We recently had the opportunity to talk to NAPA President Dan Askey about the incredibly successful fund-raising campaigns NAPA has orchestrated for the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund (IFHF) since 2012. In that time, NAPA has raised more than $11.5 million for the organization, which serves U.S. military personnel suffering the effects of traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress. During our interview, we also took the time to ask Dan about his 40-year career with NAPA.
Q: You’ve been the president of NAPA since 2011. What has been the most rewarding part of this experience?
A: The most rewarding thing in my position has been to see the changes in the aftermarket with respect to how technology is changing what we do—from looking up parts to selling parts to installing parts on vehicles. There’s never been a time in the industry where it was changing as quickly as it is now. What makes me feel really good is our ability to stay ahead in this industry. NAPA has always been a leader, and we want to continue to stay in front.
Q: You’ve spent your entire career with NAPA. What was it that kept you committed all these years?
A: The ability to work with independent store owners and their customers and our suppliers, as well as the camaraderie that comes with everyone who wears a NAPA logo on their shirt, whether they’re a delivery driver, parts counterperson, shop owner. If you meet someone with a NAPA logo on their chest, you can immediately have a good conversation.
Also, one thing I love about NAPA people is their dedication to good customer service. Whether it’s a store or a shop, the common thread is there with a strong desire to service the customer better than anyone else so that customer keeps coming back.
Q: What has been the most significant change to the automotive aftermarket during your career?
A: The technology has been the biggest change. It’s been gradual, too. When I first started, we were handwriting invoices at the counter. Then we got the first computer and watched the invoices print out. It evolved to the customer ordering via modem. Now, everything is wifi, and everything is “right now.” Technology has made the customer expectation a lot higher because they expect to have everything right now.
Q: Tell us about the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund and how NAPA first got involved with the organization.
A: It started in 2012. We were looking for a cause that we could really promote. It started out with a “Get Back and Give Back” promotion with NAPA batteries and our rotating electrical. It was very simple.
We found out about the fund through a vendor. We didn’t know much initially. We studied them. We interviewed them. The thing that we kept coming back to was that 100 percent of the dollars [donated] go to the fund. The trustees pay the overhead. In today’s world of charity, that is very, very unusual. If you can get to 90 percent, that’s a really good charity. And then to find out that they were going to raise the money to build the Intrepid Spirit Centers to bring brain trauma experts closer to our soldiers at bases around the United States. It really, really made sense.
Plus, there’s something about the military that resonates with our customers, our employees, our store owners. They’re just really proud to be American, and they’re really proud that we fought for our freedom.
Q: When you started the “Get Back and Give Back” campaign, did you ever expect it to raise as much money as it has for IFHF?
A: Not at all. That’s been the biggest thrill for me. We thought it was a one-year deal. Let’s try it. We’ll feel good about donating money to a great cause. It was never in the plan that this was something big. Every year, we’ve raised more money, and it has just been incredible.
Q: What do you think NAPA store owners and NAPA AutoCare Centers should tell their teams and their customers? What’s most important for people to know about the IFHF campaign?
A: These kinds of things take activation in the field. Every time we’re together as a NAPA family with our NAPA stores, everybody has a really good feeling about what we’re doing. They’re prideful about what we’re doing. Then we get back to work and get caught up in the day to day, and we don’t activate. What I would say to those in the field is: How do we make July’s Military Month the absolute biggest Intrepid Hero event that we’ve ever done?
That starts with letting everybody know what we’re doing and why it’s important. In July, our retail promotion flyers are going to have promotions for almost every single item. Some as small as 10 cents; some several dollars. We’re also offering a 10 percent Military Discount at participating stores for walk-in customers. At the shop level, whether you’re an AutoCare Center or not, there are lots of special deals in our Real Deals and Tools & Equipment flyers.
Wear the shirts. Wear the hats. Let everyone know we’re raising money for the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund.
Q: What makes this cause so important?
A: IFHF has built eight Intrepid Spirit Centers, and two more are planned. More than 300,000 soldiers get injured every year. A traumatic brain injury completely changes the life of our heroes. They have their own issues, and then those turn into issues at home with their spouse and their children. They’re mostly men, and they don’t seek help. So by bringing awareness to traumatic brain injuries and showing these folks there’s a place they can get help and still stay Active Duty is really, really rewarding. The more money we can raise, the sooner we can build the next two centers.
Q: With respect to your career and the IFHF, is there a closing message you’d like to share?
A: We certainly thank everyone for their support of NAPA and their support of the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund.