The new executive director of the Alliance of Auto Service Providers of Minnesota (AASP-MN) is new to the field of automotive repair, but no stranger to what she calls “the mechanics of the job,” thanks to her key roles at an international trade association.
“I think that was one of the things that appealed to the selection committee was that the automotive industry isn’t something that I have deep knowledge of, and I can look at with fresh eyes,” Linden Wicklund said on Monday, her first day in her new role with the 800-member organization.
“The work of the Alliance gets down to my core interests, sort of who I am and what makes me tick as a person,” Wicklund said. “My passion in life is always about making things and fixing things, what we design, what we create, and what we take care of physically around us. It helps us do all the incredible things that we do as a society, [and] as individuals.”
The Alliance’s members fall into one of three divisions, each with an advisory council to make sure the unique positions and needs of each membership group are met. These are the Collision, Mechanical, and Associate Divisions.
Wicklund said she intends to begin her work by studying “what trends are occurring [in the industry] and what opportunities we can open up. How does the broader industry match up to our current membership? And how do we make sure that we’re bringing new folks and new companies and supporting all of the existing members with whatever their changing needs are?
“So often the core elements stay completely the same, because they’re so well grounded,” she said. “But the way you deliver whatever is needed and meet those needs changes over time. So I’m curious to see what shops are projecting in terms of what they think the next 5-10 years are going to look like for them and what that means for the benefits that we provide, and how we help them navigate their own business changes.”
Advocacy on a national level
Wicklund sees useful parallels between her new role with AASP-MN and her previous work for the Industrial Fabrics Association International, a member-owned, member-driven trade association based in Roseville, Minn., that represents the global industrial fabrics industry.
“I was on the senior leadership team, and I was also running conferences and events, and member programs, legislative work all over the country,” she said. Her advocacy work took her to the White House and the halls of Congress, and to meetings with textile industry members all across the country.
“All of those members were making industrial textile products. And that could be fabric within a roadway or in a landfill. It could be uniforms for firefighters. could be all sorts of incredible things you don’t even think of as fabric, like an artery implant.” She said she loved working with small business owners and managers to help provide them with the critical information they needed to run their businesses.
Beyond that support and advocacy, she found value in building community. “Oftentimes [members are] looking for a sense of knowing who else is out there within the community of businesses like themselves, so that they have a network of people who can help them learn and grow and evolve over time.”
Though the work was rewarding, “I also have three little children,” she said. “My youngest is a year and a half old, and it felt like time to stop traveling all the time.”
In late summer, she learned of AASP-MN’s need for a new executive director. She was interviewed as part of an extensive search process led by a six-member search committee of current and former board members. After a search firm was hired and a series of interviews and assessments were conducted, Wicklund was identified as “a standout among the candidates,”AASP-MN said in announcing her selection.
‘A fresh and unique perspective’
“I am very excited for the Alliance to start its next chapter under the leadership of Linden,” AASP-MN president Tom Archambault (BLVD Autoworks) said in a statement. “Her past leadership experience and enthusiasm for this new role will offer members a fresh and unique perspective as we continue to face the challenges of an ever-changing industry head-on.”
Wicklund, who moved to the state 10 years ago, said she is looking forward to broadening her knowledge of Minnesota beyond the Minneapolis-Saint Paul area.
“I’m looking forward to getting to know the folks within Minnesota,” she said. I admittedly am not from Minnesota. I am originally from Rhode Island. So one of the first things I did was purchase a map of Minnesota to put on my office wall to make sure I know where everything is.
“Minnesota is new and fun territory,” she said.
She encouraged people to reach out to her, either by emailing email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling the organization’s offices at 612-623-1110.
Wicklund has a master’s degree in arts and cultural management, centered on nonprofit management with a strong membership focus, from St Mary’s University in Minnesota, and an undergraduate degree in ceramic art from the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University.
She succeeds Judell Anderson, who retired after leading AASP-MN for nearly 26 years. An open house is scheduled at AASP-MN for Dec. 16 to celebrate Anderson’s important contributions to the association and the industry.
“We are forever grateful for her leadership of the Alliance and wish her all the best in retirement,” Archambault, the organization’s president, said.
The Alliance of Automotive Service Providers of Minnesota website
Featured image: Linden Wicklund, the new executive director of the Alliance of Automotive Service Providers of Minnesota. (Provided by Linden Wicklund)