Richard Beirne is the 2021 Mort Schwartz Excellence in Education Award recipient

Awards were announced during the association’s Fall Leadership Days event in San Antonio, Texas, and included the Mort Schwartz Excellence in Education award, the Auto Care Career and Education (ACE) award, the Impact Award: Four for the Future, and the Women in Auto Care community’s Women of the Year awards.

By Camille Sheehan, of the Auto Care Association

The Auto Care Association announced the recipients of its 2021 awards recognizing excellence in education, innovation and the next generation in the auto care industry. The awards were announced during the association’s Fall Leadership Days event in San Antonio, Texas, and included the Mort Schwartz Excellence in Education award, the Auto Care Career and Education (ACE) award, the Impact Award: Four for the Future, and the Women in Auto Care community’s Women of the Year awards.

The Mort Schwartz Excellence in Education Award is annually given to an individual who demonstrates a passion for advancing the concepts and programs for education and continuing education in the North American auto care industry.

2021 mort schwartz richard beirne
Richard Beirne, MAAP
Richard Beirne is vice president of corporate development at Automotive Parts Headquarters (APH) in St. Cloud, Minn., and serves on the AWDA executive committee as treasurer emeritus. 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. He joined the AWDA board of governors in 1996 and served as chairman in 2004. He continued to serve the AWDA as treasurer and eventually treasurer emeritus. In 2004, Beirne received the Art Fisher award from AWDA and in 2007, the Art Fisher Memorial Membership Award from Federated Auto Parts. In 2011, he was presented with the AWDA 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.

The ACE (Auto Care Career and Education) Award

The ACE (Auto Care Career and Education) Award recognizes auto care companies dedicated to excellence in education. The ACE Award recognizes auto care companies dedicated to education, including investing in the growth of knowledge and skills within their organization and/or throughout the industry. The 2021 ACE award winners are:

Small company: Dynamic Automotive – Frederick, Md.
Dynamic Automotive believes in a culture of learning, development, and team spirit. The company has created both apprenticeship and career path programs to recruit, retain and grow team members. Its Youth Apprenticeship Program for junior and senior high school students can best be summed up in the tagline “earn while you learn.” The program provides students class credit for work-based learning that goes towards their graduation. Its Registered Apprenticeship Program, the next step, is a three-year program with a clearly laid out plan for apprentices with which colleges classes they will take, hours they will work and a compensation plan. In both programs, apprentices are also teamed up with a mentor for hands-on experience. In addition to its apprenticeship programs, Dynamic Automotive invests in a variety of education and training opportunities for all team members as well as works with them on a career path and goal mapping process. Looking to the future, Dynamic Automotive is in the process of creating a leadership training program with the help of Maryland’s Frederick Community College to train future leaders of their company as well as working to share their experience with the industry, including helping to create a national model for recruitment and retention.

Mid-size company: Christian Brothers Automotive – Houston, Texas
Christian Brothers Automotive believes in a 360-degree approach to training and professional development. Their most important goal is to make people better both personally and professionally. Christian Brothers Automotive’s Home Office provides extensive training and resources for store owners and team members, including training programs for owners prior to opening a shop as well as robust ongoing training. The company also holds two annual conventions focusing on learning and fellowship as well as a technician-focused conference for shop team members that covers update in technology and diagnostics as well as features keynotes from leaders across the industry. In recognition of the changing needs over the last two years, the Christian Brothers Home Office has also been able to pivot all their programs into a virtual capacity, from which they saw a tangible and meaningful impact.

Large company: Auto-Wares Group of Companies – Grand Rapids, Mich.
Throughout a nearly five-decade history of expansion and auto parts success, Auto-Wares Group of Companies has consistently relied on employee training and education to power its growth. A career path program with clear steps for employee advancement has enabled Auto-Wares team members to advance steadily and understand steps needed to grow in their careers. Training and education include both internal and external opportunities, such as weekly live webinars, weekly on-demand video training, tech clinics and vendor training. Auto-Wares also utilizes mentors to help employees improve and advance. Moreover, Auto-Wares hosts a large training event each year called the Auto-Wares Tech Expo. This event brings together technicians, parts store owners and other automotive aftermarket professionals for education and networking. In 2021 the company pivoted to a virtual event, enabling even more industry professionals to engage in the training sessions as well as made the content available on-demand post-event to maximize the training and educational efforts.

