Distributor Highlight

Distributor Highlight

Getting to know Action Truck Parts

By Nick Seidel, Vice President


Please briefly describe the history of Action Truck Parts (a quick summary is fine)

Action Truck Parts started back in 2005 as an HDA Truck Pride associate location, Acme Truck Parts.  A second location of Acme Truck Brake & Supply. In 2007, Ben Seidel, president, bought out the other partner in the company, Bill Dudek of Acme Truck Brake and Supply. With Ben Seidel’s contacts in the industry, Acme Truck Parts then became the first Traction Truck Parts location in the United States as a franchise location of TW Distribution. During the next six years, Nick Seidel, now vice president of Action, become more involved in growing the business and taking on new opportunities. One of those opportunities was joining VIPAR Heavy Duty. In June 2013, Traction Bolingbrook dropped the TR from Traction and Action Truck Parts was born. Over the past four years, Action Truck Parts has been on the forefront of the changing heavy-duty aftermarket with the growing retail driven marketplace. In July 2016, Action acquired its second location in the Chicago market, Darryl Dupre Truck Parts, located in Rockdale, Ill. In effort to expand their retail structure, Action Truck Parts is currently moving their Rockdale branch to a much larger facility with a renovated retail space. The project is planned to be completed by the beginning of June 2017.

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

We are a diverse heavy-duty distributor. Our company focus is to have the right part, at the right time, for a fair price. We aim to sell and stock whatever our customers ask us to. If we do not have it, our customers are going to go elsewhere. We strive to provide anything that a customer needs. Our motto is, “If we do not have it, we will get it for you as fast as possible.” Because a lot of our customers are repair shops, they do not have the time to wait for products because that truck sitting in their bay is taking up prime real estate that makes them money. We have to supply their demands as soon as possible. We align ourselves with suppliers that offer a premium product—Phillips Industries, Bendix, Automann, Webb Wheel, Tramec Sloan, Gates, and S&S Truck Parts—just to name a few.

What separates Action Truck Parts from competitors in its marketplace?

We are customer service focused. We are a supplier for our customers. If we do not fulfill their needs, they are forced to go elsewhere. Because of our motto, we want to be that first call. We make sure all of our deliveries and pickups are done in no longer than an hour’s time. Our staff is knowledgeable. We have training provided for them once a month from our suppliers. Just like anything else, continued education is key.

How do you believe customers perceive your business?

I believe our customers perceive us as a young and eager company to deal with. There are few times that we tell our customers no. We do whatever it takes to serve the customers that call on us.

How and why have your customers stayed loyal to your business?

Loyalty is hard to come by in Chicago. Everything is price driven. For those customers that have been loyal, it is our service and drive to provide them with whatever it is they need. Whether it is a brake drum, an engine, or even a lawn mower, we will find a way to provide them with theirs needs.

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

We are a young group. Average age is 34 years old. Although we are young, most of our employees have come up in the trucking industry. Whether it is a dealership past, trucking family, or automotive background, all the employees understand the fundamentals of a vehicle.

What are the pros and cons are for working for a family-owned business?

Pros: The biggest thing is that decisions get made fast. Just like our customers, we do not have the time to wait around for things to happen.

Cons: Being the third generation, there is a lot of pressure to carry on the legacy. I focus on growth and tend to not the little things get in the way.

What makes Action Truck Parts a great place to work?

The feeling of being a part of something. We never sugar coat anything. We are extremely honest with our employees. Everyone has responsibility and they are rewarded for the things they do. Action is nothing without its employees.

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

We are a very young company. We are hiring people that are eager to learn. They don’t always have the most aftermarket experience but want to be a part of something that is going to change the industry. We sell the idea of growth and the opportunity of growing with the company. Action does not want turn over. We pay our employees well, invest in them and hope that they understand that we stand behind them and their families.

Do you feel Action Truck Parts is in the position to change with the times? If so how?

