Monthly Archives: October 2019

Organizational Update

Organizational Update

GenNext names winners of second-annual 4 Under 40 Awards


Last month’s Commercial Vehicle Solutions Network (CVSN) Aftermarket Distribution Summit in Banff, Alberta, was the site of the second-annual presentation of the GenNext 4 Under 40 Awards.

Sponsored by Trucks, Parts, Service, the 4 Under 40 Awards were created to honor young aftermarket professionals for their enthusiasm, personal growth, corporate achievements and contributions to the independent heavy-duty aftermarket prior to age 40.


This year’s winners were Kate Diecks, eastern regional sales manager, Kit Masters; Sean Ryan, president and treasurer, Point Spring & Driveshaft; Megan Vincent, marketing manager, Phillips Industries; and Jerry Conroy, North American regional vice president, aftermarket sales, Bendix CVS.

The awards were presented by GenNext President Nick Seidel of Action Trucks and TPS Editor Lucas Deal.

Trucks, Parts, Service is thrilled to recognize these four professionals for their enthusiasm and commitment to the independent aftermarket industry,” says Deal. “All are incredibly deserving and serve as wonderful examples to motivate other GenNext members to get involved in our industry.”

For a complete conversation with each 2019 winner and their career in the independent aftermarket, please see


GenNext holds another quarterly webinar, prepares for upcoming events

GenNext also held its third-quarter webinar last month with Meritor’s Jay Urban and Justin McCoy presenting an informative update on air disc brakes and their rising acceptance in the commercial vehicle industry. The one-hour webinar focused on the history of the components, their slow at first but now advancing adoption in the OEM community due to their performance and safety benefits, and how those adoption rates will force changes within the aftermarket.

GenNext also recently announced its plan to hold an educational panel discussion for members at the upcoming VIPAR Heavy Duty Annual Business Conference and released the dates for its 2020 Distributor Training Expo.

GenNext says this month’s VIPAR Heavy Duty panel discussion will follow the formula introduced at last year’s annual business conference and used again successfully at HDA Truck Pride’s Annual Meeting earlier this year. GenNext says the event is scheduled for 5 p.m., Monday, Oct. 21 with panelists to be announced in the days leading up to the event.

The extremely popular and consistently growing Distributor Training Expo has been moved to from its prior April date on the schedule to Aug. 21-23, 2020. GenNext chose to move the date from its prior spring setting to reduce weather-related travel issues for distributors and, hopefully, expand the event’s overall size. GenNext had 200 distributor attendees and 25 supplier at the fourth annual event in April and earned a 94 percent approval rating among all attendees.

GenNext says next year’s event will again be held at the Hyatt Regency in Atlanta and registration information is scheduled to be released later this year.

Finally, GenNext and CVSN are excited to announce their new heavy-duty job board will soon be introduced to the independent aftermarket. The organizations developed the board to create a single repository in which all open positions within the independent aftermarket can be cataloged and searched.

Once live, CVSN and GenNext job board will enable suppliers, distributors, service providers and industry partners to post any open position they have within their businesses. Listings will be searchable by state, job title, job title and industry category. More information regarding the heavy-duty job board will be announced by CVSN and GenNext in the immediate future.

Supplier Highlight

Supplier Highlight

Getting to know Hendrickson


David McCleave, director of aftermarket at Hendrickson


Please briefly describe the history of your company.

Hendrickson is a leading global manufacturer and supplier of medium- and heavy-duty mechanical, elastomeric and air suspensions; integrated and non-integrated axle and brake systems; tire pressure control systems; auxiliary lift axle systems; parabolic and multi-leaf springs; stabilizers; bumpers; and components to the global commercial transportation industry. Hendrickson is a privately held company that is over 106 years old and has had the stability of only two owners. The Hendrickson family sold the business to John Boler in 1978 and the Boler family remains the sole owner of Hendrickson today. We are a global company with 28 locations worldwide and over 5,500 employees with corporate headquarters in Woodridge, Ill.


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

Hendrickson’s direct OEM customer base includes very familiar brand names to the industry.  Our truck OEMs include Daimler, Paccar (Kenworth and Peterbilt), Navistar, Mack, Volvo, Hino, Autocar and others where we sell steer suspension and axles, drive axle suspensions, bumpers, springs and lift axles. Our trailer OEMs include Utility, Great Dane, Wabash, MAC, Fontaine, Heil, Vanguard, Hyundai and many other trailer OEMs where we sell trailer suspensions, tire inflations systems, brakes and full wheel end solutions.


Our aftermarket customer base not only includes the above customers, but also includes national distributors such as Dayton Parts, Triangle, Universal Group, PAI, Meritor, UAP, Aurora Parts and Accessories, New Life, FleetPride, TruckPro, Traction, and a whole host of other regional independent distributors. We rely heavily on these aftermarket partners to ensure downstream component availability for the fleets that specify our systems on their new equipment. We support all of the above activity with over ten individuals who call on the OEM customer base along with more than 35 sales individuals in North America calling on dealers, fleets and distributors on why to choose Hendrickson. To technically support the vast amount of product in the market, we also employ over 15 field service managers in North America.


