The Global Automotive Aftermarket Symposium (GAAS) was the dream of its founders to bring together the leaders of the industry for a world-class educational and networking event. The first event was held in the Chicago area at the Hyatt Regency in Deerfield, Ill. and was billed as "an in-depth forecast through 2001."

It included an impressive list of industry leaders, such as: Paul Baffico, Marc Graham, Derek Kaufman, Larry McCurdy, David O'Reilly, Larry Pavey, O. Temple Sloan, and John Washbish. Plus, several outside perspectives were presented by Dr. John Stoessinger, distinguished professor of international affairs from Trinity College and distribution expert D. Bruce Merrifield Jr.

The brochure for the first event stated: "As the end of the 20th century nears, smart marketers are planning for the 21st century. Opportunities are burgeoning for the automotive aftermarket industry. The Global Automotive Aftermarket Symposium is the first-ever, industry-generated, industry-sponsored conference that brings together the movers, shakers, and decision-makers who are at the forefront, leading the way."

In planning the agenda, the following goals were established to guide the steering committee in selecting speakers to address the event.

  • To design a program where leaders in the automotive aftermarket industry could come together in one place, at one time and hear top industry figures present their points of view about the trends taking place today--and down the road in the next five years.

  • To invite speakers from outside the industry to tell of similar trends in the overall marketplace.

  • To invite someone who had a global point of view that could gaze into a crystal ball and tell of the worldwide trends over the next eight years


GAAS is now held in the spring, primarily in Chicago. However, the event has been held three times in the Detroit area (Dearborn) in 2000, 2003 and 2006.

Each year the industry looks forward to GAAS's two-day program that brings together nearly 500 aftermarket professionals to examine the issues and trends affecting the automotive aftermarket industry and influencing its future.