Newsletter

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.



Education Update

Education Update

Jay Urban, GenNext HD Education Chair

The newest education feature of GenNext is in development, and should be released to all members and the aftermarket at large in the near future. The new feature will allow members the opportunity to receive valuable business training that they can bring back and implement in their facilities to see immediate benefits.

GenNext will distribute a press release once event details are finalized that will run in Truck Parts & Service. We also will update this website with details of the event for interested parties. So stay tuned, as news is on the way!



Industry Update

Industry Update

A note from our president

Ian Johnston, Harman Heavy Vehicle Specialists

Hello everyone. I want to take a moment to give a quick recap and Q3 update on GenNext, the board and the activities GenNext has in the works in the coming months.

Let’s start with the Distributor Training Expo, held in conjunction with the Commercial Vehicle Solutions Network (CVSN) from April 29 to May 1 in Atlanta. This event was an incredible success. We received kind regards from distributor and supplier attendees alike, and are thrilled with the overall perception of the event. Also regards to the Distributor Training Expo I want to say a thank you to Steve Hansen, Nick Seidel, Carlos Solis and Angelo Volpe for the tremendous amount of work they have put in to help pull off the event. The Distributor Training Expo was huge undertaking and it would not have come together without these folks taking the lead on this project. Great work team!

Looking at the rest of 2016, GenNext held receptions at the HDA Truck Pride and HDAC annual meetings earlier in the year and will have another reception at the VIPAR Heavy Duty annual meeting in October.

We also are in the infancy planning stage of trying to add in a GenNext mentoring ‘reception,’ for lack of a better term. Still in the development phase, this idea would be to have a form of speed meetings for mentors and mentees, with mentees moving from mentor to mentor asking questions, to create a more structured feedback between both groups. To this point much of the mentorship program has been self-administered by the paired mentors and mentees. We’re still discussing this as a possibility.

In addition, several of our first committee chairs have passed the baton to new leaders, each of which is actively working to enhance their committees and strengthen the overall GenNext program. Just this week, new Education Committee Chair Jay Urban of Meritor announced we have confirmed an upcoming merchandising webinar with Butch Hill.

And that’s just the beginning. More good news is on the way.

In closing, I want to say thank you to every one of you for your time, effort and dedication to GenNext. It is amazing to see such a great group of business professionals getting together, putting in their own time and effort to build something better for their industry and ultimately for the future of our businesses.

I am very excited to be involved with GenNext and think we have very big year ahead of us, so again thank you to all of you for your considerable efforts up to this point and moving forward.



Distributor Highlight

Distributor Highlight

Getting to know Point Spring & Driveshaft

By Adam Diecks, Marketing Director

Please briefly describe the history of Point Spring & Driveshaft?

Point Spring was founded in 1926 with our original location being in downtown Pittsburgh in an area that is now known as Point State Park. Since then we have grown through acquisitions and by opening new facilities. The company also has continued to diversify its product and service offering, starting as a spring shop and growing into a complete heavy-duty truck parts and service provider.

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

We consider ourselves to be a “complete truck parts and service provider.” We are distributors for most of the top OE and aftermarket manufacturers, providing parts and service for everything on a truck except for engine and body. We have a diverse customer base ranging from national fleets to owner operators covering many different vocations.

What separates Point Spring & Driveshaft from competitors in its marketplace?

What differentiates us from many of our competitors are the services that we offer.

How do you believe customers perceive your business?

We believe that our customers view us a more of a partner than just a supplier. We do our best to try to help provide service and solutions for our customers as opposed to just delivering parts.

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

Our customers remain loyal to us because of the steps we take to ensure that their expectations are met or exceeded when they deal with us. Also, we have many employees who have been with us for a long period of time and have established strong relationships with our customer base.

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

One of the best things about working for a family-owned business is the connection and access that all employees have to the owners of the company. The owners of Point Spring and Driveshaft Co., make a conscious effort to know and have a relationship with all of the employees in the company and their families.