Absolutely. We want to be the leaders of change. Retail, technology, and most importantly, our people. The retail aspect of the business is huge. Sixty percent of our business walks through the front door. If we don’t change things on the sales floor, people have nothing new to look at. Social media is and has been a focus of Action Truck Parts for the last two years. Our customers now know more than ever. Competition is getting stronger, margins are getting thinner, and we have to be prepared to have answers for our customers. Any information we can provide via Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of media to our customer base the better. Our people. Once again, a young staff that understands what we are good at and where we need to improve. No idea is ever shut down. We ask for comments and suggestions weekly from our staff. If they think we need to do things differently, we try it. If it doesn’t work, we change it and try something else. If you’re not changing, you’re not growing.

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

Be patient. Be patient. Be patient. Do not come into this industry thinking you are going to re-invent the wheel. Sort of cliché, but the next generation wants it all with half the work. Success only comes before work in the dictionary. Work harder, work longer, but use the tools you have to work smarter.

What are your goals for the long-term future of Action Truck Parts?

Action Truck Parts is in a unique position. Because of the Seidel Diesel Group and it family of companies, we already have market penetration in various markets across the country. We plan to expand our brand and business into those areas. Although Chicago has been the focus for the last 12 years, Action Truck Parts is very interested in acquisitions in other parts of country.

Why did Action Truck Parts join GenNext? How can GenNext help Action Truck Parts’ employees?

Action joined GenNext because I saw an opportunity to get involved with a group and some people that had a mindset to change what the aftermarket is and has been. Behind the times sort of speak. The average age of the industry is in the area of 55 to 60. That needs to change if we plan to have individual, family owned companies that provide for the transportation industry. We need younger people involved. Otherwise, like we have seen in other industries, the big corporations are going to soak up the little guy. GenNext offers our employees a base from where we can learn from. The Distributor Training Expo, webinars, and the mentoring idea behind GenNext, offers insight to an industry that our employees might not experience if we were not involved. Also, I was “voluntold” that I was going to be involved. LOL. Obviously, by the relationships that I have cultivated in the industry with the young professionals that want to change where the heavy-duty aftermarket is going.

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

  1. Joining VIPAR Heavy Duty in 2013
  2. Networking every event like there is nothing else to do.
  3. Treating every moment like I have nothing to loose.

You have to take chances. If you don’t, you will never know if it will work. Since 2013, I am not afraid to ask for anything. Whether it is an  employee, a customer, and most importantly, a supplier. Listen to your people. They are the number one supplier of information. Never dismiss their ideas.

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

Bill Dudek – Acme Truck Brake & Supply: Bill always told me to research everything. Double check your work. Provide your customer with everything they need. Never say no. There is an abundance of information Bill has taught me about the industry. Most importantly, do not get caught up in just supplying your customer, make sure it makes sense. If you have to walk away from a deal, do it knowing that you made the best decision for your company and the people that work for you.

John Bzeta – Fleet Brake: John and I have been friends for the last few years. He brings a different perspective to the table. One late night at HDAW a few years ago, John over heard a conversation I was having with a supplier. He walked over, tapped me on the shoulder, and ask me to take a walk. Knowing who he was but not personally, I excused myself from the conversation and followed John. Not knowing why he asked to speak with me, I was curious. He started the conversation with this, “Do not ever let a supplier tell you how you need to do things. Dictate to them the way things will be. Be straight, be honest, and never be afraid to be demanding. If suppliers want your business, and truly want it, they will listen and make it happen. Never be afraid to ask. The worst thing they can say is no, but you will never know if you don’t ask.” That conversation has stuck with me for the last four years. I practice it daily.

Dave Willis – CRW Parts: Dave is a wealth of knowledge. His family company has been around for what, 200 years? I look to Dave for insight on inventory, employees, and most importantly, the beautiful game of golf. The best thing about Dave is that no matter how busy business is, where he is at in the country watching his kids play sports, or how bad his golf game is, he always answers the phone when I call. A true friend and mentor.




Supplier Highlight

Supplier Highlight

Getting to know ConMet

By Ken Kelley, vice president of North American sales

Please briefly describe the history of ConMet?

Consolidated Metco began in 1964 with its first aluminum foundry in Portland, Ore. It was established to provide lightweight structural parts that were greatly needed in the heavy-duty truck market. Over the past 52 years, ConMet grew by acquisition and the addition of more diversified business interests. Today, ConMet is one of the trucking industry’s leading suppliers for wheel ends, aluminum permanent mold castings, aluminum die castings, and structural foam and gas-assist plastic parts.

