NGK and AutoZone honored with AASA’s Channel Excellence Award Presented by Epicor

The companies were recognized at the 2022 AASA Vision Conference for collaborative use of data to develop an oxygen sensor program that grows market share and reduces inventory requirements.

A recent collaboration between NGK and AutoZone was awarded the 2022 Automotive Aftermarket Suppliers Association (AASA) Channel Excellence Award presented by Epicor. The teams shared market research and applied point-of-sale (POS) data and other information to develop an oxygen (O2) sensor program that grows market share, reduces inventory requirements, and lays the foundation for future shifts in market demand. Brian Norko, SVP, Commercial Business Operations, NGK and Rob Bell, Director, Merchandising & Customer Satisfaction, AutoZone, accepted the award on behalf of their respective companies at the 2022 AASA Vision Conference in Dearborn, Mich.

The annual AASA Channel Excellence Award presented by Epicor recognizes innovation and collaboration between suppliers and channel partners that drive aftermarket growth. 

Following the acceptance of this award, Brian Norko, Senior Vice President – Commercial Business Operations, said, “This award is particularly special to NGK as it reflects our core business philosophy of creating mutual success.  Our company was founded on this principle and working together with our customers, delivering quality products, and growing our businesses together – this continues to drive us! We are very proud to have been part of growing AutoZone’s O2 Sensor business.” 

Following the acceptance of this award, Rob Bell, Director, Merchandising & Customer Satisfaction for AutoZone, said, “We are extremely excited to achieve this Channel Excellence Award with NGK and sincerely thank AASA and Epicor for this tremendous honor.  This great recognition would not have been possible without the collective effort of NGK and our amazing AutoZoners across the entire organization. Our phenomenal results show the power of data and the importance of customer feedback when leveraged in a collaborative environment.” 

NGK and AutoZone identified a sustained increase in demand among do-it-for-me (DIFM) customers for original equipment manufacturer O2 sensor technologies. The companies then utilized POS and other data to build OEM-based O2 sensor families by vehicle application to address this trend. The new approach resulted in a 100% sales increase of NGK’s NTK brand 02 sensors through AutoZone while eliminating more than 290,000 stocking placements across the AutoZone network. In addition, AutoZone achieved a more than 700 bps shift in DIFM market share in the wideband O2 sensor category.     

The winning project is featured in a video on the AASA website. 

The NGK/AutoZone project was one of three joint initiatives by automotive aftermarket companies selected as award finalists. The other finalists were Bosch/NAPA and Dorman with multiple channel partners. Short videos submitted by each of the AASA Channel Excellence award finalist teams were played at the 2022 AASA Vision Conference and are also posted on the AASA website

“This award recognizes the achievements in collaboration and innovation between suppliers and their channel partners to drive growth together,” said Paul McCarthy, AASA President. “We give this award to encourage an openness to the behaviors we all know we need to see — innovation and collaboration across the value chain. We congratulate NGK and AutoZone for embodying these behaviors and finding a way, together, to greater success in a challenging climate.” 

“These projects demonstrate the value of collaboration in solving the challenges of a highly complex value chain,” said Tim Hardin, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Automotive, Epicor. “Ultimately, each success builds toward a future where data-driven collaboration isn’t just project based, but a daily part of doing business and optimizing our industry’s contributions to the global economy.” 

Additional information about the 2022 AASA Vision Conference can be accessed by visiting

About AASA
AASA ( exclusively serves manufacturers of aftermarket components, tools and equipment, and related products, an important part of the automotive parts manufacturing industry which supports 871,000 American jobs. AASA is a recognized industry change agent – promoting a collaborative industry environment, providing a forum to address issues, and serving as a valued resource for members. AASA is the light vehicle aftermarket division of the Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association (MEMA). “AASA, The Voice for the Automotive Aftermarket Supplier Industry” 

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