Newsletter

Monthly Archives: November 2015

Mentorship Update

Mentorship Update

By Sara Douglas, GenNext HD mentee, and Newsletter Committee Chair

In April I traveled to Des Moines, Iowa, to visit with my mentor, John Minor of Midwest Wheel. The trip was a great opportunity to visit a very successful business in our industry.

John had me meet with several members of his staff from Human Resources to Purchasing to Accounts Payable/Accounts Receivable, and beyond. John and his staff were very open and welcoming to me, allowing me to ask questions and provided me with very useful insight and feedback.

I thought meeting with various members of John’s staff was a great idea as it allowed me to see how each department operates, especially in areas where my knowledge is very limited.

It was a great opportunity to see how others in the industry operate, and a great way to develop new ideas, and also “borrow” ideas from others as well. I see great things ahead with the mentorship program in the future.



Recruitment Update

Recruitment Update

By Nikki Paschall, GenNext HD Recruitment Chair

 

Greetings GenNexters! We’ve had a great summer and beginning of fall and our sights are set on HDAW in January. We’ve been working closely with HDMA to recruit fresh new interns from Northwood University for our week-long HDAW Internship Program.

Last year, we successfully brought 10 students with us and gave them an inside look at the heavy-duty industry. A majority of these students, although Automotive Aftermarket majors, had never considered the heavy-duty industry as a career choice. Upon leaving HDAW, all of them said they were looking at the commercial vehicle aftermarket and four of them have full-time jobs in the industry now!

This year we’re upping the ante by bringing 20 students to HDAW! We can’t wait to see the results of this year’s internship!



Supplier Highlight

Supplier Highlight

Getting to know Triangle Suspension

 

By Vince Roth, vice president, sales and marketing

 

Please briefly describe the history of Triangle Suspension.

The company was established in 1919 in Pittsburgh, in 1927 moved to current location in DuBois, Pa. Acquired by Marmon in 1969, added Flagg Suspension products in 1974, opened additional Distribution centers in Fontana, Calif. (1982) and Oklahoma City, Okla. (1988), added Triangle Air Spring line (Contitech brand) in 1991. Added short-run manufacturing facility in 2007.

Please briefly describe the company’s manufacturing structure: What do you build, who are your customers, etc.?

Triangle Spring manufactures leaf springs for light- and heavy-duty applications. All products are manufactured in DuBois, Pa., utilizing high-quality North American steel. We offer our products to warehouse distributors and authorized installers. The installer market is primarily stand-alone spring shops who have the ability to manufacture products as well as service equipment.

What separates Triangle from competitors in its marketplace?

Triangles commitment to our customers is our biggest differentiating characteristic, all orders received by 3 p.m. Eastern will ship out of one of the distribution centers on the same day, prepaid order minimum allow distributors to place orders daily if needed. Triangle also offers customer pick up at all locations with no order minimum, quality control initiatives are in place to insure that all products meet or exceed the standard established by Spring Research Institute (SRI). Lenient customer return policies allow for customers to replace slow moving products with the high turn items they require.

How do you believe customers perceive your business?

High-quality products at a competitive price.

How and why do your customers stay loyal to your business?

Products and our people, even in the age of electronic communication our customers still desire the personal touch we offer. We provide outstanding customer service on every facet. From order entry, to shipping, to accounts receivable our distributors can rely on an organization which has very little turnover and takes great pride in the products and services we offer.

What is one thing most customers/suppliers don’t know about Triangle that would surprise/impress them?

Triangle Suspension is part of Marmon Highway Technologies, Marmon was acquired by Berkshire Hathaway in 2008.

What makes Triangle Suspension a great place to work?

Triangle is very dedicated to providing a positive work environment where every opinion and suggestion matters. Under the leadership of George Koerner, Triangle invests in our employees and rewards them for productivity and compliance with policies. Triangle products are regarded as the highest quality in the aftermarket, all of our employees are proud of that reputation and work diligently to insure that reputation is not compromised.

How vital is it to have quality employees entering your business from younger generations, and how are you trying to recruit these younger professionals?

It is extremely important to recruit and train younger employees. Our work force is aging and to insure the vitality of Triangle in future generations we must continue to add younger employees. We work with several organizations locally to promote Triangle manufacturing and office support, we utilize national organizations to recruit for sales and marketing positions.

Do you feel Triangle is in the position to change with the times? If so how?

Triangle has shown in the past and continues to show that we are willing to change to meet the ever changing environment. We continue to invest in technology and make improvements utilizing 80/20 standards in manufacturing and distribution to insure Triangle will be vital for the next generation. Triangle understands the necessity of expanding product coverage and continually looks outside the heavy-duty industry for opportunities to utilize our manufacturing capabilities. This has taken us to different industries which has proven to be challenging as well as rewarding.

Do you have any advice for the next generation, as they work in this industry?

My advice is to look past your perception that this is an antiquated dirty industry. Embrace the opportunity to engage an industry with a proven record that continually evolves, and offers excellent opportunities for motivated individuals to achieve great career success.

Why did Triangle join GenNext? How can GenNext help Triangle’s employees?

Triangle believes in the future of our industry and proudly supports the efforts that Steve and his team are undertaking. It is our hope that partnering and promoting GenNext will provide opportunities for those looking to join the industry and they will in turn consider the opportunities Triangle Suspension Systems, Inc. offers.



Distributor Highlight

Distributor Highlight

Getting to Know Super Automotive Products

 

By Jorge Mederos, CEO at Super Automotive Products

Please briefly describe the history of Super Automotive Products.

