A chat with Don Reimondo, president and CEO at HDA Truck Pride
Don Reimondo is adamant. Looking at the state of the aftermarket in 2015, the industry veteran believes the aftermarket is on the cusp of a dramatic transformation.
The future is now.
“Just look at some of the businesses out there today that didn’t exist a few short years ago,” says Reimondo, president and CEO at HDA Truck Pride. “Uber is now the largest mover of people in the world, and it doesn’t even own a vehicle. Alibaba is the largest mover of retail products in the world, and it doesn’t have any inventory.”
Running a successful aftermarket business in 2025 will require major changes today, he says, and every day the aftermarket puts off evolving it risks falling even further behind.
He mentions embracing the realities of telematics, diagnostics, social media, next generation employees and non-industry talent as specific areas where the aftermarket must improve.
“I think those [areas] are going to be growth inhibitors for us,” he says. “I think the state of the industry today is very good, and yet if we want that to continue, the No. 1 thing we need to do is quickly move forward in these areas.”
Reimondo says the importance of telematics and diagnostics can be found by the way both impact a customer’s downtime. He says dealers have a major head start in this area due to their OEM partnerships, and if the aftermarket wants to maintain its service market share moving forward, distributors and service providers have to pick up the pace.
“Telematics is going to dictate where service is done on a vehicle,” he says. “If we don’t have the tools to communicate with those vehicles, we’re going to be locked out.”
He says innovation on the automotive side — such as Tesla’s ability to repair its vehicles over the Internet — also could result in future aftermarket service challenges.
“That should scare every [service provider] in the world,” he says. “We need to figure out what impact that is going to have on heavy vehicles 3, 5, or even 10 years down the road, because eventually it’s going to make its way to us. We’re going to need to be prepared to compete with that.”
Reimondo also believes aftermarket staffing is at a crossroads.
As an industry filled with veteran employees, Reimondo says change is inevitable. Aftermarket businesses should be actively recruiting both college graduates and technical professionals for talented, forward-thinking employees that can help move the industry onward.
And doing so requires an acceptance of the aspects of youth culture — specifically its reliance on technology and automation, Reimondo says.
“We can’t ignore how the millennial generation and subsequent generations are going to do business,” he says. “We have to understand how they can impact how business is going to get done in the future, and work with them to implement those ideas.”
He cites GenNext specifically as one group that can help kick start that transition in the industry.
GenNext members, and younger employees in general, are predominately more accepting and understanding of the changes necessary in the aftermarket, Reimondo says.
“We have stood around while the world has changed around us,” he says. “We can’t do that anymore. The competition of tomorrow looks nothing like the competition of the past.
“[As an industry] we need to accept and understand that.”
It is with that in mind that Reimondo challenges GenNext members and young aftermarket employees throughout the industry.
“It’s tough for someone like myself to go to Northwood University and recruit a young kid into the aftermarket,” he says. “I can tell them how [the industry] has been good to me, but that’s not going to sway them. They need to hear it from you.
“They want to hear why you are in the industry, and what you are getting out of it.”
He continues, “If every member of GenNext could recruit just one person to this industry on a yearly basis, just think of what kind of an impact that would have. We need to attract young people to this business, and GenNext and your members are very capable of doing that.”