HISTORY

More than 25 Years . . . with a Vision for the Future

The birth of The Outdoor Power Equipment Aftermarket Association (OPEAA) lay in both frustration and vision. The frustration was experienced by those emerging companies who,
during the early and mid-eighties, were discovering the opportunities in the outdoor power
equipment aftermarket business but were constantly being buffeted by allegations of poor quality parts and aggressive actions by some of the industry’s original equipment manufacturers who perceived loss of market share in replacement parts.

The vision was born of the necessity to counter these opposing forces and to build an industry known for selling high quality parts in an open and competitive market. Beginning in 1985, with
small informal meetings of a few concerned businessmen and businesswomen, OPEAA began to emerge as an Organization whose combined strength could have a major impact on the future direction of the industry. By September of that year, a Steering Committee of nine (9) aftermarket companies volunteered to guide the Organization to reality. Concurrent with that September meeting, professional association management had been retained to assist the Steering Committee in developing bylaws, preparing articles of incorporation, creating a budget for the first year of operation and organizing a chartering meeting of all segments of the Outdoor Power Equipment Aftermarket Industry.

A TIMELINE OF ASSOCIATION EVENTS . . .

February 1986

Florida hosted 43 aftermarket companies whose principals attended the chartering meeting. After two days of discussions between competitors – many of whom did not know each other or only knew their competitors by reputation – 32 companies agreed to the purposes, objectives, dues schedule and bylaws of OPEAA.

1986 – 1989

The Association’s membership grew slowly, gaining in some years and declining in others, as the elected leadership struggled with trying to define the organization – who should be members; what programs should be instituted; and what services were appropriate to provide to the ever-changing membership. During annual meetings of the Association, networking – now a hallmark of this annual event – was slow in developing as competitors needed time and contact to become comfortable with each other. In the Association’s fifth year, the Board of Directors decided to change the direction of the Organization from one of protecting market share, to one of expanding market share for aftermarket parts. A national marketing plan was developed, relationships with dealer organizations were either established or strengthened, and marketing brochures designed to promote quality aftermarket parts were printed and distributed to the membership.

1989

OPEAA saw the first Mid-Year Management Seminar, held in conjunction with EXPO in Louisville. This educational offering was designed to expose all members of the outdoor power equipment aftermarket industry to high-powered speakers, addressing a variety of management issues affecting day-to-day business in the aftermarket industry. At this event, networking became an integral benefit of attendance, since this Mid-Year Meeting is the only time during EXPO that the aftermarket industry can gather in one place to discuss issues of mutual interest.

1994

The Board of Directors decided to host an Early Bird Buffet with a major figure as a dinner speaker. Basketball legend Bobby Knight was chosen. The event was successful and led the Organization to Early Bird Buffets in 1995 and 1996. In 1997, the Association returned to its basic tenet of hosting an educational seminar during EXPO and continuing the dinner as a place for industry members to network and socialize. In 2000, the Association changed the evening event to a “Night at the Races” with dinner and simulated horse races to raise money for the Bill Nelson Scholarship Endowment. In 2002, the event was refined to a silent auction and cocktail party with members and guests bidding on gifts donated by the membership. In all of these events, the importance of networking was maintained.

2000

The Bill Nelson Scholarship Endowment (BNSE) was established to honor the memory of Bill Nelson and all he did to help create and advance our industry. Bill’s role in helping to start and support OPEAA was one of many steps in the formation of today’s aftermarket industry. In addition to honoring Bill Nelson, each year the endowment gives academically qualified students, who are a part of or related to our industry, scholarships for college. OPEAA is proud to support the youth and give back to the community through this organization. To see past recipients of BNSE scholarships, click here.

2001

The first professionally developed strategic plan for the Association was established. This plan had some admirable goals to progress OPEAA within our industry. It emerged with new ideas and a clear direction of how to accomplish our goals. Every year the Vice-President reviews the strategic plan to update it and make sure OPEAA is on the right track in meeting the needs of our industry.

June 2006

On June 15, 2006, OPEAA lost it’s Executive Vice President of 20 years, Bill Bergman. Bill’s vision and leadership were instrumental in achieving the goals of the association, and the success and value of membership that we enjoy today. Senior Advisory Council members share their memories of Bill in “Remembering Bill Bergman”. On July 25, 2006, the OPEAA Board affirmed the appointment of Deborah Beck, Bill’s partner in business and life, as it’s new Executive Vice President.

Fall 2006

OPEAA sponsored our immediate past president, Jack Woodruff from BECO/Battery & Electric Co., Inc. to walk the Annual Marine Corp Marathon 10K with the NOVA Foundation team. In 2007, OPEAA sponsored Tom Chaney from K-C Sales Co LLC to run the full Marine Corps Marathon, again with the NOVA Foundation. These sponsorships were made in remembrance of OPEAA’s late Executive Vice President, Bill Bergman. Bill’s management company, William S. Bergman Associates, also managed the NOVA Foundation. OPEAA’s sponsorship and the fundraising of the athletes went directly to the William S. Bergman Memorial Research Grant for the study of infectious disease.

2009

At the EXPO,OPEAA hosted their first welcome reception where we focused on prospective members. This reception was a huge success. It preceded our booth at the EXPO where we had increased traffic. This allowed OPEAA to inform members and the general public of our programs and impact on the industry.

November 2009

On November 20, 2009,OPEAA again lost its Executive Vice President with the unexpected death of Deborah Beck. As Deborah stepped in to fill Bill’s shoes back in 2006, she was instrumental in providing continuity and direction for OPEAA.

March 2010

The Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI) assumed management of the Association. While still maintaining separate identities, the OPEAA board agreed that, through OPEI, OPEAA would have stronger support and better representation. Regulatory and legislative updates allow the Association to not only be better informed, but also be more proactive in getting our voices heard. With an ever-expanding membership base and carefully focused programs designed to promote the use of aftermarket products for margin enhancement, availability and quality – and backed by nationally accepted standards on warranties, return policies and product liability insurance, OPEAA has truly become the Voice of the Aftermarket Parts and Accessories Industry.