Please briefly describe your comapny’s sales structure: what do you sell, who are your customers, etc?

ConMet has three distinct product lines: wheel ends (hubs, brake drums, rotors), aluminum permanent mold castings (fuel tank brackets, suspension brackets, cross members), and plastics (instrument panels, sleeper cabinets, exterior bumpers, exterior farings). Major customers are North American Class 6-7 truck OEM’s, North American semi-trailer OEM’s, and ConMet is now developing an international footprint including a significant presence in the Chinese OEM truck and bus market.

What separates ConMet from competitors in its marketplace?

ConMet focuses on premium value-add products focused on optimizing lifecycle costs.

How do you believe customers perceive your business?
Our customers don’t think of us as a “supplier” of products to the industry. ConMet is perceived as the design/development leader in our respective markets for innovative solutions to existing industry issues as well as leader in future technologies.

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

ConMet has a longstanding reputation for delivering quality products backed by a strong focus on customer service and support.

What is one thing most customers/suppliers don’t know about ConMet that would surprise/impress them?
ConMet was originally a part of Freightliner in the 1960’s.

What makes ConMet a great place to work?

ConMet has an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP). Because our employees are the owners of our company, ConMet has created a culture of empowerment and continuous improvement. ConMet also has an extensive Talent Development Program, and this continuous investment in the development of employees creates a culture of learning. This constant focus on both employee development and employee wellness leads to positive morale in the workplace, and makes ConMet a great place to work.

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

One important element of ConMet’s Talent Development System is Recruitment and Selection. The company places a tremendous amount of effort and attention in our interviewing, selection, and onboarding process in order to secure quality employees. This is especially important when attracting young talent to ConMet. To meet our engineering needs, ConMet has been a partner in a MECOP program (Multiple Engineering Cooperative Program) for more than 20 years. This program allows us to recruit and retain talented engineering graduates entering the workplace. Many of our Engineering Managers, Directors, and even Vice Presidents have come through this entry level program.

Does ConMet feel it is in the position to change with the times? If so how?

ConMet has a long history of innovation and of creating new solutions and products for the commercial vehicle industry. Recently, ConMet created a dedicated innovation team to address evolving technology trends affecting the commercial vehicle market. ConMet’s innovation team, in collaboration with many industry technology leaders, is working to create new and exciting new products for the commercial vehicle market.

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

Find a few mentors in the industry and ask them about their career experiences: major lessons learned, major accomplishments, major failures and lessons learned. Some of the most successful and influential people often have interesting stories of failure along the way. Most often, these perceived “failures” turn out to be valuable learning experiences. And, it’s just as important to learn from somebody else’s mistakes as your own mistakes.

What are the long-term future of ConMet in the heavy-duty aftermarket?

ConMet will continue to heavily invest in people and innovation to remain the leader in our respective markets for premium value-add products.

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

Not only can ConMet support GenNext’s mentoring program, but GenNext offers ConMet another avenue of access to professional talent within our industry.

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

1. Being promoted into my first managerial position only a few years out of college where I was responsible for supervising 27 people.
2. Resigning from a stable/comfortable position at a rather large company and taking the risk of accepting an exciting growth opportunity at a smaller entrepreneurial company. The breadth of experience I gained working for a smaller rapidly growing company was a defining part of my career.
3. Obtaining the Technology and Maintenance Council’s Silver Spark Plug award, which is one of the highest levels of recognition in the Council. To obtain an award of that magnitude from a group of peers of that caliber is extremely humbling and flattering.

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

• Kelly Dier, President-Marmon Highway Technologies. Kelly is a well-known icon within the industry and is known for his strong value on customer and employee relationships. Due to Kelly’s unique style and personality, he has a countless number of people who consider him a mentor. Words can’t adequately describe his influence on my career.
• Phil Fensel, Co-Owner-Walther EMC. Phil provided an entrepreneurial environment where I was able to broaden my skills far beyond just engineering and into a litany of other skills including Sales, Marketing, Business Development, and General Management. This environment combined with his professional and personal mentoring was a critical part in my career.

Education Update

Education Update

Jay Urban, GenNext HD Education Chair

GenNext is once again preparing its education schedule for the upcoming year. We hope to add educational events to our schedule throughout the calendar year, and will announce each event and activity as they are finalized.