What makes Point Spring & Driveshaft a great place to work?

The fact that any of our employees have been with us for a long time creates a family-like dynamic in the workplace where our employees work together, look out for each other and are always willing to help one another.

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

Having quality employees is possibly the most important factor influencing the future of our company. Our competitors have access to many of the same products that we distribute at competitive prices, the best way to differentiate ourselves is to have knowledgeable employees who are focused on providing exceptional customer service. We try to build and maintain relationships with local tech schools and universities as a way to recruit employees.

Do you feel Point Spring & Driveshaft is in the position to change with the times? If so how?

Point Spring & Driveshaft Co. has always focused on being ahead of the curve when it comes to technology as it relates to new parts on commercial vehicles or to systems and programs that help us to be a better partner to our customers and suppliers. I believe that this mindset has and will continue to allow us to change as the industry demands us to.

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

My advice would be to take advantage of all training and networking opportunities. There is a lot to learn in this industry and luckily the heavy-duty aftermarket is full of people that are willing to share their knowledge and experience with their peers.

What are your goals for the long-term future of Point Spring & Driveshaft?

Our goal is to continue to grow our company and to continue to be a premier supplier of truck parts and service to our current and future customer base.

Why did Point Spring & Driveshaft join GenNext? How can GenNext help Point Spring & Driveshaft’s employees?

We joined GenNext because like many other organizations in this industry, we have an aging work force and need to find ways to bring young people into our organization. We believe that GenNext can help us to find qualified employees and can help us to provide training for new employees so that we are able to continue to provide our customers with the service and support that they need long into the future.

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

It would be difficult to come up with a list of people in this industry that have influenced me. I have been lucky to be able to build relationships with owners and employees at other distributors, our supplier base as well as from various industry organizations. All of those people have helped me to gain a better understanding of how this industry works and what it takes to be effective in any role that I am given.



Supplier Highlight

Supplier Highlight

Getting to know SAF-HOLLAND

By Juan Hernandez, International Marketing & Sourcing Manager Aftermarket Business Unit

Please briefly describe the history of SAF-HOLLAND?

The SAF story began in 1881 in a German village blacksmiths’ shop with the invention of an agricultural plow. The family business grew and developed the first steel axles for agricultural vehicles, under the name, Otto Sauer Achsenfabrik (SAF). In 1950, SAF started manufacturing heavy-load truck trailer axles and by the 1960s became one of the leading manufacturers of trailer suspension and axle/brake systems in Europe.

The HOLLAND historical roots were also on the agricultural side. In 1910, HOLLAND invented a safety-coupling device between horse and plow. Founded in South Dakota, HOLLAND moved to Holland, Mich., in 1922. By the 1940s, the HOLLAND Hitch Company emerged as one of the largest suppliers of couplings, landing gear and fifth wheels to the commercial vehicle industry. In 2006, the German Otto Sauer Achsenfabrik GmbH and the North American manufacturer, Holland Group Inc. merged to form SAF-HOLLAND, a world leading supplier of high quality products to the global commercial vehicles industry.

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

SAF-HOLLAND markets to the heavy-duty commercial vehicle industry around the world. Our products are used by fleets (trucking) globally. We service our fleet customers through three main channels: Truck OEMs, Trailer OEMs and our aftermarket distribution network. We have a sales team dedicated to each one of these channels along with a team of sales professionals calling directly on the fleets. Although we don’t sell directly to our fleet customers, we make sure we are providing them with the latest technology and keeping them up to date on new products.

We are customer service focused, ensuring that they are getting what they need on the service side of the business as well.

SAF-HOLLAND has an extensive line of top quality products dedicated to satisfying the needs of our fleet customers in the heavy-duty commercial vehicle industry.

HOLLAND Fifth wheels: Most reliable fifth wheel in the industry.

NEWAY Truck and Bus Suspension Systems: Tough and made to last for on-highway and vocational use.

