RR 332: Mort Schwartz – Legacy Interview

In the above pictrue from AAPEX 2017, Mort Schwartz on the left along with Carm Capriotto.

If there is one person synonymous with the aftermarket parts industry, that person, clearly, is Mort Schwartz. An engineer by training, receiving two degrees from New York University, Mort Schwartz spent 12 years at Westinghouse Electric Corporation, from 1956 to 1968, rising to the level of Vice President. Schwartz was named president of the distribution group of Maremont Corporation, a manufacturer of muffler and suspension parts, now a part of ArvinMeritor.

Between 1968 and 1999, he served as chairman and CEO of four different automotive aftermarket companies. Mort is a past Board member of parts distributor WORLDPAC, Incorporated. He has served the aftermarket ably for over 40 years. He was chairman of the Automotive Warehouse Distributors Association, the Automotive Parts and Accessories Association, the California Automotive Wholesalers Association, and the California Automotive Task Force. He was instrumental in enacting many changes in the aftermarket industry, particularly in the area of education. He was one of the first aftermarket board members of the National Institute for Automotive Excellence (ASE) and led the way for the aftermarket to embrace certification for both technicians and countermen.

It’s safe to say that if you are even remotely involved in the automotive aftermarket ….. you’ve heard of Mort Schwartz! In 1996, Schwartz founded the Global Automotive Aftermarket Symposium (GAAS), a forum where leaders in the automotive aftermarket industry could come together in one place, at one time, and hear top industry leaders present their points of view about the trends taking place today–and over the next five years. The primary goal of the Symposium, however, was that the net proceeds of the event would be used to fund scholarships for students pursuing careers in the automotive aftermarket. Well over 3,000 students have been beneficiaries of Global Automotive Aftermarket Symposium Scholarships since the program began. GAAS ran for 19 years and was combined with the University of the Aftermarket Foundation and are providing up to 200 – 300 students scholarships per year.

Whenever there is a gathering of aftermarket industry executives, you will most likely find Mort Schwartz as a presenter, panel moderator, or simply as an ambassador and friend. Schwartz received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Northwood University in 2007. In addition,  Northwood University has established the Mort Schwartz Fellowship, a scholarship awarded to a student studying Automotive Aftermarket Management.

Invterview talking points:

  • Decades of change from three to four step distribution to the e-commerce of today.
  • Mort saw the need to bring import parts to the distribution network at his company and asked their domestic supplier to get into import parts.
  • Late 40’s/50’s/60’s. The growth of WD’s, (Warehouse Distributions) Jobber’s, Shops with returning Veterans buying/starting small businesses.
  • Note : Auto’s became the only major item that could be repaired the same day….by 5 PM. This versus TV’s, appliances, phones, etc.
  • That shaped the whole Industry to provide “now” availability of a huge spectrum of parts.
  • 60’s/70’s. Use of computers to do purchasing and Inventory control. – Triad/CCI story.
  • 70’s/80’s. The growth of Program Groups emulating GPC (NAPA)
  • 80’s/90’s. A strategy of owning stores – O’Reilly story. They set the pace for WD’s to own their own stores.
  • 90’s/20’s. The growth of two-steppers – WORLDPAC story.
  • 20’s/present. Use of the Internet to communicate thru the channels while consolidation increases both vertical and horizontal.
  • Manufacturing, distribution and installation consolidation.
  • Access to parts is moving at the speed of life.
  • Consolidation has been good for the consumer.
  • Four major factors that will reshape the aftermarket. CASE.
  • Connected
  • Autonomous
  • Sharing
  • Electric
  • Adapt and change if you want to survive.
  • The power in the industry resides at the service level. A well run dynamic shop owner has his choice on how and who will service him and where he will get his parts.
  • Education is different today and is a requirement for sustainable success.
  • Mort was a founder of the Global Automotive Aftermarket Symposium (GAAS). They have provided over 3,000 scholarships to students who need the help. 2/3 go to students who want to become technicians.
  • Inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame in 2005

Link to University of the Aftermarket Foundation Scholarship Program: automotivescholarships.com


Biographical Information and Accomplishments

Current Business Positions

  • Partner, Schwartz Advisors 2008 -present
  • Trustee, Univ. of the Aftermarket Foundation 1992-present
  • Northwood Automotive Aftermarket Board 2003-present

Past Business Positions

  • Director, WORLDPAC 2005-2013
  • Director, Autovia 1998-2001
  • Director, Java City Coffee 1995-2000
  • Chairman, Thermo King of Northern California 1986-1999
  • Chairman, Strauss Discount Auto 1990-1998, Director 2000-2004
  • Chairman, Import Parts America 1985-1 990
  • Chairman, Chanslor & Lyon 1975-1985
  • President, Distribution Group, Maremont Corp. 1968-1975
  • Vice President, Westinghouse Electric Corp. 1956-1968
  • Director, CarQuest 1976-1985
  • Director, Office Club 1985-1991
  • Director, Illinois Auto Electric 1978-1994
  • Director, Hospital Systems 1991-1994
  • Director, Auto Parts Club 1990-1995

Past Industry Positions

  • Chairman/Founder, Global Automotive Aftermarket Symposium 1996-2005
  • Chairman, Aftermarket Financial Symposium 2005
  • Director, Automotive Hall of Fame 1988-2005
  • Director, Automotive Aftermarket Industries Association (AAIA) 1999-2004
  • Chairman, Aftermarket eForum 2001 -2003
  • Chairman, Automotive Parts and Accessories Association 1996-1998
  • Chairman, California Automotive Wholesalers’ Association 1993-1994
  • Chairman/Founder, California Automotive Task Force 1978- 1983 (CARB)
  • Director, National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence 1976-1982 ASE
  • Trustee, National Automotive Technicians Foundation 1982-1984

Industry Awards

  • Automotive Hall of Fame Induction 2005
  • AWDA Martin Fromm Lifetime Achievement Award 2003
  • ASAAA Honorary Membership 2002
  • Mort Schwartz Fellowship, Northwood University 2000
  • APAA Executive of the Year 1998
  • AWDA University Founders Award 1996
  • Automotive Hall of Fame Distinguished Service Citation 1992
  • CAWA Outstanding Service Award 1987
  • ASC Presidents Award 1982
  • Motor Magazine Warehouse Distributor of the Year Award 1981
  • AWDA Man of the Year Award and MEMA Triangle Award 1980
  • ASC Industry Award 1978
  • Northwood Institute Automotive Education Award 1976
  • AWDA Memorial Scholarship Award 1975

Former Positions

  • Captain, US Army Corps of Engineers
  • Instructor, Rutgers University
  • Degrees: BIE and MIE, New York University
  • Doctor of Laws, Honoris CAUSA, Northwood University 2007


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About the author, Carm Capriotto, AAP

Carm is the founder and host of the Remarkable Results Radio Podcast and the pioneer of automotive aftermarket podcasts. Carm calls on his years of experience in the aftermarket to bring engaging stories from his guests.

Listen to raw, unfiltered, honest, and sincere stories that include insights, trends, best practices, and expertise. Each interview brings an opportunity to learn one new thing through the stories of personal achievement. Many podcast guests tell their story of transformation from working in their business to working on it.

As host of over 1,000 episodes, Carm uses his enthusiasm and passion for the aftermarket especially the service sector to take his listeners on a journey showcasing successful service professionals’ paths to Remarkable Results. He also enjoys interviews with aftermarket industry thought leaders who bring their industry perspectives to his listener.

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