Mentorship Update

Mentorship Update

Nick Seidel, GenNext HD Mentorship Chair

GenNext held its first speed mentoring session earlier this fall at the VIPAR Heavy Duty annual business conference. The speed mentoring session allowed a group of young aftermarket professionals to speak and ask questions with supplier and distributor industry veterans. GenNext was encouraged by the turnout and looks forward to using the method at future events.

Recruitment Update

Recruitment Update

Nikki Paschall, GenNext HD Recruitment Chair

Greetings GenNexters!!

Recruitment has been heavily focused on HDAW coming up in January! We’ve been working hard to organize our Northwood University interns and are happy to report we’re bringing 25 students this year! You may remember this program began in 2015 with 10 students sponsored by Suppliers and Industry Associations. Last year, we doubled the program and were able to partner 20 students with sponsoring companies. We’re ecstatic that this internship has been met with such overwhelming support and has continued to grow each year. Stay tuned for more information on these amazing students!

Industry Update

Industry Update

It’s time to sign up for the Distributor Training Expo

If you haven’t done it yet, now is the time to sign up for our second annual Distributor Training Expo presented in conjunction with the Commercial Vehicle Solutions Network (CVSN).

Last year’s event was a rousing success, allowing us to expand next year’s event to 175 distributor attendees and up to 28 supplier representatives.

Set for April 21-23, 2017, at the Hyatt Regency in Atlanta, the Distributor Training Expo is a single-location training event that saves each supplier a considerable amount of time and money in both travel, housing and other expenses, and allows each company to quickly assemble a national sales force that regularly interacts with end users each day.

Open spots for distributor attendees is going fast, so interested parties are advised to click the link below and sign up as quickly as possible. Distributor companies are allowed to send a maximum of eight employees to the event, which will allow “45-55” distributor businesses to be represented at the event.

Suppliers have two options when signing up for the event: a Gold-level sponsorship ($20,000) or a Silver-level sponsorship ($10,000). All supplier spots are limited and are on a first-come first-serve basis. There are eight Gold-level sponsor slots 20 Silver-level sponsor slots.

Organizers say the supplier fee to participate includes:

  • Classroom and booth training area space so you can network, discuss and train 175 of the front-line sellers of your product in the aftermarket (each distributor attendee will have 4-6 hours on the trade show floor).
  • All meals and networking receptions
  • A 10 ft. x 20 ft. (Gold) or 10 ft. x 10 ft. (Silver) individual training area booths based on sponsor level.
  • If suppliers want to bring extra manpower above the for attendees included in the Gold-level sponsorship and two attendees in the Silver-level sponsorship, the cost is $495.00 per extra person to cover F&B.
  • Gold sponsors will receive one hour long training session for all 175 distributor attendees.
  • Silver sponsors will receive two 30-minute training timeslots for 25-50 distributor attendees

Organizers say suppliers are only required to submit a 50 percent deposit to reserve a sponsorship during registration, with the balance able to be paid in two 25 percent installments by Friday, Jan. 27 and Friday, Feb. 24, 2017.

Please direct any questions regarding the event to co-chairs Angelo Volpe and Steve Hansen.

To sign up as a supplier, please CLICK HERE.
To sign up as a distributor, please CLICK HERE.

Distributor Highlight

Distributor Highlight

Getting to know Truck Equipment, Inc.
Jordan Schroeder, President

Please briefly describe the history of Truck Equipment, Inc.
Truck Equipment was founded in 1959 by Isadore “Ise” Kwaterski and Cletus Pierquet. In 1978, Lynn Schroeder joined Truck Equipment as a parts manager.  Lynn became the owner of the organization in 2005. Jordan Schroeder, Lynn’s son, joined Truck Equipment in 2010 as its controller. Jordan was promoted to president in 2015. Truck Equipment is a family-owned and run business currently transitioning ownership to the second generation of the Schroeder family.