2021 impact award: four for the future

The Impact Award: Four for the Future, honors four auto care industry professionals, age 40 or younger, who have demonstrated extraordinary leadership or have made remarkable strides within the auto care industry. The 2021 winners are:

Joe Thomas, Sensata Technologies
Joe Thomas is passionate about the automotive aftermarket and strives to help everyone sell more parts by leveraging technology. Thomas continues to work with the Auto Care technology group on projects and workgroups to help move industry data standards forward. Through his involvement in the ACPN and YANG communities, he has built a network of likeminded individuals to tackle the challenges of the ever-evolving product data ecosystems. Thomas launched a project to better communicate Emissions Compliance in the industry standards to prevent non-compliant parts from being sold in restricted areas. He regularly speaks at the ACPN Knowledge Exchange Conference to help educate and mentor community members on cataloging challenges and best practices for the changing content landscape. 

Eric Lough, FCP Euro
Eric Lough is the current ACPN chair, a member of the Auto Care Association’s Technology Standards committee and Technology Roadmap workgroup. Lough previously served as the vice chair of Market Intelligence committee. Lough is a regular contributor in nearly all things automotive: from attending to presenting, he finds a way to get involved in nearly every opportunity. As an avid connector of dots, Lough is always helping people connect who might not have done so without his wide industry network. 

Collin Francis, Dorman Products
Collin Francis has risen through the ranks starting at entry level at Spectra Premium and was instrumental in its growth to become a major player in the North American automotive aftermarket. From Spectra, Francis moved to Dorman Products and his current role as division vice president of sales. Francis has been involved in many Auto Care Association and aftermarket industry committees and is one of the youngest members of the Automotive Sales Council.

Jessica Toliuszis, Highline Warren
Jessica Toliuszis has been a game changer in the automotive aftermarket industry for the past decade through her role with N.A. Williams, representing AutoZone, a $13 billion Fortune 300 retailer. Toliuszis manages sales and leads cross functional teams across agency, retailer and vendor communities. Toliuszis leads with ownership of strategy for multi-million and billion-dollar organizations across North America, Brazil, China, Mexico, Taiwan and other emerging markets. Toliuszis is dedicated to philanthropy within the city of Memphis and throughout the industry and has been recognized with various awards and nominations. Sharing her time, talent and treasures is something that she has done to elevate the Women in Auto Care community.

2021 Women of the Year awards

The Auto Care Association’s Women in Auto Care community annually honors deserving women throughout the industry with three Women of the Year awards. 

Woman of the Year: Jilynna Greene, AutoZone, Inc.
Jil Greene is vice president, field HR operations (store operations, commercial, supply chain, loss prevention, maintenance and set up, global talent acquisition) at AutoZone. She has a passion for mentoring and is committed to community service and servant leadership both professionally and personally. She has co-authored books, spoken at conferences, served on a variety of community boards and is actively involved with various AutoZone professional development programs including AZ WINspiration, Mentorish, Bookish, and International Women’s Week.

Woman of Excellence: Anne Coffin, Aftermarket Auto Parts Alliance, Inc.
Anne Coffin is the director of information technology at the Aftermarket Auto Parts Alliance. Anne has been actively involved with Women in Auto Care for more than 15 years and has served the community in a variety of roles including as a mentor and champion on the scholarship committee. She has received numerous industry certifications and recognitions over the year and was part of the 2020 inaugural class of the Aftermarket News Women at the Wheel.

Female Shop Owner of the Year: Tara Topel, Topel’s Service Center, Inc.
Tara Topel is the owner of Topel’s Service Center, a general mechanical repair and maintenance shop that was started in 1948 and currently employs 14 team members. Topel believes strongly in providing education and training both her to employees as well as her customers so that they feel comfortable making decisions about their vehicles. She is actively engaged with various communities and committees including Shop-Ware Shop Owner Advisory Council, Bumper to Bumper Service Center Network Group, Women in Auto Care and Rotary.

To learn more about the Auto Care Association’s annual scholarships, awards and other industry recognition opportunities currently open, visit

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