SAF Air Ride and Spring Ride Trailer Suspension and Axle Systems (formerly known as Binkley and Neway): huge offering of great quality suspension systems for trailers. Mechanical or air, both have long hours of engineering and testing in our labs to assure best performance.

HOLLAND Kingpins: Most popular kingpins in North America.

HOLLAND Landing Gear (formerly Binkley): Best name in landing gear for the Class 8 market.

HOLLAND Bumper Tubes: Safest and most widely used bumper tubes available in the market.

Gold Line Products: Our newest aftermarket product line targeting those cost conscious customers who need a lower cost product, still made by a reputable manufacturer.

What separates SAF-Holland from competitors in its marketplace?

For many years, it has been said that SAF-HOLLAND quality is so much better than any other comparable product out there. While this remains true, I believe that what really separates us today from our competitors in the marketplace is our full commitment to be a customer centered, customer focused, customer-oriented organization.

When you really feel this and make it part of your DNA at every level of your organization, your customers feel it too, and it takes your business to a whole new level. We care about our customers and we’re willing to go that extra mile as many times as needed to make sure they feel SAF HOLLAND is a great partner for their business. Product quality is a given and it is simply expected by the marketplace for SAF HOLLAND to provide the best quality product.

But, as it is stated in our Mission, “We make the greatest contribution possible to our fleet customers.” And, this is so much more than just making a good quality product.

How do you believe customers perceive your business?

Fun question to be answered by the Marketing guy that I am. In my opinion, it is all about perception and I have personally seen how “perception” plays such an important role in the success of a business of any type. In our situation, both our OE and independent channels perceive us as “HOLLAND… great quality and the most expensive fifth wheel and landing gear product in the marketplace.” I put this in quotation marks because one of the first things I did when I started in this position 2.5 years ago, was a perception study with a focus on the “price” variable. Being in charge of Marketing for our aftermarket side of the business, I am responsible for our pricing strategy for our extensive line of products. It was fun to immediately understand that:

We were still perceived as “HOLLAND, the fifth wheel and landing gear guys”… and not as SAF HOLLAND, the only fifth wheel manufacturer in the world that has a comprehensive product portfolio, covering trucks and trailers from “Front to Back” (Truck Drive Axle Suspensions, Auxiliary Axle Suspensions, Coupling Systems, Kingpins, Trailer Air Ride and Spring Ride Suspension and Axle Systems, Turntables, Buber Tubes, etc.). This is why early this year at HDAW, we officially launched our Front to Back marketing campaign to do just that, help change the perception of Who we really are and What we have to offer from a product stand point to our fleet customers.

The perception of “higher price”—while it holds true for most of our fifth wheels and landing gear, it is not necessarily true of our other products, like spring ride suspensions, etc. Where we, in fact, are sometimes lower than our competition, especially in the aftermarket arena. The price of a product should vary as the product travels through its life cycle, which is a result of the perception of value a customer or market has of the given product. This is something we have started to do with most of our suspension components for some of our older suspension models (spring ride) and it has started to pay off. Little by little our customers know they can get, for example, an axle connection kit for one of our formerly NEWAY suspensions at the same price or lower price than what the “will-fits” of the world sell it for without risking safety, quality, and performance.

Sowith all that said, our goal, from a perception stand point, is that when one of our customers is asked who SAF-HOLLAND is, they answer by saying “SAF-HOLLAND is a great partner for any organization in the Heavy Duty Commercial Vehicle industry. Best product and easiest to deal with.” I strongly believe we are getting there! It just takes time and effort. When you do things right and everybody in your organization is engaged, it starts happening naturally, eventually.

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

Our customers know SAF-HOLLAND is there for them always. They know we are not perfect, but they sure know that they can count on us every time. “Customer Service is not a department – it’s an attitude” and that is what we live by at SAF-HOLLAND. Our newly renovated executive conference room has that tag-line by its name. I thought that was pretty cool.

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

Here is one thing I am sure you didn’t know.

