Getting to know Illinois Auto Truck Co., Inc.
Jordan Stein, vice president, sales and marketing
Please briefly describe the history of your company? (a quick summary is fine)
Illinois Auto Truck Co., Inc. (IATCO) has been in business since 1939 and focuses exclusively on the manufacturing of new clutch assemblies, clutch components, supplemental clutch parts and flywheels for Class 6-8 vehicles. IATCO is a fourth generation, family owned, ISO 9001:2015 certified company, dedicated to quality and customer support. IATCO is known throughout the world as “best in the clutch.”
Please briefly describe your company’s sales structure: What do you sell, who are your customers, etc.?
Illinois Auto Truck manufactures and sells new clutch assemblies, clutch components, supplemental clutch parts and flywheels for Class 6-8 vehicles. IATCO sells through various channels including the wholesale and independent distributor. IATCO is also the preferred new clutch supplier for VIPAR Heavy Duty and Power Heavy Duty.
What separates your business from competitors in its marketplace?
Quality and customer support is of the upmost importance to Illinois Auto Truck and has always separated us from others in the marketplace. We strive to differentiate ourselves from our competitors by continuously focusing on quality and offering the largest breadth of coverage both nationally and internationally. IATCO offers various types of support for our customers so that they in-turn can be successful promoting our product in their market. This includes ride-a-longs, technical clutch presentations, and hands-on clutch installation clinics.
How do you believe customers perceive your business?
We believe customers perceive Illinois Auto Truck as a multi-generational, loyal, and successful company that provides the offerings of a larger business, with the level of support you would only find from a smaller company. They know the quality of our product matches the attention to detail and support provided by our customer service.
How and why do your customers stay loyal to your business?
In this evolving marketplace, our customers continue to stay loyal to Illinois Auto Truck because they know that we are committed to quality, which is evident by the fact that we continue to manufacture in the USA, where we have for over 79 years. Furthermore, we exude respect for our customers and are always appreciative of their business. A “thank you” goes a long way.
What is one thing most customers/suppliers don’t know about your company that would surprise/impress them? (i.e., tell us something about your company we don’t know)
One thing most customers may not necessarily know about our business is that our average tenure internally, both in the front office and factory, is more than 12 years. As much as we have respect and our thankful for our clients, we feel the same way about our employees. Furthermore, we do in fact manufacture our product proudly in the USA.
What makes your company a great place to work?
Illinois Auto Truck is a great place to work because no matter what your role may be, you are most certainly contributing and making a difference each day in the success of our business. As a fourth generation, family owned business, our ownership is extremely involved and dedicated to the continued success and overall growth of IATCO. Furthermore, with business and customers both nationally and internationally, there is an exciting culture around what we do.
How vital is it to have quality employees entering your business from younger generations, and how are you trying to recruit these younger professionals?
As we look to the future of Illinois Auto Truck, we know how important it is to have quality employees of a younger generation. These individuals bring fresh ideas for everything from marketing sales presentations, to customer service management software, and even quality control in our factories. Some of our greatest success in finding these next generation individuals has been from recruiting employees outside of the industry. They bring an exciting, new perspective to this field.
Does your business feel it is in the position to change with the times? If so how?
Illinois Auto Truck is definitely in a position to change with the times as we are constantly looking to develop new product and spark innovation both in the front-office and factory that will lead to customer retention and growth.
Do you have any advice for the next generation, as they work in this industry?
I would encourage the next generation of job-seeking individuals to most certainly consider a job in this industry. Not only is it an exciting industry to be in, but there is a lot of opportunity for growth in every aspect of the business, including manufacturing, innovation and management.
Why did your company join GenNext? How can GenNext help your employees?
We joined GenNext for the opportunity to build relationships and create networks with like-minded individuals who are interested in taking their business to the next level. Furthermore, we believe this group can benefit our employees by allowing us to share ideas and connect with one another for support. It is incredibly important to keep our industry alive and I firmly believe that having groups like this will make that possible.
What are the three most pivotal moments in your career that you either learned from and/or that got you where you are?
There have been several pivotal moments throughout my career but these are the ones that stand out. We lost a customer a few years ago due to them wanting a “cheaper” product. We told the customer that we weren’t able to offer a cheaper product as we value the quality that we put in the box and were not willing to compromise that. In that scenario, I learned we cannot be a supplier to everyone and we cannot succumb to the pressure of being the low-cost provider. We have to be proud of what we put into the market and confident in the product that we produce.
Another pivotal moment in my career was when I first joined the company back in 2008. I traveled with my father on a six week, around the world, business trip. I quickly learned how important it is to be in front of our customers and understood first-hand the sacrifices my father made, including time away from our family, to grow the company to where it is today. In that moment I knew what was in store for my career, in terms of travel, and accepted that in order to achieve my goals in the future, time away from my wife and children would be necessary.
The third most pivotal moment in my career was when our general manager retired last September. He was a mentor to me for my first nine years in the business and was always a present force that I could turn to. His leaving offered an opportunity for me to help lead our company through a very significant change, and also allowed me to think about what kind of new leader would be best for us. I am happy to say that these were all good changes that will have an extremely positive influence on the direction of IATCO moving forward.
Are there any industry leaders that have influenced you/mentored you? Who were they and how has their knowledge assisted you?
My father, Richard Stein has been in the business for 44 years and has shown me the way throughout all aspects of the industry. Learning how he has successfully run and grown the business throughout his tenure has been invaluable. I now strive to take pieces of what he has done and use them to expand and evolve our business into the future.