Please briefly describe your company’s distribution structure: What do you sell, who are your vendors, who are your customers, etc.?
Truck Equipment is a diversified company offering aftermarket parts sales; truck and trailer repair; commercial truck equipment sales, service and installation; snow and ice removal equipment; new and used trailer sales and service; semi-trailer rental and leasing; hydraulic sales and service; and a sign and graphics shop. Our customers are fleets, municipalities, repair shops, construction contractors, etc. Anyone with a medium- to heavy-duty piece of equipment both on highway and off highway. Our suppliers are aftermarket and OE companies that distribute medium- and heavy-duty components and equipment.


What separates Truck Equipment from competitors in its marketplace?
Being a one-stop shop combined with the knowledge and expertise that we have to offer our customers to go along with the products and services we provide. Although we are a diversified company we are focused on all of the products we sell and work hard to ensure we have the people and expertise to back them up.


How do you believe customers perceive your business?
A trustworthy, quality and fair organization with a knowledgeable staff focused on offering quality products and services to meet their needs.


How and why have your customers stayed loyal to your business?
One of the largest reasons is because of our people. Throughout Truck Equipment we have a number of key individuals that our customers have come to know and trust. We wouldn’t be where we are today without these individuals. Thank you to each and every one of them!


What is one thing most customers/suppliers don’t know about Truck Equipment that would surprise/impress them? (i.e., tell us something about Truck Equipment we don’t know)
How diversified we really are. A lot of our customers and suppliers see and/or hear of the diverse products and services we provide, but they may only have an up close experience with one or two of our offerings and typically do not see the full depth of our offerings.


What are the pros and cons are for working for a family-owned business?
I feel that the culture that can be obtained from a family-owned business is second to none. The business can become of family of its own. In my opinion most family businesses are more caring, family friendly and have a stronger focus on individuals.


What makes Truck Equipment a great place to work?
Our focus on people and the team. In our company there’s a strong focus on our people and relationships. It’s not always just about the bottom line today and our goal is to share in the success of the organization. We are very focused on the future for Truck Equipment as a whole and the individuals that make up the team.


How vital is it to have quality employees entering your business from younger generations, and how are you trying to recruit these younger professionals?
Extremely vital. The demographics of our country is shifting. We are aging as a nation as are many of our organizations. There’s a strong need for talent across all industries to take the place of retirees and additional hires. I feel strongly that a great place to start is by promoting our industry to our high schools and middle schools to get kids thinking about the heavy-duty industry. We’re working on doing our part to attract younger generations to our industry by participating in career fairs at the middle school and high school level. In addition, we have hired on one youth apprentice in each of our shops. I am also active on advisory committees at our local technical schools.


Do you feel Truck Equipment is in the position to change with the times? If so how?
Yes. We are very focused on the future and staying in front of change within our industry and business as a whole. We are doing this by strengthening our focus on the needs of our customers, suppliers, and the industry. By participating in both industry and non-industry specific events and groups were able to take advantage of new opportunities or adjust our current state.


Do you have any advice for the next generation, as they work in this industry?
I’m part of the next generation. I see this industry as one rich with opportunities. It’s an exciting and rewarding industry to be a part of.


What are your goals for the long-term future of Truck Equipment?
Growth across all of our product and service offerings and an even stronger focus on each of them. To continue being a quality one stop shop for our customers and the partner of choice for suppliers and other business partners.


Why did Truck Equipment join GenNext? How can GenNext help Truck Equipment’s employees?
Truck Equipment joined GenNext to support an organization focused on attracting, training and mentoring industry talent. GenNext can help our employees by continuing to offer and strengthening training opportunities such as the Distributor Training Expo, webinars, etc.


What are the three most pivotal moments in your career that you either learned from and/or that got you where you are?
At 33 years old I have had a number of experiences and opportunities that most people at my age have not had. I also have not taken the typical path to get to where I am today. After high school I spent about eight years working in the construction industry with about six of those years spent being a professional truck driver and crane operator never imagining I would be where I am today. Throughout those years of driving I learned a lot from what I refer to as my fellow “ground floor” workers by listening to their struggles, wins, frustrations and general thoughts and opinions on management. While I did end up going back to school and earning a bachelor’s degree in accounting, I feel that the eight years of education that I received from being a ground floor worker myself is equal to, if not more important, than my college education. I feel those eight years have truly made me a better leader and has helped get me where I am today.


