Newsletter

Distributor Highlight

Distributor Highlight

Getting to know Potter Webster Company

Rich Calcagno, vice president and general manager

 

Please briefly describe the history of your business (a quick summary is fine).

Potter Webster Company was started in 1918. The Websters bought out the Potters in 1940 and we have been family owned since.

 

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

Our venders involve many areas; we are looked at as the one-stop shopping source. We have so many venders it is hard to name them all. The big ones are Meritor, Philips, Grote, Truck-Lite, Bendix, Dana, Neapco, Parker, Hutch, Dexter, Ecco and many others. We sell into many markets, including over-the-road, mining, off-highway, logging and construction. We also have divisions of the company that supply original manufacturers.

 

What separates your business from competitors in its marketplace?

Service. We believe service is the difference. We really try to make this the most important part of the equation.

 

How do you believe customers perceive your business?

I think most customers view our company as a solution-based company. We value that we are not going to be the cheapest but we have the experience and knowledge to solve their problems. Dennis Webster always preached we are “Nationally known and locally owned.” This really hits it home. We also like to say, “We are big enough to supply you but we are small enough to care about your needs.”

 

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

Customers stay loyal for many reasons — a few are we treat everyone as friends. It comes down to people sell people. We have a very long tenure here. We have teammates that have only worked here their entire life. Some more than 40 years. When our customers come in to our stores and see the same people year-in and year-out it really makes a difference to their trust. They know they can rely on great service with a fair price.

 

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)

What people don’t know is we are a family-owned third-generation business. Most of the leaders in our company started at the bottom and worked their way to the top. I started with the company cleaning toilets and sweeping the floors. We started in the industry selling fenders and generators, not in the trucking industry at all. We got into it by filling a need and seeing opportunities.

 

What makes your business a great place to work?

What makes our company a wonderful place to work? We have fun every day. We are very team-based organization. We also take our work very seriously. We are a family. Dennis has made it a point to support everyone in so many ways. We offer the best benefits we can along with profit sharing and a 401K.

 

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’s very important to have the best people possible. Most of the time we don’t hire because of what people know, we hire based off attitude and their ability to communicate and learn. We can teach this industry very well. It’s not rocket science. We usually try to promote from within our organization. We look to our warehouse as an area where, if those employees can do what is needed with a great attitude and good attendance, they have what it takes to move up.

 

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

I feel the business is going to change in so many ways. On one hand, the sales staff will have to be more computer savvy as time changes. We also are going to have to understand more about advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and other onboard computer systems. The trucks are changing so fast and have to keep up.

 

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

Learn as much as you can about the equipment as possible, but most importantly, listen and observe the old times. Do not discount their knowledge. They have seen so many changes to our industry and have adapted quite well.

 

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

We are in a growth mode here at Potter Webster. We are looking at opening several new opportunities in the next five years. We are hoping the economy will hold and that we may have a long stretch of growth. I can see in the next 10 years the industry will change dramatically. We will have to change with times and expand with new product lines and new locations. We are a third-generation company and we hope there is a forth to come.

 

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

We joined GenNext so we could be prepared for the future. To help us understand what we need to be prepared for in the coming years. We also joined to hopefully find channels to be able to find new talent.

 

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

I’ve learned to not be scared to take a risk. I look at risk as an opportunity to learn; either it is going to be good or bad. Either way you learn from it. Additionally, take time to make decisions but not too much time respond not react. Listen to your team. It’s really awesome to hear what their take on the business is — even the lowest guy on the totem pole has great ideas. I’ve always listened, watched and learned from the people I’ve worked for and I’ve learned from many of my managers as well. What to do, but most importantly, what not to do.

 

Are there any industry leaders that have influenced you/mentored you? Who were they and how has their knowledge assisted you?
Dennis Webster is by far the one man I’ve learned the most from. He’s been in this industry for 59 years and has a wealth of knowledge. Randy Luthe used to hold classes here at Potter Webster once a month. In the beginning I thought they were silly. But as time went on I started to use the classes he taught and continue to do so now. Finally, Andy Schmitz. He has not worked for us for very long but he has had so much to do with the growth and our new perspective here at Potter Webster.



Organizational Update

Organizational Update

Distributor Training Expo just one month away. Sign up today!