What separates your business from competitors in its marketplace?

The quality of our products and the level of support is what I believe sets us apart. Integrated with truck and/or trailer chassis, we design, model, lab test, and field validate all of our systems and components to OEM specifications to deliver the highest quality and world class performing products. Combine this with the high quality of field and in house support, and this is what I believe sets us apart. Uptime is a fleet’s No. 1 priority. Delivering products that perform and support them when required, is what helps Hendrickson remain an industry leader. Do what is right, and no issue goes unresolved, is how we approach the market and our customers.

How do you believe customers perceive your business?

I believe customers perceive our business in a very positive light. Serving the industry for over 106 years with high quality products and support takes a tremendous amount of energy. Our customers that were outlined above and fleet customers, continuously push us to meet their demands and exceed their expectations. If we don’t, there are alternatives. It is with their support of Hendrickson that drives our passion. Obviously, there are things to work on and improve, and our customers remind us of those items to ensure we don’t reach complacency.


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

Customer loyalty is something you can lose with a push of a button, but you cannot earn it with a push of a button. Customer loyalty is grown and nurtured throughout a long period of time by delivering quality products and services, maintaining discipline in your processes and various strategies, cultivating relationships, and doing what you say you are going to do. I believe this is how and why we have been fortunate to have earned and maintained such loyalty.  Do what is right, and never leave an issue unresolved.


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)

We are United States centric. We manufacture our trailer axles, trailer suspensions, truck suspensions, auxiliary axle suspensions, and bumpers, right here in the United States and we are extremely proud to do so. The plants that we have in China, India, and throughout Europe, are used to support those local markets and those products do not come here to be used in North America. We essentially want to manufacture where we sell and support local economies and communities.


What makes your company a great place to work?

The people make Hendrickson a great place to work. We put the customer first and everyone is eager to help. Whether it is from Sales, Engineering, Operations, Manufacturing, Marketing, etc. Hendrickson is a family-owned business and the culture reflects family values, ethics and morals.  Hendrickson invests in technology, buildings, equipment, systems, and most importantly, their people.


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 always important to attract and retain younger talent. Hendrickson prides itself on product and process innovation to deliver high quality products and products that will provide solutions to fleet user issues. To do just that, you need a continuous influx of younger talent that brings new ideas for products, processes and the use of technology. Recruiting the younger generation means Hendrickson’s HR department had to make changes in the tools they use to reach and communicate with these individuals. Hendrickson also made changes in benefits to match younger generation needs and values to improve our ability to capture these talented individuals.


Does your business feel it is in the position to change with the times? If so how?

Hendrickson continues to benchmark companies inside and outside our industry to ensure our benefit package and salaries are competitive. Hendrickson also benchmarks competitive product and strategies. Lastly, Hendrickson has business unit called Advance Technology Group. Benchmarking for best practices, products, and strategies, ensuring a competitive and exciting place to work, and developing new technologies and innovative products, supported by the Boler family investments in Hendrickson, positions Hendrickson well for change. These elements not only position Hendrickson to change with the times, but to also lead change in the industry.


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

My advice is to look for companies where people enjoy working and carries a strong brand and legacy. Seek out companies that have a strong position in their market space. The heavy-duty industry is an industry where relationships still matter and is filled with great companies with strong brands — from suppliers to local distributors. The heavy-duty industry needs talented individuals to lead change and take on challenges that truly affect trucking fleets that only make money when equipment is running. Your actions have a bottom line impact in this industry — be a part of innovative solutions and make a daily difference.


Why did your company join GenNext? How can GenNext help your employees?

GenNext provides a forum where ideas can be shared, plain and simple. We all have a responsibility to leave what we started or got involved in, in a better position than when we started. This includes the specific job, company, and industry we all live and work within. GenNext provides the platform to provide and garner knowledge to deliver on that responsibility.


What are the three most pivotal moments in your career that you either learned from and/or that got you where you are?

The first pivotal moment started with my first job in high school. I told my boss I didn’t want to go to college. He told me he would fire me if I didn’t go to college. That was easy, I went to college. The second pivotal moment was 10 years into my company and career after college. I noticed people gaining opportunities and I mine were limited. I looked to see what they had and I didn’t.  They all had their MBA degree. That was easy, I went and obtained my MBA degree, which led to a large opportunity for me. It brought me to Hendrickson and the heavy-duty industry. The third pivotal moment is not really third or any one moment. I moved my family around during my career and that led to many sacrifices. I will tell you that I would not be where I am today without the unwavering support of my wife and son. My family provides the critical pivotal moments for me to succeed.


