Monthly Archives: July 2015

Education Update

Education Update

By Jason Kraus, GenNext HD Education Chair

On May 14th, Peter Palmer from Dale Carnegie Digital Training presented a “Getting Results without Authority” webinar to GenNext members. Palmer discussed the skills you need to have and actions you need to take to acquire maximum results from people who don’t work directly for you.

Our next webinar is scheduled for 11 a.m. to 12 pm. EDT on Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2015. The topic will be sales leadership. Please be on the lookout for more information in the next couple of weeks.

As previously announced GenNext also is excited to offer the addition of GenNext University to our website. GenNext University is designed to be a central repository of educational content to help develop the skills and abilities of our members. This enhancement to the website is now LIVE and can be found by:

1)    Visiting

2)    Click on the ‘GenNext University’ tab.

3)    Enter the password:      MyFuture

This feature currently contains four of our most recent webinars as presented by Keynote Speakers such as Jim Pancero, David Wheatley and Nancy Friedman and Peter Palmer.  If you were not able to attend one or more of these webinars live in the past or would like to listen to them again, please feel free to log into GenNext University to view them today.

If you have any suggestions for topics or speakers, please contact Jason Kraus.


Industry Update

Industry Update

A chat with Steve Crowley, president and CEO at VIPAR Heavy Duty


Steve Crowley knows his business has been lucky. Hiring new people in business today — especially in the independent heavy-duty aftermarket — is not a sure thing.

So for VIPAR Heavy Duty, which Crowley leads as president and CEO, to find motivated young professionals as talented and capable as its most recent hires has had a very positive impact on the organization.

It’s something he’s been looking back on a lot recently when thinking about the aftermarket’s growing employee shortage.

“It’s the biggest issue everyone is facing today — how to attract, hire and retain good young talent,” Crowley says. “We’ve been fortunate in that area but I know a lot of others haven’t [had the same level of success].

“As an industry, we have to do something about that.”

The reason is obvious, Crowley says. The aftermarket is filled with great people, but it is also all aging. Look out over the audience at an industry event and you won’t see many twentysomethings.

The independent aftermarket is an industry closing in on retirement.

Crowley says the industry’s best hope to combat that is bringing in young talent today to fill openings tomorrow. While most college students aren’t clamoring to sell truck parts, Crowley says the aftermarket does have one key advantage over other industries recruiting young people: there are actually jobs available here.

If only those underemployed graduate students knew about them.

“We have to find a way to make this business more attractive than it is to younger generations,” Crowley says. “We have to show them there is a career here.”

Both Crowley and VIPAR Heavy Duty Director of Marketing Jeff Paul believe one great way to do that is by showcasing the true scope of jobs the aftermarket has to offer. Working in the trucking industry just doesn’t mean driving or fixing trucks, and Crowley says college students and young professionals have to know that.

That’s something VIPAR Heavy Duty has focused on specifically when hiring out of college. Crowley says each of the company’s recent college hires have worked in all areas of the business from the outset.

He says that was intentional. By not immediately pigeonholing each new employee into a role based on their diploma or the company’s needs, he says the trio was able to grow comfortable at VIPAR Heavy Duty and in the aftermarket before they were asked to specialize in one role.

By that time, adds Paul, the group was committed to the industry and wanted to stay. They also had gravitated to the each position, making their transition seamless.

Crowley ponders if that’s a strategy other operations also could use in the aftermarket.

“I don’t think you can just bring young people into any random position,” he says. “I think the best tactic is to find really good athletes and let them try everything.

“Take a few jobs and blend them,” he says. “Then separate them back out later when you see the skill set of each person and its clear where they should be.”

As for recruiting, Crowley says aftermarket businesses have to be willing to go back to the well.

“If you hire one young person and they do well, you can ask ‘Do you have any classmates, fraternity brothers or sorority sisters, who also might be looking for a job?’

“You just have to get those first few through the door.”

The one thing the aftermarket simply can’t do, Crowley says, is poach from each other. Swiping a manager from a rival business fills an immediate need, but it doesn’t strengthen the industry for the long run.

“The tough part is when one distributor hires a guy from another distributor so then that second distributor has to go poach a manager from another place, and on and on it goes,” he says. “For an industry like ours, that’s just like rotating the tires.”


Mentorship Update

Mentorship Update

By Edward Kuo, GenNext HD Mentorship Chair

Now that we are entering the third quarter of 2015, the GenNext Mentorship Committee just announced the second set of mentor-mentee relationships. This mid-year match resulted in nine members being matched with nine industry leaders.

Some of the earlier matches are starting to pay dividends. As one mentee stated, “I believe the mentoring program offers an excellent chance for me to grow my knowledge of the industry and enhance my networking circle.”

The committee’s next steps will be to start documenting some of the key successes that have come from the different relationships. GenNext will continue to collect requests for the mentorship program and will have the next set of pairings ready in January 2016, prior to HDAW.