Are there any industry leaders that have influenced you/mentored you? Who were they and how has their knowledge assisted you?
My father is one individual along with a number of the many industry veterans that are a part of Truck Equipment and the industry. I have learned a lot of the past history, successes and failures of the industry which I have taken in and combined with where we are today and where our organization and the industry is headed. I am very future focused, but there is always something we can learn from the past.



Supplier Highlight

Supplier Highlight

Getting to know Phillips Industries

By Rob Phillips, President

Please briefly describe the history of Phillips Industries?

Hugh Phillips began selling truck parts to produce haulers 1928. Seizing an opportunity, he developed and applied for a patent for a vehicle signal arm (precluding turning signals as we know them today).  H.W. Phillips Company grew through the years, and in the mid-1970s, they were one of the largest distributors in the Southwestern USA.  In the mid 1970s, Phillips Manufacturing Company was created, and ten years later, the manufacturing business surpassed the distribution business, and a decision was made by the third-generation leader, Bob Phillips to focus 100 percent on manufacturing products “that make a difference.” Today, Phillips products are standard position on all Class 8 trucks built in North America, and we have higher trailer OEM market share than all of our competitors combined—something we’re very proud of, and something that drives us to constantly raising the bar. We operate facilities in the USA, Canada, Mexico, China, Malaysia and Belgium, and have sales in more than 50 countries around the world.

Please briefly describe your comapny’s sales structure: what do you sell, who are your customers, etc?

In North America, we have a team of more than 20 direct salespeople, as well as two rep agencies that are focused on the aftermarket. We also have an OEM sales team focused on representing Phillips on both the truck and trailer sides of the business. Outside of the U.S., we have both OEM and aftermarket salespeople focused in Europe, Latin America and Asia.

What separates Phillips Industries from competitors in its marketplace?

We are focused on constantly developing products that will save our fleet customers time and money throughout their operations, ultimately leading up to greater up-time for their vehicles. The fact is that our competitors are mostly very good, respectable companies, with good people.  We try hard to not focus on our competitors, but instead to continue to do whatever we can to make ourselves a valuable, reliable, trusted, and invisible extension of our distributors’ and fleets’ businesses.

How do you believe customers perceive your business?

Our customers look to Phillips to help them tackle the toughest problems they are faced with every day. They trust in our ability to provide them with innovative products that will keep their vehicles on the road. We have built trust with them over the long-haul by providing products that solve their problems, and they know that we stand behind our products with immense pride. I’m told that we are well regarded in the industry, but we can’t ever rest on our laurels and assume that that’s enough to take us into the future.  We strive to find ways to always get better, and I believe this is one of the traits that our customers appreciate about us.

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

They know that we see them as partners, not just customers. And our high-quality products speak for themselves.  When you’ve been around as long as we have, we’ve probably screwed up with every customer at least once – It’s just a reality of being in business for 88 years!  But, it’s how we look long-term when we respond to problems, and it’s how we go way above and beyond to make things right.  Our customers know without a doubt that we are working by their side to support them.

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

I can’t just name one thing! The first is that Phillips Industries started as a smaller warehouse distributor in downtown LA. It’s one reason that we pride ourselves in customer service to our warehouse distributors customers and others—we really know deep-down what is needed, and we work hard to take care of our customers. Second, we have a reputation of being an OEM supplier that also sells into the aftermarket. I guess that’s true, but most customers don’t realize that we have more sales in the aftermarket than we do at the OEMs. Third, we are the only manufacturer in the world that can offer both 12 volt (primarily used in North American, or SAE-standard environments) and 24 volt (used in the rest of the world, regulated by ISO standards) products.

What makes Phillips Industries a great place to work?

We are a fourth generation, privately-owned company and look at our employees as extended family. We encourage our employees to become the best they can be and to take ownership in every process they are involved in—our employees are the foundation to our success, their dedication is reflected in the quality of our products. Our motto is “We make products that make a difference,” but it really should say, “We develop people that make products that make a difference.”

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

We believe in succession planning and the younger generation plays a big part in this. Just recently, we added too exceptional graduates from the Northwood’s University of the Aftermarket to our sales team. We understand that there are different challenges keeping younger employees engaged and driven, and we work hard to create an environment that offers growth and a lot of learning opportunities. Most importantly, I believe that the companies who deeply respect their employees and allow them space to learn (through positive and negative experiences) will have much higher retention rates than those companies who continue to lead with a carrot or a stick. Employee development is paramount to our success! When asked, “What if you invest in them and they leave,” my brother Dave always responds with “What if we don’t, and they stay?”  I think that really sums it up.

