In this episode of AMN Drivetime, Sue Godschalk, president of Federated Auto Parts, shares her journey being included in the founding of one of the nation’s leading program distribution groups – Federated Auto Parts, which was established in the mid-1980s.
Not necessarily a “car gal” per se, Godschalk says she was more intrigued by the business side of the aftermarket industry. That curiosity has served her well in her career. Over the years, she rose through the ranks at Federated, from her start serving as secretary and administrative assistant, to office manager, general manager, then corporate secretary and treasurer, then serving as VP before being named president of the organization in 2020.
“I was more interested in the inventory and operations aspect of the business,” she said. “I always found it challenging to understand which manufacturer sold which parts. I wanted to know what the function was of each of those parts for each vehicle. I basically wanted to learn everything – from how the part was ordered, and how the part traveled until it got to the end-users. That started my interest.”
Having worked with several icons of the industry – Art Fisher, Rusty Bishop and Larry Pavey – Godschalk says she feels thankful to have worked with such great teachers. The experiences she gained working with talented leaders has been invaluable she says.
“I think one of the best lessons I’ve learned is, no matter how much we think we know, there’s always more to learn and there’s always new and better ways to do things. You have to keep growing. You always have to strive for continuous improvement in everything you do,” she says.
“You never have to be afraid to take on new challenges, because that is what keeps you in business. Having the opportunity to work directly with each of these incredible leaders has provided me with things that I don’t think I could have learned from a book or a class,” she said.