SAF-HOLLAND invests heavily in giving back to our community and the environment. We are part of an organization that helps save the planet by planting a number of trees per year. We are also always trying to implement new ideas that can help us have a more friendly impact on this place called earth. Our vision of going digital wherever possible is also in response to contribute with less pollution.

What makes SAF-Holland a great place to work?

There are very clearly defined values. They clearly reflect how everybody behaves at work and in front of customers and suppliers and how we as a company achieve our goals and work towards our vision.

At SAF-HOLLAND, we:

  • Show respect
  • Communicate well
  • Are cost-focused
  • Are innovative
  • Are reliable
  • Utilize teamwork
  • Are honest

Here, you can be yourself, be rewarded for being innovative, and be honest. You can tell upper management when you think something should be done differently, and they will listen and make you feel that what you have to say really matters.

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

Sometimes it doesn’t really matter how old (physically speaking) you are as long as you are willing to stay young mentally and professionally. We are being hit badly (in a good way) by the digital revolution and it takes a great amount of open mindfulness, (which is something younger generations are full of), if an organization wants to be able to react, adopt, and adapt to it and not be left in the past. It is no secret that the way of doing business is changing rapidly, that the perception of value has shifted so much from the actual product to the “customer experience”, and digitalism is making this shift happen so much faster, easier and almost obligatory.

Younger generations (especially millennials, born after 1980) appreciate the need to be digitally connected at all times. Our customers are experiencing this need for connectivity at all levels as well. Now more than ever (and it has not stopped), our fleet customers are demanding products that can help them reduce their downtime and help them optimize their uptime. It has been proven that allowing your products, as a supplier to connect digitally with your fleet’s maintenance staff, from drivers to mechanics to maintenance managers, has a direct impact in a fleet’s uptime optimization. Prognostics, telematics, etc. are all ways in which the digital revolution is touching our industry.

Being able to have younger generations entering our business today is absolutely vital to our mid-to-long term strategy. They were born with that digital chip already built in. Wouldn’t you agree?

One other issue this industry recognizes is the fact that we have a lot of knowledgeable and key people reaching their retirement years. Therefore, companies need to be recruiting younger professionals.

Do you feel SAF-Holland is in the position to change with the times? If so how?

Absolutely! We are led by very wise executives. They are mentally young and open minded, (I hope they read this as I mean it with the highest respect for them as true leaders) which is the kind of leaders an organization needs in times when change is inevitable. We are already going through significant changes that should position us better to welcome this digital revolution and take the most out of it.

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

I have read several books throughout my career. There were some that I feel had a very positive impact in how I do things today and how I see life in the business world.

The power of focus by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen and Les Hewitt. “It’s not hocus pocus. It’s all about focus.” As you start to work in this industry, learn to focus on something where you think you can make a difference and try to stick to it for a while. Don’t jump around from one thing to the next. Before you know it, you will be that “go-to” person for that specific skill you developed. This is a very small industry and everybody ends up knowing everybody relatively quickly.

A sense of Urgency by John P. Kotter. For some reason, most people think that millennials (I am technically a millennial as well) are lazy, and lack of a sense of urgency when it comes to business and the professional life. I strongly recommend you read this book and do your best to develop an adequate sense of urgency. This industry will not appreciate waiting. When a truck or trailer is “down” and a part is needed, no one will ever want to do business with someone that is not willing to stop everything to make sure that truck or trailer gets back on the road right away. Downtime is the best opportunity to shine and become your customer’s best friend. Just don’t be the one causing the downtime. If you happen to make a mistake, admit your mistake (we’re all just humans and are not perfect) and rapidly show your will to fix it as soon as possible.

What are your goals for the long-term future of SAF-Holland in the heavy-duty aftermarket?

As I mentioned before, getting our customers to perceive us as “a great partner for any organization in the heavy-duty commercial vehicle industry, with the best product and easiest to deal with” is one big goal we will be working on for a while.

