Getting to know Dayton Parts
Walt Sherbourne, vice president of Marketing
Please briefly describe the history of Dayton Parts?
Dayton Parts is gratified to be celebrating over 95 years of servicing our customers with products which are built around Quality is our Standard, Service is our business. The product portfolio offered by Dayton Parts continues to evolve based on the demands of our customer base.
A brief history of Dayton Parts:
1922: Harrisburg Stanley Springs was formed by a group of investors who constructed a building in Harrisburg to manufacturer leaf springs.
1927: Benjamin Franklin Baker was installed as President and General Manager in an effort to make the operation profitable.
1934: Unfortunately, the depression of the 1920s and early 30s forced the corporation into bankruptcy.
1935: Frank and Rhoda Barker formed a new corporation and Stanley Spring Works, Inc. was created. After WWII, the federal government had a tremendous surplus of leaf springs. Barker purchased thousands of tons of this surplus, which he resold and enabled the business to invest in new equipment.
1954: Angelo Paioletti was promoted to vice president and joined Barker and changed Stanley Spring Works marketing strategy from selling primarily to the automotive parts houses to selling exclusively to spring service shops and export markets. This change was highly successful and provided growing recognition in the industry. Stanley Springs works expanded their reach to include the Deep South and west of the Mississippi River.
1964: Proved to be a significant change for the company. Frank Barker sold his controlling interest in the business to five of his employees: Angelo Paioletti, Edwin Musser, Charles Orris, Charles Haring and John Stengel. Under their leadership, Stanley Spring Works quickly reached the position of second in the country for replacement leaf springs sales and first in quality. Manufacturing expansion continued through 1974.
1981: Stanley Spring Works was sold to TRW and created TRW Heavy Duty Parts. This new company brought additional products in undercarriage to add to their existing Stanley Spring Works product portfolio.
1988: Dayton Parts, Inc., was formed when TRW Sold to Varity Corporation. Varity Corporation combined TRW Heavy Duty and Dayton Walther’s aftermarket to from Dayton Parts, Inc.
1992: JPE acquired Dayton Parts, Inc.
1997: Dayton Parts, Inc., acquired Brake, Axle, and Tandem Company (BATCO) who was the industry leader in foundation air brake and wheel attaching components.
1999: ASC Holdings, LLC, an investment group acquired the controlling interest in JPE, Inc.
2003: Dayton Parts, LLC, was formed. The executive management team and Gen Cap of America became financials partners and acquired the business from ASC Holdings, LLC
2006: The executive management team recapitalized the business with Capital Partners and continued to focus on high service levels for the light-, medium-, and heavy-duty independent aftermarket segments.
2007: Dayton Parts, LLC, acquired S&G Enterprises and Merion Spring Company (a subsidiary of S&G).
2012: Executive management team partnered with AEA Investors, LP to purchase Dayton Parts, LLC, to continue and expand the growth of Dayton Parts, LLC. Dayton Parts, LLC shortly after the partnership with AEA Investors acquired Dallas Spring/Eagle Suspensions. Dallas Spring is a leading distributor of springs and suspension components service the heavy-duty aftermarket and Eagle Suspension is a leading manufacturer of leaf springs to some of the most respected truck, trailer, and suspension systems builders in the world.
Please briefly describe your company’s sales structure: What do you sell, who are your customers, etc.?
Dayton Parts has factory trained representatives covering the U.S., Canada and export markets. The company’s sales are made up of 90 percent to the independent distributors, spring shops and national accounts. The other 10 percent centers around OEMs. Products offered in our portfolio span undercarriage and drivetrain components from Air Systems, Air Disc & Brake components, Clutch, Driveline, Steering, Suspension, Springs, and Wheel End to name a few.
What separates Dayton Parts from competitors in its marketplace?
Dayton Parts stands out from our competition with service, high order fill and quality of products sold. We live up to “Quality is our Standard, Service is our Business. Customer tell us we find solutions to their issues when our competitors fall short.
How do you believe customers perceive your business?
Dayton Parts is perceived by our customers as a company which cares and works alongside our customers to assist them in providing solutions for the end user. They feel Dayton is a partner and not just a company. Our brand stands for quality and this is shown by other customers telling their peers about Dayton Parts.
How and why do your customers stay loyal to your business?
Customers stay loyal to Dayton Parts since they feel we are a partner working alongside them to provide quality products to their customers at a competitive price. We provide high order fill and continue to bring new products to market even in product areas Dayton Parts has not been known for. Example of two recent additions are the GEN2 WI-FI Anti-lock brake ECU, which allows the mechanic to use their smart phone or tablet to diagnose their trailer faults. The first company to provide a complete solution for Air Disc Brake for calipers, rotors, and pads.