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

I have been very fortunate to have been influenced by a number of industry leaders. The list is numerous and would be unfair to any individual I would inadvertently omit if I started to list those folks. I continue to have the opportunities to be exposed and influenced by industry leaders and colleagues that include business owners, CEOs, product managers, engineers, fleet directors, etc. This diverse exposure and network provided me the knowledge and direction to be able to speak, develop strategies, and carry of view that is holistic vs. myopic.

Distributor Highlight

Distributor Highlight

Getting to know Total Truck Parts


Marc Karon, President at Total Truck Parts


Please briefly describe the history of your business.

I started the business in 1979 after ten years with Bendix as an engineer and business development analyst. I left because I felt that corporate America was too concerned about taking risks with respect to new business. The penalties for missing your financial plan were disproportionate to the benefits to exceeding your target. I felt that I could do better and wanted the chance, so I started the business from scratch.


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

Our customer base is composed of those fleets who can understand that lower cost does not always equal better value. We sell the top brands who are generally used on the new truck. We do not substitute or offer will-fit product. Each branch operates as an individual business unit with slight differences in marketing and sales. Although administrative functions are centralized, we try to make sure each branch can appeal to the nuances of their customer base including brands and pricing.


What separates your business from competitors in its marketplace?

We focus on the customer. We look at all the transactions like credit, stocking and brands. We try to provide a business environment which is superior to all of our competitors. Customers can choose the brands they want, maybe pay a little later than required by competition and we stock parts they use without concern for metrics like inventory turnover. In return, we generally charge a little more than our competition.


How do you believe customers perceive your business?

We want to be perceived as the easiest and best company to do business with. I use the scenario that a customer needs something at 4:45 p.m. We want to be the company he calls.


How and why have your customers stayed loyal to your business?

We follow through with what I have written above. We also put a lot of importance on employee retention. We have very little turnover. We strongly believe in the importance of a strong customer relationship and communicate that business with us is a strategic decision.


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)

There is very little our suppliers do not know about us because we make an effort to communicate with all of our key suppliers. One of the things they may not know is that my retirement is not going to happen. I love my work and plan to continue as long as possible. In addition, we have a strong succession team to gradually take over as we implement an ESOP.


What makes your business a great place to work?

There are many things. That make our company a great place to work. We treat our employees very well with higher than average wages in our market and superior benefits. We also do a lot of special things for our employees and their families. Every employee is paid for any time lost due to storms. We deal with every challenge with unique solutions. Our employees act as a family. There are many stories I can share, but not in this space.


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

I think it is important to add younger talent. But they have to be the right kinds of people to fit in. Our efforts have been somewhat successful, but many young people do not relate well to the family approach. This has been challenging for us. In the past three years, we have hired five millennials. We have two now. The two we have are exceptional, and already making contributions. We will continue to hire young talent even when positions are not yet open. We are able to carry a few extra people and finding good talent is very important.


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

Obviously, technology has mandated us to change some practices. But I do not believe we need to go away from our basic business philosophy. There are those who say relationships are not that important. I do not agree. There are those who chase cost to tray and be the lowest price. That is not us. We continually work on our brand. I believe brand will be what is most important in the future as long as you can show your brand.


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

Find a job that can be challenging and fun. As they say, if you really enjoy what you do, you never have to work a day in your life. Chose an employer who is open to hearing your ideas and willing to give you a change to succeed and fail. Make sure you have a boss and company who is really interested in all that you can bring to the party.


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

My immediate goal is to implement the ESOP. Seeing the business grow beyond where it is today is a goal that I am most excited about. We also are looking for acquisition is shops.  Shops are the most profitable business segment.


Why did your company join GenNext? How can GenNext help your employees?

I think the training is exactly what the industry needs and GenNext is focused on that element.


What are the three most pivotal moments in your career that you either learned from and/or that got you where you are?

Obviously, the TransCom fiasco was the most pivotal. But what you may not know is that it was a positive experience. I lost $7 million in the bankruptcy, but it taught me so much about myself. Some say you have to face the abyss to appreciate the success of recovery. When I saw what TransCom was doing to my business and my employees, it motivated me to get the business back. I used every asset I had and borrowed enough to make the transaction. Using TransCom as a model of what not to do, I learned quickly how to build a successful business.  I gained self-confidence and grew the business while having a lot of fun


The next pivotal moment was when Ken Duval and I were able to negotiate adding CVSN as an owner of HDAW.  This showed me that I could actually make a difference if I applied myself.


Finally, working with Dave Scheer, we were able to get Massachusetts pass the Right to Repair Act.  Making a difference is the greatest joy I have experienced in my career. Whether in my business or in our industry, giving of yourself and creating change is the best feeling.  I just wish more of my peers learned this.


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

I have always believed that I was the dumbest person in our industry. As a result, whenever I was with other business owners at industry events, DACs or social occasions, I would ask many questions. “How did you do this and why do you do that?” There are hundreds of stories I have heard and I have adapted many of them to my business and it has helped me be more successful. There are too many to list. Suffice it to say that our industry is filled with great people with a wealth of knowledge and a willingness to share with anyone.