Does Phillips Industries feel it is in the position to change with the times? If so how?

Absolutely. We are very flexible and embrace change of any kind. We also really listen to our employees and anything can be achieved when working within a well-functioning team.

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

This industry rocks!  It’s one of the only industries that I know of where your personal brand, your word, and the relationships you create will make or break your future … and where people really buy from people. Surround yourself with good people, and they’ll introduce you to other great people. On the flip side, if you burn a bridge, it’s going to hurt for a long time because most folks in our industry don’t leave.  They may change companies, but they rarely leave the industry!

What is the long-term future of Phillips Industries in the heavy-duty aftermarket?

I don’t see us changing much; more refining what we do to get better. We will continue to do what’s gotten us to this point. Products may evolve, faces may change some, but our formula for focusing on what our customers need is what will keep us relevant in the future.

Why did Phillips Industries join GenNext? How can GenNext help Phillips Industries’ employees?

It is very important for us to show support for future generations—not only is the industry changing, but so are the people working within the industry. We look at this change as a major opportunity to reach new levels of innovation to help our customers with any problems that might affect them. We believe GenNext offers the new generation of employees an outlook of what their future can look like within this industry, and it provides them with the tools to be successful. It’s our responsibility as industry leaders to do what we can to create more excitement around our industry. It’s got to be one of the most underrated businesses around, and if we can create the opportunity to show younger people how great it is, there’s a great chance they will stick around for a long time!

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

That’s a tough one!  Before I worked at Phillips, I had dreams of being in the restaurant industry (much sexier owning a cool restaurant or bar than making truck parts, right?). John Callos, our former vice president of Marketing took me under his wing one summer and helped me to launch a product which we still sell 25 years later. I wasn’t interested in our business until he exposed me to all the different parts (marketing, manufacturing, engineering, purchasing, product management, etc.), and the great people that really cared about our success, and man- once I was exposed to all of this, I was hooked.  Another pivotal moment for me was when I was working in the shipping department at Phillips as an order puller.  My older brother and I worked well after midnight at month-end trying to set a new shipping record for the company, and we were successful.  I arrived the next morning at 9 a.m., and my Dad asked me “What time do you start?”  I said, “8 a.m., but it’s ok because we were here till 1:30 a.m. last night setting a new shipping record.”  He told me something I’ve never forgotten.  He said “Nobody saw you at 1:30 last night, but everyone saw that your car wasn’t here by 8 a.m., and as the boss’s son, you have to work twice as hard to earn half the respect. The perception of the employees here is that you probably went out late last night, and because you’re the boss’s son, you felt you didn’t play by the same rules as everyone else.”

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

My dad has been the one who’s had the most influence on who I am, and how I show up. He taught me that urgency to solving problems is critical, and that building and maintaining strong personal relationships will prove to be more valuable than any degree I may have hanging on the wall!  Although he’s a tough mentor, he’s done more to shape me than anyone else.

Mentorship Update

Mentorship Update

Nick Seidel, GenNext HD Mentorship Chair

The GenNext mentorship committee continues its work on a new mentorship feature to enhance our program. Once released, we believe the program enhancements will be a great asset for all GenNext members, and the independent aftermarket at large. We want to help you learn more about this industry, and we believe the mentorship program can do that.

In the meantime we hope all active GenNexters are making use of their current mentor/mentee relationships.

Recruitment Update

Recruitment Update

Nikki Paschall, GenNext HD Recruitment Chair

GenNext recruitment continues to be strong in the aftermarket. We received a boost in May after our Distributor Training Expo with CVSN, and are optimistic that we can grow that event, and our overall membership totals, in future months.

GenNext will have representatives at the CVSN Aftermarket Distribution Summit in September and VIPAR Heavy Duty meeting in October, so be sure to catch one of our leaders if you have interest in adding colleagues to GenNext, or personally expanding your role in our organization.

GenNext is open to everyone in the aftermarket. So we encourage anyone who is interested to sign up and try it for a year.