What is one thing most customers/suppliers don’t know about Dayton Parts that would surprise/impress them? (i.e., tell us something about Dayton Parts we don’t know)
Dayton Parts marketing and product management team consists of only seven people, so the amount of product development and marketing is done very efficiently and effectively.
What makes Dayton Parts a great place to work?
Dayton Parts is a great place to work because of three major traits:
- Treat our employees as family.
- Listens to our employees’ ideas regardless of seniority. Leadership believes every employee has a voice and they are striving to improve every aspect of the company.
- Dayton Parts concern for what the employee wants to do next in their career so training and education programs can be provided. Dayton Parts wants to make sure they are ready when the opportunity comes.
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 vital for Dayton Parts to bring in younger employees so Dayton Parts is sustainable well into the future. The younger generation is motivated to succeed and they have an entrepreneurial spirit. The younger generation brings a different perspective and ideas to improve the company overall. They challenge every aspect of our business. They have the ability to adapt more quickly to the changing demands of our customers from a technology standpoint. Dayton Parts recruits the younger generation by using interns and recently started to attend job fairs put on by local organization and colleges.
Does Dayton Parts feel it is in the position to change with the times? If so how?
Dayton Parts is in the forefront of change. We continue to transform our company by embracing technology, searching for ways to speed up our response time, and we continue to run the company as if we are entrepreneurs. Not only are we embracing the way orders are placed but we have embraced how catalogs and literature is starting to be delivered to the customer base. Consumers are looking for ways to look up parts faster. Some examples of how Dayton Parts has been in the forefront of change. Dayton Parts has adapted was to create DP Everywhere—an app which allows the customer to have all our catalogs and product bulletins at their fingertips. The app also provides access to our website if they have an internet connection. The second is the new GEN2 product. This Wi-Fi-enabled ECU allows the fleet to know what is wrong and order the parts before the vehicle is back in the shop. Lastly, the leadership team understands we need to make decisions quickly and we may not have the time to review every aspect we should have before making the decision. If we don’t have all the information we will make the best decision possible as we understand time is driving our business today. There is no time to compile all the information.
Do you have any advice for the next generation, as they work in this industry?
Looking back on my career I would advise the younger generation with the same advice I was given when I started my career. Embrace the opportunity you’re given and work harder than others. Keep your word and do what you say. Build relationships with your internal and external customers, i.e. develop your network. No matter who you come in contact with at your customer acknowledge them; you never know when they maybe making the business decisions. Express your view point respectively and lastly take initiative to learn and gain knowledge from your peers.
What are the long-term future of Dayton Parts in the heavy-duty aftermarket?
The long-term goals are to build on the 95-year history by enhancing our current portfolio of products, adding new products, and continue to be in the forefront of the changing times we continue to provide solutions to our customers.
Why did Dayton Parts join GenNext?
Dayton Parts supports GenNext for a couple of reasons. We need to support getting the younger generation involved in our industry. GenNext provides this forum to assist in generating interest and transferring knowledge to the future generation of leaders.
How can GenNext help Dayton Parts’ employees?
By continuing to support training of our younger generation of employees from product to business topics and provide opportunities for them to meet others in the industry for networking.
What are the three most pivotal moments in your career that you either learned from and/or that got you where you are?
My three most pivotal moments were when I left the first company I worked for out of college and went to a company which was predominately an OEM supplier. The second moment was when I was asked to develop the aftermarket in Russia. With lots of questions and concerns, especially not speaking the language; how was I going to be successful? The third pivotal moment was leaving a company after 20 years where I was enjoying my job and customers and being offered the position of vice president of marketing where I had no experience. While every decision is always a hard one with questions and concerns, I have learned stepping outside of your comfort zone is rewarding.
Are there any industry leaders that have influenced you/mentored you? Who were they and how has their knowledge assisted you?
Over the years there have been many managers, colleagues, and customers who have provided me the leadership and guidance to develop me into who I have become. These individuals went out of their way to provide me guidance and showed me what it takes to become not only a leader but a strong person. I could ask any question or bounce any idea off them and they would provide feedback. There was nothing off limits. These four individuals would challenge me to see how I would react knowing they were pushing the boundaries of what I could do. They allowed me to provide a solution which may not be exactly what they wanted but again they wanted to see how I handle the situation. Every time I had the privilege to talk or even interact with them they always had the time. The individuals that helped develop me into the person I am today beside my father who worked in the automotive industry are Rick Grimm, Dan Hopgood, John Minor and Richard Spitzke.