SMP CEO Receives Prestigious Award

More than 2,400 manufacturers and suppliers flocked to Las Vegas this year for the 2015 AAPEX Show. But before the attention turned to new products and new technologies, the event organizers took a moment to honor an industry legend.

During the Automotive Warehouse Distributors Association (AWDA) Opening General Session, SMP Chairman and CEO Larry Sills was presented with its most prestigious honor, the Jack Creamer Leader of the Year Award. Renamed this year in honor of the late Jack Creamer, the award is presented annually to an aftermarket professional whose industry contributions are as unique as they are significant. Last year’s honoree, Joe Pomaranski, Tenneco’s Vice President and General Manager, North America Aftermarket, presented the award to Larry.

Larry was recognized for his commitment to the future and his closeness with employees. Regarding the latter, Larry makes a yearly voyage to each of SMP’s 20 locations—including those in Europe and Asia—to speak with every employee on every shift, in an effort to stay close to what’s happening at the company and in the industry.

In addition to the prestigious award, Larry received high praise from several industry executives:

  • Bill Maggs, President of the National Pronto Association, described Larry as "an industry icon who’s been in the aftermarket his entire life, supporting his distributors and his many other customers" while adding that Sills is "respected by everyone I know."
  • Mike Lambert, former CEO of the Automotive Distribution Network, said, "Larry literally represents generations within Standard Motor Products and that’s very unique. A lot of family manufacturing businesses have come and gone, but SMP has not only survived, but has grown and prospered under Larry’s leadership."
  • Tim Lee of Lang Auto Parts, commented, "Perhaps the most important thing about Larry Sills is his humanity. He’s a warm, caring, decent guy who has created a warm, caring and decent company that all his employees are delighted to work for. Larry has a social conscience and truly feels an obligation to our industry that is second to none. That would have been Jack Creamer’s kind of a lifestyle and Larry lives it every day."

The award is a fitting cap to a remarkable career that has spanned nearly three decades. Last week, Sills announced that he would retire as SMP’s Chairman and CEO in the spring and become Executive Chairman of the Board of Directors. His son and SMP President, Eric Sills, who joined him at the awards ceremony podium, will replace him as CEO.