In response to emerging technologies, as well as market trends and world events, automakers need to be agile and quick to transition and AEC is here to help with that constant state of flux.
AEC is a global automotive solutions provider that facilitates the process of getting new vehicles ready and approved for global markets. Because every country has slightly different requirements, “There’s a necessity to work with partners that allow them to get these vehicles to market in time, making sure end customers can get access to their favorite car models everywhere,” says Andrew Pilsworth, AEC’s CEO and founder.
AEC homologates vehicles for different jurisdictions and handles distribution, sales and marketing, and parts and accessories services to carmakers and automotive firms around the world. And while you may not have heard of AEC until now, the firm was recently recognized by Deloitte Canada as one of Canada’s Best Managed Companies in 2022, which honours best-in-class Canadian-owned companies with revenues over $50 million.
Andrew Pilsworth founded AEC in 1996 with a couple hundred dollars of capital. The company now boasts a presence around the world and employs more than 225 automotive experts, serving more than 550 dealers and partners. One of their major partners is Stellantis, one of the biggest OEMs worldwide, with multiple car brands like Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat, Jeep, Maserati and RAM, under their roof. About 50 staff work in Canada, centred in the GTA and the company’s global headquarters in St. Catharines.
Pilsworth started the company because he saw a need to standardize the international car-buying experience. Back in 1996, he says, the global trade for automotive was like a flea market, where it was “buy at your own risk.”
Now, the company is providing an entry point to markets that are otherwise not cost-competitive. The business model has proved successful. The company experienced 46 per cent revenue growth in 2021, in part thanks to its agility and ability to pivot quickly during the pandemic when the auto industry was reeling, Pilsworth recounts.
But much of the success also comes down to his leadership and management style. His passion for values-based leadership shines through in conversation. “If you have an idea and you don’t have money, you only have yourself and what you believe in, then that becomes your leadership style,” he says.
Pilsworth started out as a rowing coach, training athletes such as local Olympic Gold medalist Kristin Kit, and has brought that same leadership style that comes from coaching professional rowing athletes to his team at AEC.
“It seems incredibly simple, but if you understand that at the end of day it’s all about people, and if you treat people with professionalism, with respect, with kindness, and this forms your core, and you build a team around this, you’ll have something pretty incredible.”
Pilsworth is deeply touched by the Best Managed Companies award AEC received earlier this year, “Over the past 26 years, AEC has come a long way. Through industry setbacks and market changes, we stuck to our core values and let those guide us as we endeavor to find better ways for our customers and partners. No matter what’s thrown our way, the AEC team remains authentic and embraces adaptability, growth, kindness, leadership, professionalism, and reliability, and we’ve thrived as a result. I am incredibly proud of my team for their support and dedication, and it’s great to see all our hard work acknowledged with this award.”
Buoyed by the recognition, and backed by decades of global expertise, Pilsworth says AEC is looking to the future. The company is perfectly positioned to support car manufacturers in the switch to electric powertrains because it has expertise, more than 25 years’ experience and global presence. “This is the most significant change in automotive that anyone has ever seen since the horse and buggy. By 2030 or 2035, basically all OEMs have to convert all their vehicles, all the powertrains, to electric,” he says. “The solutions that we provide our partners will allow them to enter new markets with their vehicles faster, more affordably, and compliant while maintaining their desired customer experience.”
Disclaimer This content was funded and approved by the advertiser.