Monthly Archives: April 2015

Sponsorship Highlight

Sponsorship Highlight

Sponsorship Update


By Bill Betts, GenNext sponsorship committee chair


The sponsorship committee has been hard at work making contact with our first year sponsors and receiving commitments to support GenNext in year two!  Since our last newsletter we have added Triangle and SAF-Holland as sponsors, bringing our total to 21. We have sponsorships with industry suppliers, distributors and service partners.  We are also advertising GenNext in industry publications, such as Truck Parts & Service and Heavy Duty Trucking! Our list of sponsors can be found on our website at http://gennext.wpengine.comsponsors/.


The GenNext mantra is to Educate, Mentor, and Recruit the next generation of heavy-duty aftermarket leaders and we are poised to do more of it in 2015 because of the generous support of our sponsors.


If your organization is interested in sponsorship you can learn more at http://gennext.wpengine.compay/.


Sponsorship Highlight (updated) - Q1 2015

Supplier Highlight

Supplier Highlight

Getting to know Automann


Jeev Khanduja, vice president

Mike Baker, regional sales manager (west coast)


Please briefly describe the history of Automann.

Automann USA is a family-owned business that was formed in 1994. The companies focus then remains the same today, to become a premier supplier to the heavy-duty aftermarket distributors.

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

Today, we manufacture a percentage of our product offering while at the same time working with world class factories to contract-manufacture the broad range of products we service to the aftermarket.   Our current customer range includes heavy-duty aftermarket distributors (distributors and spring shops), truck and trailer manufacturers and dealers.


What separates Automann from competitors in its marketplace?

The root of what separates us from our competition is our passion and desire for the business / industry. Our people’s passion and desire is the key ingredient.

How do you believe customers perceive your business?

I think our customers view us as an innovative, forward thinking and driven organization that continues to invest in product development to help the aftermarket distributor offer a wide product offering to their customer base.


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

We strive to meet and exceed our customers needs and expectations on an ongoing basis.  Our customers see that we continuously respond to their requests whether they are for new products, innovating website tools, wider product offering, displays for their show rooms, specialty packaging, etc., and that means a lot to them.  We become a relevant part of their business and we continuously strive to stay relevant in their day-to-day business.  Our customers know that we are just as concerned with their success as we are with ours.


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

I think that our customers would be surprised to know that we really focus on our people and their families.

What does Automann mean to the Khanduja family?

Automann started with a product offering of less than 100 part numbers in 1994, today we offer more than 18,000 part numbers. There is a tremendous sense of pride, accomplishment and responsibility that goes along with that, but only long enough to stay focused on the future.

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

Hahaha, this one is always tough to answer because there is no real downside to working in a family business as long as we are all united in the direction we are headed.  It’s extremely rewarding to work in a family business that fosters and supports growth and development in all aspects of the business.

What makes Automann a great place to work?

Environment; Our people enjoy and appreciate our full speed ahead style. They also know that their opinions and suggestions are always welcome and aren’t shy of sharing them.

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

Finding and bringing on young talent hasn’t been an easy task but we certainly have focused on it and are continuing to recruit the younger generations entering the workforce.  We recently landed a couple stand outs from the younger generations.  They were identified through networking with current employees and industry colleagues.  We are pairing them with seasoned veterans so the “old guard” can teach the new.  In turn we are seeing our “old guard” learning some new tricks of their own. It’s a great mix.


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

Yes certainly, our investment in technology is a core competency to our business.  Our website is the best reference tool our customers use on a daily basis and we continuously work to improve it.


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

I think the best piece of advice I can offer is to stay focused on building solid, honest relationships with the various industry professionals.

What are your goals for the long-term future of Automann?

To continue our efforts to expand our presence in our markets, improve our product coverage and quality, and recruit the best people.

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

We believe strongly that our people remain our largest asset. Our participation in GenNext provides us the opportunity to better understand and network with todays, and certainly tomorrows, industry leaders.  I think GenNext can best help us with the sharing of information and opportunity to acquire the skill to communicate with the next generation.


Distributor Highlight

Distributor Highlight

Getting to know Midwest Wheel


John Minor, president and COO

Please briefly describe the history of Midwest Wheel.
Midwest Wheel has been serving the Midwestern marketplace for more than a century, and has been a distributor of trucking products for more than 35 years. We still specialize in areas that where common back in the day, for example, wheel end and suspension or everything attached to the undercarriage, but over time we developed a customer-driven distribution system that gave us room to grow. We’ve added products that our current customers were buying someplace else. Today, Midwest Wheel has several types of customers that we market to separately and share all of the services amongst them. We use the same delivery system, warehouse, inside and outside sales teams to service all markets. We have basically two major customer types sharing all we have to offer. Midwest Wheel buys from 270 Vendors and has more than 50,000 SKU’s in stock. We offer approximately 80 percent of products directly to all branches and the rest is cross-docked and distributed out of our main warehouse.

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

We sell everything but some collision/crash parts and engines. We have products in stock for all other aspects of a Class 6-8 truck.

What separates Midwest Wheel from competitors in its marketplace?

Our distribution system.

How do you believe customers perceive your business?

We think customers view us as a complete supplier enabling them to reduce their supplier base.

How and why have your customers stayed loyal for 100+ years?

Consistency in our business practice and our long term family of employees.

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

We are constantly working on communicating what Midwest Wheel is to our customers, stay tuned!!

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

I think the biggest pros and cons of working for a family company are not the same everywhere. Building a company is bigger than family, it is all about the support and succession that drive family held businesses.

What makes Midwest Wheel a great place to work?

Everyone owns a piece of the action. We have stability and a great team of veterans and newer team members stepping up every day. It becomes contagious.

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

The younger generation is the future. Everyone knows that. I think they want to be a part of something successful and if you show them and are excited about them they will be interested.

Do you feel Midwest Wheel is in the position to change with the times? If so, how?

We are constantly changing and developing new ideas, campaigns, continually trying to improve our services. I believe we are driven in all areas to growth and success for all team members.

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

This industry is as good as the people that are in it. My advice would be to do better than you ever thought you could do. It will pay off in any industry you chose.

What are your goals for the long-term future of Midwest Wheel?

Growth and opportunities. Develop a leading company that our team can say, “This is a great company I work for and I make it better every day”.

Why did Midwest Wheel join GenNext? How can GenNext help Midwest Wheel’ employees?

Simple. GenNext is our future.

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

I/we owe a lot to our past, I would miss somebody by starting to names people that influenced me. So many great people and companies!