We also want to be that “one stop,” top quality supplier for most of your undercarriage related products in the heavy-duty commercial vehicle industry.

We will be a digitally connected supplier to our fleet customers.

We will be the ultimate supplier of best-in-class components, systems and services that will drive the success of our fleet customers in the global commercial vehicle Industry.

Why did SAF-Holland join GenNext? How can GenNext help SAF-Holland’s employees?

SAF-HOLLAND recognizes the need to attract younger generations to our industry. Instead of trying to steal talented people from our competitors or partners, we should start working in developing that next generation and educating them properly to make a great impact in this industry.

The webinars and education tools are great. I have attended two of them myself. They are a good way to learn and stay current on different topics trending in this industry. The mentoring program is a great tool as well.

I believe GenNext can be very helpful when it comes to recruiting young talent. Our organization is no exception to the reality of having very knowledgeable people getting ready to retire and getting that next Generation identified, trained, and available when needed will play a very important role in our success.

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

The day I left music school to go to Business and International Marketing School: My Dad loved music so much that he always wanted me to play an instrument and be involved with music in any way. What he never thought was that I would grow up to love music so much that I was willing to make it my life—it was already my passion—he almost had a heart attack. He said “you will not make a living out of music.”

Long story short, I left music school (I actually didn’t even make it through my first week) and enrolled in Universidad de Manizales, where I got my degree in International Marketing and Business. Guess what paid not only for my studies but also for my brothers?

Yes… MUSIC!!!

My dad and I put together a band and it was so good that we became very popular in Colombia. I am glad I left music and went into marketing, otherwise, I would have never made it to this industry and probably would have never made it to where I am today. (I still play the saxophone every now and then, but my Dad was right. There can only be so many Kenny G’s Thanks dad!!).

My internship at SICOLSA: To get your degree in Business and International Marketing, you must complete ten semesters plus either a graduation seminar or a thesis. Two of those ten semesters take place as an internship (6th and 10th semesters). My first internship was done at SICOLSA. This was definitely a pivotal moment in my carrier. I did such a good job as an intern that they decided to keep me even knowing I was only half way through college. This gave me the opportunity to start very young in the business world. I was graduating from the University at age 23 and had already been promoted to Director of Sales and Marketing for North America. I obviously stayed at SICOLSA for number of years after graduating in 2003. While working for SICOLSA, I joined SSA (Suspension Specialist Association). Through SSA, I met many great people and that’s when I fell in love with this industry. It’s the people what make it different.

Getting married: The most amazing part of my life was starting my own family. Getting married was the first step and it has brought nothing but joy and happiness to my life. It also helped me “focus.”

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

My Dad: The best salesman ever. He really knows the art of selling. He also taught me the rewards of hard and restless working.

My Mom: The values that dictate how I approach my life; respect, honesty, integrity, family always first, emotional intelligence at its best.

Ricardo Velez: General Manager at SICOLA at that time. From him, I learned how to become the business man I am today. Most of my leadership style comes from him. Great mentor and great team leader.

I would love to mention more people but the list might be too long.



Mentorship Update

Mentorship Update

By Edward Kuo, GenNext HD Mentorship Chair

The GenNext mentorship committee has been busy in recent months, and is working to develop a new mentorship feature within our program. While it¹s too early to have details, this new program will provide another layer of assistance for GenNext members hoping to learn more about this industry from experts and veterans within the field!

Be sure to check the GenNext website and follow GenNext in the news, and we¹ll eventually release our new program to the aftermarket.



Recruitment Update

Recruitment Update

By Nikki Paschall, GenNext HD Recruitment Chair

Recruitment for GenNext has been strong with new members coming from all areas of the industry!

We’re grateful to have so many industry events to host networking events at. Our latest event at the HDA Truck Pride Annual Meeting in San Antonio has outgrown the meeting space we’ve used for the last two years! We look forward to even more networking events in the upcoming months.

Remember to watch for updates on our first ever GenNext Training Expo!