Only a few distributor spots remain for the 2019 GenNext and Commercial Vehicle Solutions Network (CVSN) Distributor Training Expo, scheduled for April 26-28, 2019, at the Hyatt Regency in Atlanta.

Now in its fourth year, this year’s DTE will continue the event’s record of providing, high-quality, valuable supplier-generated product information for independent aftermarket inside and outside sales associates.

The DTE also is an invaluable resource for independent operations to keep pace with their dealer and national chain competitors, both of which offer similar programs for their own locations.

“We need to train our people to keep up with these power groups. That’s why we built the Distributor Training Expo and that’s why we continue to expand it,” organizers say. “We want to educate the entire independent distribution channel.”

The event’s Gold Sponsors — who will provide four 40-minute classroom sessions and feature an expanded booth presence at the event — are Automann, Bendix, Eaton, Federal-Mogul Motorparts, Kit Masters, Meritor, Minimizer and Tectran. Silver-level sponsors will host two 40-minute training courses and also will be present during the event’s booth training periods. Silver sponsors are BBB Industries, BettsHD, BorgWarner-DelcoRemy, Dayton Parts, Dorman HD Solutions, Hendrickson, Illinois Auto Truck Co. Inc., PAI Industries, Phillips Industries, SKF, STEMCO, Timken, Triangle Suspension, Truck-Lite, Trux Accessories and WABCO.

DTE organizers say each sponsor will bring new and unique training materials to this year’s event. More than 90 percent of the training materials prepared for the event are new in 2019, and organizers add each supplier attending the event is eager to share its newest products and sales tools with the distributor audience.

This year’s DTE also will feature a keynote speaker for the second consecutive year.

Dr. Albert Bates, known throughout the aftermarket for his engaging presentations at other industry programs, will present “Not Just Sales, Profitable Sales,” a pointed presentation designed to educate distributor attendees on how to ensure every sale is a profitable sale.

The event registration fee for distributors is an-inclusive price of $549. This includes airfare to and from the event, hotel accommodations, shuttle service to and from the airport, all meals, the entire training program and all associated training materials provided during the event.

When compared to the alternative of no training at all, or the years it would take to receive the same amount of training through on-site supplier events, DTE organizers say the event should be a no brainer for every business in the aftermarket.

For more information, and to register for the event, please CLICK HERE.

GenNext announces new board of directors

In addition to its preparations for the upcoming Distributor Training Expo, GenNext also has made a number of changes to its board of directors in 2019.

The organization says new members to the board are Lucas Deal, Truck Parts & Service; Jenna McGrath, VIPAR Heavy Duty; Adam Pigeon, Royal Truck & Trailer; Nick Tosie, BorgWarner; Amber Warden, Tectran; CVSN Representative Sean Ryan, Point Spring & Driveshaft; and senior advisor Rob Phillips, Phillips Industries.

In making these changes, the organization says its outgoing board members are Cory Beeler, Wilson/BBB Industries; Steve Hansen Minimizer; Justin Miller, Heavy Duty Trucking; Jeff Paul, VIPAR Heavy Duty; and senior advisor David Willis, CRW Parts.

We thank our outgoing members for their support of GenNext and the independent aftermarket industry.

What comes after the DTE?

That’s a good question, because GenNext has even more big plans for the remainder of the year.

The biggest non-DTE initiative for GenNext in 2019 is its joint effort with CVSN to introduce an industry job board and release video designed to help recruit talent into the independent aftermarket. CVSN has been in production on the latter for nearly a year. When complete, CVSN and GenNext plan to nationally market their recruitment video in an effort to entice talented young professionals to consider a career in our industry.

GenNext also will host an industry reception at the 2019 HDA Truck Pride Annual Meeting next month in Orlando and is working to schedule more quarterly educational webinars for its members and introduce an aftermarket podcast series called “Next10.” The organization says it will notify its members of these latter projects as they are released.



