AWDA in 2004,” said Larry Northup, executive director, AWDA. “He set the stage for the durable and interdependent relationship that exists today between AWDA and the Auto Care Association. Throughout all those many years, Dick has remained one of my most valued advisors, an incredibly wise and thoughtful man that everyone should listen to and seek to emulate. He truly is a ‘backbone’ of the aftermarket industry.”

Art Fisher Award for Excellence in Education

Recipient: John Passante, president and CEO, The Organizational Development Group

AWDA’s Art Fisher Award for Excellence in Education 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.

As president and CEO of The Organizational Development Group, John Passante has become a familiar face to countless aftermarket industry personnel for over 35 years by providing guidance in human resources, sales & marketing and organizational development.  He also serves as an adjunct professor at Northwood University and as a guest lecturer at various other universities and industry organizations.  

“Over his decades teaching for the University of the Aftermarket, John has literally impacted thousands of aftermarket lives – mine included,” said Brian Cruickshank, Director, University of the Aftermarket.  “John’s teaching style is unique and drives home his message that compassion and open communication are the keys to a successful business.”

“John, who is an Automotive Aftermarket Hall of Famer, has been an influential leader in our industry for many years providing guidance through education from a plethora of platforms,” said Mike Allen, vice president, Federated Auto Parts Distributors, Inc. His contributions have touched many and I cannot think of a better recipient of the prestigious Art Fisher Award.”

To learn more about the AWDA Industry Awards and to view previous winners, visit autocare.org/awda.


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