Recruitment Update

Recruitment Update

By Steve Hansen, GenNext HD President


We were incredibly successful earlier this year in bringing 10 students from Northwood University to HDAW. We are now starting to plan our second round of students for HDAW 2016. The students will submit applications to join us at HDAW 2016 in Las Vegas. Among the criteria for the students to be selected includes their GPA, graduation date, and a written essay.

The 2015 post-show reviews from the students and the other attendees were incredible and we are excited to keep this going. The success was also evident with at least two students receiving an internship or job offer that week and all 10 leaning towards a career in the heavy-duty aftermarket.

Sponsorship Highlight

Sponsorship Highlight

By Bill Betts, GenNext HD Mentorship Chair

Our membership continues to increase, as GenNext has grown to 266 registered members. We look forward to continuing to build our member network the second half of 2015!

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://gennexthd.compay/.


Sponsorship Highlight (updated) - Q1 2015

Supplier Highlight

Supplier Highlight

Getting to Know Meritor


By Marty Hetherington, brand and marketing manager, Aftermarket at Meritor


Please briefly describe the history of Meritor.

With more than 100 years in the North American market, Meritor’s history is expansive. The best way to learn everything is here:

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

Meritor, Inc. is a global supplier of a broad portfolio of axle, brake and suspension solutions to original equipment manufacturers and the aftermarket for the transportation and industrial sectors. We serve commercial truck, trailer, bus and coach and off-highway vehicle manufacturers, in addition to defense contractors. We marked our centennial anniversary in 2009.
Meritor Aftermarket supplies replacement parts for truck, trailers, buses and vans around the world under a number of industry-leading brand names:

• North America: Meritor, Euclid and Meritor WABCO
• Europe: Meritor, Trucktechnic
• South America: Meritor
• Asia Pacific: Meritor and Euclid

Our direct customers are distributors and dealers with end users being ISG’s and owner-operators and fleets falling somewhere in-between — although we never sell directly to fleets. We normally push our programs to the distributors and dealers and also are initiating pull through strategies for the end users to make them aware of the Meritor brand and request the Meritor brand when they go to the Distributors or dealers for replacement parts and service. Brand awareness and selection is paramount to building a strong marketing and sales bond.

What separates Meritor Aftermarket from competitors in its marketplace?

Meritor offers a broad choice of OE-quality products for all customers along the extended truck life-cycle. The Meritor Aftermarket product series (Genuine, AllFit and Green) delivers a wide range of engineering-approved component choices at every price point to meet the life-cycle stages of any vehicle.

How do you believe customers perceive your business? 

Customers view Meritor Aftermarket as an extremely reliable partner delivering high-quality innovative products, technical expertise, training and online services allowing them to be more efficient and competitive in the marketplace.

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

Customers stay loyal to Meritor Aftermarket by telling us on a regular basis what their most demanding pain points are and offering candid feedback on how we can make improvements to our products and services in the marketplace. This is a fully transparent learning process that drives our strategy and product development direction. This level of trust and dependability is the basis for loyalty and we strive to make this happen daily.

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

Meritor is directly involved in Motorsports both in the U.S. and other markets globally. As a title sponsor in the U.S. for the Meritor ChampTruck World Series and primary sponsor of two NHRA race teams. Employees and customers really get excited to see these teams compete and get together for great experiences at most of the top race venues globally.

What makes Meritor a great place to work?

The people make Meritor a great place to work; everyone on the aftermarket team really strives to make a difference and has a strong commitment to customer service from the highest level on down. This intimate understanding of the marketplace and internal customer satisfaction makes all the difference in the world.

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

Our internship and cooperative education trainee programs offer current students a great start to success. Meritor is always looking for new and innovative thinking to help us develop solutions that will meet our customers’ ever-changing needs.
Meritor’s Emerging Leader Development Program (ELDP) is a two- to three-year, on-the-job development experience for ambitious college graduates. The program provides high-potential candidates with the opportunity to work on challenging assignments and interface with executive leadership. The program focuses on recent graduates with a BA, BS, BSME, BBA or MBA in Finance, Accounting, Supply Chain, Mechanical Engineering, Industrial and Operations Engineering or Lean Manufacturing.

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

Meritor Aftermarket is poised to continue to lead and innovate both now and in the future. Not only with high quality engineering-approved products but with creating customer service programs and platforms that will make everyday business easier for our aftermarket customer base and their end users. With the technology and data available in the industry it’s really a very exciting time to be part of an aftermarket leader such as Meritor and the future has unlimited possibilities.

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

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.

Be active in your conversations and don’t be afraid to express your opinions and breakthrough proposals that create change.

Even though we all get caught up with deadlines and project deadlines, always take one-half hour out of each day to just create ideas for those areas of your responsibility to move the business forward in a creative and more productive direction.

What are the goals for the long-term future of Meritor?