Super Automotive Products Inc., was founded in 1965 as a Warehouse Distributor for automotive parts. After a couple of years, the company expanded into clutch remanufacturing and brake relining. By 1970 the company had expanded its rebuilding operations into driveline, water pumps, and other areas, and ceased handling light vehicle parts, therefore becoming a heavy-duty distributor. In 1991 founder Cándido Gonzalez sold the business to his nephew and present day owner, Evelio Mederos. Under new management, the company has expanded throughout the island from two to eight stores (two with shop service), and chosen to focus mainly on serving medium- and heavy-duty diesel vehicles under our trade name Super Truck Parts.

Please briefly describe your company’s distribution structure: What do you sell, who are your vendors, who are your customers, etc.?

The island of Puerto Rico is 100 miles by 35 miles. Our limited market size makes it difficult to be a successful specialist. In order to grow we have expanded our product lines, as well as our customer base. We cater to owner operators, shops, government agencies and municipalities, as well as local and national fleets. We are fortunate to have built strong relationships with many vendors worldwide over our 50 years in business. This allows us to solve many problems for our customers. With our eight stores, our customers are always less than 60 minutes away from one of our locations.

What separates Super Automotive Products from competitors in its marketplace?

At Super, we are always investing in people, technology, inventory, facilities and training. Our experienced personnel, combined with our large inventory, strategically located stores with good access and parking, open bin showrooms, and up to date information systems, make us our customer’s first stop when they want to get their vehicles back on the road.

How do you believe customers perceive your business?

Our customers appreciate our service level. They trust us to identify, and sell them quality parts and to procure them expeditiously for them if not in stock. We are seen as reliable.

How and why have your customers stayed loyal for 50 years?

I believe it is a combination of all the things expressed in the previous questions. It is difficult to be everything to everyone but we work hard at serving all medium and heavy duty vehicle owners. There are certain values, such as integrity, dependability, dedication, and respect that have characterized us through the years. Customers gravitate towards these and stay when they find them in a supplier.

What is one thing most customers/suppliers don’t know about Super Automotive Products that would surprise/impress them? (i.e., tell us something about Super Automotive Products we don’t know)

We are active in Social Media! Our Facebook page has around 25,000 Likes, and we have a lot of engagement from local and international followers.

What makes Super Automotive Products a great place to work?

Our organization is constantly benchmarking the company against others, inside and outside our industry. If you visit our branches you will notice a team environment that isn’t limited to the store, it is company wide. When hiring, we focus more on fit than function to preserve this culture. Our personnel feel listened to, and everyone has access to upper management.

How vital is it to have quality employees entering your business from younger generations, and how are you trying to recruit these younger professionals?

Recruiting younger employees into our company is a priority and a challenge. In order to attract younger talent we have had to make changes in the way we operate and the benefits we offer. We are changing the way we market ourselves, and allowing our culture to evolve into these modern times. Our industry is going through technological changes in how we communicate, sell, purchase, service, and manage. This younger generation is large, and will play an integral role in these changes.

Do you feel Super Automotive Products is in the position to change with the times? If so how?

Our company is always listening to trends and making process improvements as well as investing in technology. Super Truck Parts strives to operate somewhere between the early adopters and the early majority. Our management team pushes/supports this position and it is accepted throughout all of the organization.

Do you have any advice for the next generation, as they work in this industry?

To outsiders, careers in this industry may appear mundane, but they are challenging, and dynamic. Customer service is important, as well as technical knowledge and computer skills. Innovation will be driven by the youngest members in our industry. However, organizational change is not easy or quick. It takes a lot of effort. I challenge them to join/stay in the industry, step up and take charge!

What are your goals for the long-term future of Super Automotive Products?

I see us continuing to grow in our marketplace through the addition of product lines and service as well as expanding into other markets. Anyone who stays still will be overtaken very quickly in today’s business environment.

What are the three most pivotal moments in your career that you either learned from and/or that got you where you are?

1. Working summers during high school in the business (riveting brake shoes, doing inventory, working the counter) gave me a great understanding of the industry from the ground up.
2. When we acquired a competitor in 1998, we had to operate the branch with only two employees because the other six walked out. It was tough, but we managed to steer the investment into profitability by the third month. It showed me that we had the right team and tools to face any type of adversity.
3. Puerto Rico has been in an economic slump since 2006. Being able to operate successfully in this environment has given us a lot of confidence.

Are there any industry leaders that have influenced you/mentored you? Who were they and how has their knowledge assisted you?

Jerry Weiss who many years ago told me if I found a good employee to hire him/her even if I didn’t have an immediate job for them. Cándido Gonzalez, the company’s founder, who always strived to make his profit at the time of purchase. Evelio Mederos, whose work ethic I try to emulate, and is the gentleman I aspire to become.



In Other News

In Other News

GenNext Taking Over HDAW Poker Tournament

By Edward Kuo, GenNext HD Mentorship Chair

 

We are pleased to announce that the poker tournament is back after a one-year hiatus with one change!  Datalliance/HDX – long-time tournament host and organizer – has donated the tournament to GenNext.

The poker tournament has become a wildly popular tradition at HDAW, pitting colleagues, vendors, distributors and everyone else in the industry against each other in a friendly tournament of Texas Hold’em No-Limit Poker.  The tournament is run by the Mirage Poker Room and features a rare opportunity for poker amateurs, beginners and wanna-be’s to play in a professional tournament setting.

The 2016 tournament will be held on Wednesday night, January 27 at the newly renovated Mirage Poker Room, starting at 8:30 pm. Registration for the tournament will open in December – stay tuned!