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5 Minutes with AWDA’s Ted Hughes


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Every so often, our editorial staff selects one aftermarket industry professional to get to know a little better. Participants are asked to respond to a series of questions that can be answered in about the same amount of time you might spend chatting at the office coffee pot or waiting for an elevator. In this installment of “5 Minutes With,” we get to know a little more about longtime aftermarket professional Ted Hughes. In October 2022, the Auto Care Association named Hughes as its new senior director of community engagement and AWDA executive director. 

Q: Tell us about your new role and what you like best about it.

A: I have a passion for our industry that was planted nearly 25 years ago and has been cultivated by the people and companies I have worked with during my time in it. So, the thing I like most about my new position is the ability to interact with so many of the people and the companies that made our industry what it is today. The automotive aftermarket was built on the foundation established by traditional parts distribution and having spent my entire career up to this point on the manufacturing side, I had the opportunity to work with them and understand the nuances of this business. As Executive Director of AWDA, getting the chance to work with true legends of our industry day in and day out is something I am very excited about.

Q: What career would you pursue if you didn’t do what you do now?

A: Since this is the only thing I have ever known, it is difficult to think of what else is out there. Aside from the aftermarket, sports are such a huge part of my life, so I would like to think that it would be something in sports. I am not naïve enough to say that I would be the general manager of the Detroit Lions (although I think ANYONE could have done that job the last 60 years and done better), so I will stay away from that. I am not a person that wants or needs the spotlight on me – I prefer to work hard behind the scenes to help the people who deserve it be the successful ones with the light shining on them. Therefore, my career would be a caddie on the PGA Tour. The ability to work alongside the best players at their craft, people who know the meaning of hard work, plus enjoying the camaraderie of working alongside other people who share the same values as me would be a dream come true. In fact, that sounds an awful lot like the opportunity I have within our industry.

Q: What advice would you give your 20-year-old self just starting out?

A: HAVE PATIENCE!!!! The old saying says ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day,’ and that is true of anything worth having – even a career in this great industry. When starting out, keep your head down, work hard, take it all in. Take the opportunity to learn every day, whether it is from people showing you how to do things right, or those who are showing you how not to do things. Every experience should be a learning experience and whether you are 20 or 47, you must keep learning from all of your experiences.

Q: Do you make New Year’s Resolutions or set annual goals for yourself? If yes, what’s your process and what goals do you have for 2023?

A: Professionally I think we all have to have goals – most of us are familiar with the S.M.A.R.T. system and utilizing that to create a roadmap to navigate the upcoming year – so yes, I do have those. However, from the personal side, I try not to restrict myself to specifics and become so focused and targeted that I miss out on opportunities to enjoy life. Simply put, I want to make it through another year, and I want to try and make the world a little bit better place as I navigate through 2023.

Q: Do you have a favorite podcast or YouTube channel? Please share!

A: I mentioned that sports have always been a big part of my life, that started when I first began playing hockey at age two. Growing up in Detroit, or Hockeytown as it became known throughout the 90s and early 00s, that love of hockey has never left me and I still get the chance to get out and skate as often as possible. The emergence of podcasts as a content medium has enabled us hockey fans to see the sport from a different perspective and nobody does it better than Spittin’ Chiclets. The flavor the hosts bring to our sport, within a context that hasn’t been done before, is so refreshing I look forward to every episode.

Q: Skill Check: Think fast – does your car have a cabin air filter and do you know where it is located? 

A: NO BRAINER!!! I drive a 2020 Ford F-150 and the cabin air filter is located directly behind the glove compartment in front of the passenger seat. Working for MAHLE for so many years, I know the importance of cabin air filtration and have installed multiple premium cabin air filters myself.

Q: Name a favorite trip you’ve made or one place on your “bucket list” you’d like to see?

A: I have been blessed to attend The Masters Tournament a couple of different times in Augusta, Georgia. I believe there is no place on God’s Earth as beautiful as Augusta National Golf Club. No matter how many times one can visit, it can’t possibly ever get old – and to possibly one day have the ability to PLAY Augusta National would be beyond ‘Bucket List,’ but would be a real dream come true.

Q: What one word would your co-workers use to describe you?

A: Committed (at least I hope).

If you know someone who would make a great candidate for “5 Minutes With” email AMN Editor Amy Antenora.

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