To listen, learn and lead as we move into the next generation of transportation.

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

Meritor joined GenNext because our future depends on the bright minds of the younger generation. This industry and our country as a whole will benefit greatly from the fresh new thinking and initiatives that are developed as a result.


Distributor Highlight

Distributor Highlight

Getting to Know Inland Truck Parts


By Greg Klein, President at Inland Truck Parts

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

Inland Truck Parts Company (Inland) was founded in Minneapolis, Minn. in 1944. Additional locations were added over the years through acquisitions or new store openings and there are now 28 store locations in addition to the dedicated training center and corporate office, both located in the Kansas City, Mo., area. Inland offers a wide range of parts and shop services to its customers, which now number in the tens of thousands across the vast Great Plains area it serves between Canada and Mexico.

What separates Inland Truck Parts from competitors in its marketplace?

Inland attempts to differentiate itself through its high level of knowledge and by delivering an exceptional customer experience. While the knowledge may seem like common sense, the customer experience is more difficult to explain. It includes the entire customer interaction with Inland employees, the delivery of our brand promise, and going above expectations. One of our mottos is ‘Products and Service You Can Rely On.’ We try to deliver on that promise every day.

How do you believe customers perceive your business?

Inland believes our customers understand the value of what we deliver to them. That belief is based on comments from our customers to us and to their long tenure with Inland as their parts and service provider.

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

Inland believes that the key to loyal customers is how they feel about the experience long after they have their part or vehicle back. Customer perceptions can be built in one experience or many, but the first impression is the most important. Leaving a bad first impression may preclude a second chance.

What are the pros and cons of working for an employee-owned business?

The pros are many with the most obvious being the fact that the employees feel they have a direct connection to the successes of the company since they own it. We don’t consider it to be a con per se but having more than 600 owners does create some pressure to perform well. It can create some lively discussions at times! It is through that deliberative process that Inland finds ways to innovate and change.

What makes Inland Truck Parts a great place to work?

The culture is one where the employees understand that the management at the top truly cares about each and every employee and their families. By treating all employees with respect and integrity, Inland has nurtured a culture where every employee feels important and feels they have something to contribute to the success of the company. Inland also invests heavily in providing a safe working environment with the goal that employees go home healthy to their families at night. That type of culture means something and is appreciated.
In addition to a positive working environment, employees today are looking for opportunities for advancement, exposure to the latest technologies, new facilities with state of the art tooling investments, and ongoing education/investing in their technical and soft skills. Inland invests a lot of money towards these goals.

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

It is very difficult to find qualified new employees, especially those with the type of experience needed in this industry. Inland attracts new talent through many channels. It takes many years to learn this industry so Inland looks for high-quality young people that can be trained to learn this industry. Younger professionals are needed to bring new ideas, stronger connections to technology, and fresh vision. We need those ‘new thinkers’ to continue to invent new ways to do business and raise the bar. Recruiting them is a challenge — how are we doing this?
Inland has invested heavily in a standalone training facility that allows both new and tenured employees the opportunity to grow their technical knowledge and skills.
As a result of the employee ownership culture and dedication to improving employee skills through training, Inland has a vast number of very long tenured employees. In fact, at least one employee reaches the 40-year-employment milestone at Inland each and every year, a feat rarely seen in these days of frequent job changes.

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

Inland has a long history of continually reinventing itself in an effort to stay at or near the leading edge of industry changes. Inland was among the first traditional independent parts suppliers to understand the importance of full truck service and pursue it in a big way. Today, 24 of Inland’s 28 locations offer truck service. That number was zero in 1995.
This will become repetitive but to change with the times you have to bring in new employees with new ideas, otherwise you become stale. When you hire good people and give them the training and the tools they need to succeed, they will push change through the organization. This can be uncomfortably for the old guard at times who may offer the tried and true response of “We have always done it this way with success, why do we have to change”? But in the end the new ideas that have merit will win out and become the new norm.

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

Don’t be afraid to challenge the status quo. Change is an inevitable constant. Push change and understand that it as an opportunity to separate yourself from your competitors. Standing in place is a sure recipe for finding yourself behind those that push change. As has been said many times, the only constant is change.

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

Inland plans to continue to grow and nurture the culture that exists today. Our employee owners will remain our most valuable asset. This new world is one where technology will drive innovation and customer solutions. If you want to attract the next generation of employees and customers, embrace technology and all the benefits that it brings. This industry has changed dramatically in the past 20 years. The next 20 will be even more dramatic.

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

Over the years many visionary leaders have influenced Inland. Many are still in the industry today. The list, both past and present, is too long to attempt at the risk of leaving someone out.
Where will the next visionaries come from? We need new blood, with new ideas, and new visions to help define the future of this industry, and keep it vibrant and relevant. Companies that employ that talent will stand out. They are out there, let’s go find them and help them lead our industry into the future.