Monthly Archives: April 2017

Education Update

Education Update

Education Update

By Adam Diecks, GenNext HD Education Chair

GenNext HD is currently working on finalizing the schedule for a series of training webinars that will cover topics such as business strategy, leadership, sales, profitability and marketing. The details of our webinar training series will be sent to the members as soon as they are confirmed.

Mentorship Update

Mentorship Update

Mentorship Update

By Nick Seidel, GenNext HD Mentorship Chair

GenNext HD is excited to announce we will be hosting our second Speed Mentoring session at HDA Truck Pride’s Annual Meeting next month in Orlando. The Speed Mentoring was a huge success at the VIPAR Heavy Duty Annual Business Conference last year in Orlando and we look to duplicate the experience with HDA Truck Pride.

The mentoring session will feature 20 industry mentors, and is scheduled for 4 to 6 p.m. EST on Wednesday, May 3.

Recruitment Update

Recruitment Update

Recruitment Update

By Nikki Paschall, GenNext HD Recruitment Chair


It’s been a busy first quarter for GenNext HD! We had wonderful networking time during HDAW in Las Vegas and recently completed another successful Distributor Training Expo. We will begin May at the HDA Truck Pride Annual Meeting with a Speed Mentoring event featuring 20 industry mentors and a group of GenNexter mentees rotating to each station. We’re excited for even deeper connections and recruitment with the next generation of commercial vehicle workforce.

Industry Update

Industry Update

Distributor Training Expo earns high marks yet again

The second annual GenNext HD and Commercial Vehicle Solutions Network (CVSN) Distributor Training Expo was held last weekend at the Hyatt Regency in Atlanta.

After hosting 150 distributor attendees and 14 suppliers last year, we bumped our attendance to 175 distributors and 23 suppliers this year. The event began with a reception and dinner on Friday evening, and concluded with lunch on Sunday. In between, distributor attendees participated in seven hour-long training sessions with Gold-sponsor suppliers, six 30-minute sessions with select Silver suppliers, a training lunch with their respective buying group and one hour of exclusive access to the exhibit floor.

In Sunday’s post-event survey, 95 percent of attendees viewed the event as very satisfying (64 percent) or somewhat satisfying (31 percent), and 82 percent said they were very likely to recommend the event to colleagues. An even higher number, 87 percent, said they would attend again, with 12 percent saying “maybe” they would consider it, depending on various factors.

Individual aspects of the event were appreciated as well. The one-hour Gold training sessions posted an 89 percent approval rating (40 percent excellent, 49 percent good) and the 30-minute Silver trainings had a 90 score (33 excellent, 57 good). The trade show netted an 88 percent approval score (40 excellent, 48 good), with 73 percent of attendees claiming their time allowed on the floor was “just right.”

Overall, both suppliers (91 percent) and distributors (84 percent) said they would like to see more attendees in future years.

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.