Northwood University’s Leadership 2.0: A deep dive into advanced leadership, insights from participants at the forefront of the aftermarket

The Sloan Building for Aftermarket Studies at Northwood University.

This week, Northwood University’s Midland, Mich., campus was alive with the enthusiasm of the Leadership 2.0 class. The University of the Aftermarket offered exclusive insight into this transformative journey, as conveyed by its participants.

Leadership Development 2.0 is tailored for mid to senior-level managers seeking to refine and elevate their leadership capabilities. As a graduate of the program, I can say, it was hugely informative and I made friends in the aftermarket I keep in touch with to this day.

Here are essays from three participants.

Sam Russo

Leading with Vision: Insights from Mike Mohler’s Keynote at Leadership 2.0

The mood was set for an inspiring evening as the inaugural session of Leadership 2.0 2023 commenced with a powerful keynote by Mike Mohler, the EVP and Chief Purchasing Officer of the Automotive Parts Services Group. A visionary leader and a driving force in the automotive industry, Mohler’s address resonated with attendees, unveiling invaluable insights into change, innovation, and the evolving landscape of success. Below, we delve into the highlights and takeaways that captivated the audience.

  1. The Inheritance of Opportunity through Change:
    Change, as Mohler eloquently put it, isn’t a coincidence—it’s an inheritance of opportunity waiting to be seized. In this dynamic world, proactive individuals who work diligently are the ones who can truly harness the power of change.
  2. Optimism and Pessimism: A Symbiotic Relationship:
    Mohler’s narrative drew upon George Bernard Shaw’s wisdom, revealing the symbiotic relationship between optimism and pessimism. It’s the optimists who build the airplanes, while the pessimists provide the necessary grounding. This dynamic interplay keeps aspirations rooted in reality.
  3. Striving for the Stars While Staying Grounded:
    The timeless wisdom of keeping feet on the ground while reaching for the stars resounded in Mohler’s address. This philosophy extends to the responsibilities we have towards friends, ourselves, and the organizations we’re a part of—a balance that guides our journey.
  4. Balancing Legacy and Responsibility:
    The keynote emphasized a profound connection between honoring the past and embracing the future. The reverence for those who paved the way is entwined with the obligation to pave a path for those who will come after us.
  5. Hard Days Breed Champions:
    Champions, according to Mohler, are forged in the crucible of adversity. Be it success, failure, challenge, or opportunity, the lessons learned during the most challenging moments are the ones that define champions.
  6. Metamorphosis of Competition:
    Over the past decade, competition has undergone a metamorphosis—characterized by co-opetition, embracing the unorthodox, and finding a harmonious balance between the two.
  7. Co-opetition: The Power of Collaboration:
    Drawing parallels with drafting in racing, co-opetition brings competitors together to achieve collective acceleration. This strategy taps into the synergy of combining strengths and shared goals for mutual progress.
  8. Embracing the Unorthodox: Dare to be Different:
    The automotive industry’s landscape is reshaped when individuals dare to be unorthodox. The story of Jeff Gordon highlights how unconventional thinking can lead to revolutionary breakthroughs that redefine the limits of achievement.
  9. Pathways to Industry Evolution:
    Transitioning to the Information Age prompts us to rethink conventional approaches to pricing and customer communication.
  10. Information Age Redefining Communication:
    The shift from the Industrial Age to the Information Age calls for innovative communication strategies. While traditional methods retain value, embracing new ways to engage with customers is essential.
  11. The Challenge of Information Overload:
    In a world inundated with information, managing data becomes a core skill. The concept of “info-besity” underscores the need for efficient data processing amidst a sea of knowledge.
  12. Supply Chain Management: An Enhanced Vocabulary:
    Navigating the complexities of supply chain management requires an enriched vocabulary. Adapting to the dynamic landscape demands a profound understanding of delivering precision in timing and placement.
  13. Navigating the 4th Paradigm Shift: Disruption:
    Disruption, often likened to chaos theory’s butterfly effect, is a constant in the industry. Adapting to and managing such change is key to sustained success.

As the curtain rose on Leadership 2.0, Mike Mohler’s opening keynote set the tone for an illuminating journey into leadership, innovation, and adaptation. Mohler’s insights invite leaders to embrace change, collaborate for collective acceleration, and champion unconventional thinking. With these takeaways, attendees embark on a path of leadership empowered to navigate the ever-evolving automotive landscape.

Tammy Tecklenburg

Driving an Inclusive Culture

Last night marked my inaugural visit to the Sloan Family Building of Aftermarket Studies, where the Leadership 2.0 event commenced. With nearly three decades entrenched in the industry, the marvels of this institution – rich in history – truly resonated with me.

I was honored to introduce our friend, industry icon and keynote speaker Mike Mohler. Echoing the sentiments of Maya Angelou, I highlighted Mike’s career journey and key leadership attributes, underscoring the timeless truth: “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will always remember how you made them feel.” For those familiar with Mike, this is his superpower.

In the spotlight, Mike shared his perspectives of “What’s new in the Aftermarket”. He ignited a call to action to champion change, embrace “unconventional thinking” and relentlessly prioritize our people.

As the founder of dott. (an acronym for “diversity of thought”), I reveled in the harmony of our shared outlook on future growth opportunities. In closing, Mike noted that he had planned to use the same Maya Angelou quote that I opened with….”People will always remember how you made them feel.” Synchronicity prevailed.

Today, I was humbled to lead the inaugural session at Northwood on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). Our learners embraced the notion that ““In order to be our best we need to be our collective best. If we have folks stepping into spaces where they can’t be themselves, where they can’t be honest and authentic, everyone loses.”

There are a number of studies that show the significance of “diversity of thought”. It supports engagement, celebrates difference (of perspectives and experience), improves the bottom line, sparks creativity, increases innovation and drives productivity. We win when people can step into workspaces that are psychologically safe.

This tapestry of “diversity of thought,” agility, adaptation, and evolution seamlessly interwove into Dr. Frank Morgan’s invigorating discussion on the “Impact of Organizational Culture on Strategy.” As project teams were announced, a reminder resounded — “Diverse teams make better decisions.”

Dr. Tom Litzinger’s passion for education and excitement around his new role as Executive Director at the University of the Aftermarket is contagious. The warm and welcoming environment that he and James O’Dell created here is inspiring. Our learners are a diverse group from all levels and functions across the Aftermarket. Thank you to the companies that invested to send their team members here this week. They will always remember how you made them feel.

This experience transformed me by unveiling my ‘superpower’ — emotional intelligence.
15 years later, far-reaching ripples of this learning have positively impacted the Women in Auto Care community. The insights sparked this week have the potential to be equally as transformative.

As day #1 draws to a close and we prepare for the YANG meet-up (sponsored by The GROUP), I’m confident that the future of our industry is bright…and inclusive.
During my session on “Relationships that Drive Results: Navigating Professional
Networking” I recounted an episode when I was selected for Honeywell’s leadership
development program, an opportunity extended to 1% of their top talent.
I feel a sense of pride in how the learners bonded around shared
values, mutual beliefs, and culture. 2023’s Leadership 2.0 participants are
positioned to channel incremental influences, steering change within their
respective organizations.

Echoing Larry Pavey’s wise words, “We’ve never be this good before, we’ll never be this bad again.”

Ron Dahlhaus
Samuels Inc./Buy Wise Auto Parts

Shaping Tomorrow’s Leaders Today

As we entered our classroom Tuesday morning, we were greeted by Dr. Litzinger, with his usual greeting: “You are Valued, You are Cared For and You are Significant!” We recapped Monday Evening’s YANG Meet- up – a well-attended and worthwhile event.

Ryan Kooiman, Director of Training at Standard Motor Products and a 2014 Leadership 2.0 graduate, briefed us on the $600 million of “Alleged Defective” and fraudulent returns the industry processes annually, with 22.6% of all auto parts sold being returned. As the Aftermarket has the highest return rate of any industry, tomorrow’s leaders were tasked to bring light to this concern, and we offered ideas of long term solutions.

The day then got very individualized and intense as Dr. Frank Morgan reviewed our personal “I-OPT- Leadership Style” assessment. The survey had us pegged correctly! We dissected each leadership style and came to realize that to be a great leader, we need to adapt to work with others effectively to get your message or task completed.

We also tackled the topic of Change and the Innovation of Change, types of change, and reasons that change occurs. We identified several changes in our world which may impact a company, an organization, its customers, or society.

We applied these leadership concepts in a case study where we prepared oral arguments for a business decision and presented our argument as a team in front of the class. Earlier discussions on company culture, poor Leadership Traits, and Change decisions were brought to life and made us understand the importance of everything we learned over the past few days! Our curriculum always goes full circle as world events are tied to Leadership qualities and characteristics. Today was nothing different.
Finally, our 5 teams each picked an industry concern that we would tackle as a group project between now and week 2, outlining the problem or concern, discussing the objectives, and offering a solution to change things for the better. Each group presented to the student and leadership body why the topic was chosen, and why they felt that they could help cure the concern.

The day’s events ended as we started, “You are Valued, You are Cared For, and You are Significant!”

Every topic is well presented, and the points learned are well received. We all had some fun. The class is growing closer and doing things together, as we all talk and grow together like a team. It is great to see and feel part of the team spirit. We all are working to make our teams and businesses back home proud!

For the latest news and information on the global automotive aftermarket industry, visit Do you have news? Contact Aftermarket Intel Editor Mark Phillips at He’s on LinkedIn here.

Is your company exhibiting at an upcoming show? Let us know!

Join your colleagues in the global automotive aftermarket. Get the Aftermarket Intel Briefing, edited by Mark Phillips, AAP.

* indicates required