GenNext to be busy at HDAW and throughout 2019

GenNext to be busy at HDAW and throughout 2019

It’s hard to believe that 2018 is almost over and Heavy Duty Aftermarket Week (HDAW) 2019 is right around the corner. GenNext will be very busy in Las Vegas, and we hope that you and others on your team will have an opportunity to stop by our GenNext Booth during trade show hours. We’d love for you to hear more about GenNext, find ways to get more involved and even pick up some fun GenNext-branded swag!
What else are we doing at HDAW?
GenNext is again a sponsor of the Leaders of Tomorrow (LOT) reception which will be held from 4:30-5:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 28 in the Mirage’s St. Croix A&B. GenNext also be hosting the annual No-Limit Hold‘em Poker Tournament at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 30 at the Mirage Poker Room. Instead of heading to another customer/vendor dinner, save that night to try to outwit your industry colleagues in a real poker tournament.
For more information and to buy in visit https://gennexthd.com/poker/.
This past October, GenNext hosted a successful In the Hot Seat Panel discussion at VIPAR Heavy Duty’s Annual Business Conference. We will be hosting a similar panel at the HDA Truck Pride Annual Meeting in April.

 

Registration open for fourth annual DTE

April is also going to be a busy month for both CVSN and GenNext as we once again team up to host the fourth annual Distributor Training Expo (DTE) in Atlanta from April 26-28. With three successful years behind us, we will continue with the same format for 2019, enabling 25 different vendors to train 200 distributor managers, counter personnel and outside salespeople over the course of the weekend. As an added benefit, Dr. Albert Bates will keynote the opening session.
We have always sold out this event, and last I checked, we only have one supplier spot open while the individual distributor slots were being reserved at a very rapid pace! Learn more and sign up at https://miregistration.net/gncvsndist/.
We also are in middle of our first ever GenNext Membership Drive. Please make sure you register all of the individuals in your company that hope to be part of the industry’s next generation, regardless of their current age. Don’t forget that all individuals at CVSN member companies have full membership access to GenNext with no additional cost. But they have to sign up at https://gennexthd.com/join/ .

 

Other 2019 projects

We have a ton of other projects we’re working on right now — all focused on educating, mentoring and recruiting. And we always need industry volunteers to further our cause. This includes:
• Our 2019 Q1 Education Webinar on Branding
• A CVSN/GenNext industry recruiting video
• Our “Next10” audio podcast series
• A job posting board on our GenNext website
• And much more!
Finally, and perhaps most importantly — have a happy and save holiday season! We hope you can take a few moments to reflect on the successes of the past year and the challenges that you face in the future. And know that we at CVSN and GenNext are here to help you navigate your company into a more profitable and successful market position.



Supplier Highlight

Supplier Highlight

Getting to know Truck-Lite

Jon Stineman, U.S. OEM sales director

Please briefly describe the history of your company?
Truck-Lite began in 1955 after George Baldwin created the first sealed marker lamp in his kitchen. His idea solved the problem of trailer lights not lasting very long and sparked a revolution in commercial lighting. Shortly thereafter, Truck-Lite released the first ever sealed stop, turn, and tail lamp. Since then, Truck-Lite has grown into a global company with over 3000 employees.

Please briefly describe your company’s sales structure: What do you sell, who are your customers, etc.?
Truck-Lite has a very well diversified customer portfolio. We sell a wide variety of products from the front of the truck to the back of the trailer directly to the OEMs and aftermarket distributors for the heavy-duty transportation industry. We also spend a significant amount of time in front of the fleet customers as well. This is very important to our success as we do our best to focus on supplying solutions to meet their needs. We sell our products in the automotive, agricultural, bus, mining, and off-road markets.

What separates your business from competitors in its marketplace?
Truck-Lite has a long history of industry firsts, and we are continuing on that tradition today by offering new products and innovative solutions to our customers. When you combine our innovation with the largest distribution network and largest direct sales force among our peers, we provide our customers with great value at a competitive price.

How do you believe customers perceive your business?
I believe our customers view Truck-Lite as a high-quality supplier with a passion for their customers.

How and why do your customers stay loyal to your business?
There are more options today than ever before in our line of work. I think our customers believe in our value, quality and overall service.

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)
Truck-Lite has really transformed into an electronics supplier driven by the success of the LED lamps. Now we are designing and manufacturing wireless sensor and trailer tracking devices under the brand name Road Ready.

What makes your company a great place to work?
The company has always had a commitment to growth and creating opportunities for their 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?
Our industry demographics are changing, and it’s imperative we change with it. The younger generation will bring new ideas which will help our business continue to grow.

Does your business feel it is in the position to change with the times? If so how?
Absolutely, we are opening a new office in 2019 near Southfield, Mich., to help us recruit more young employees.

Do you have any advice for the next generation, as they work in this industry?
My advice to the new generation of employees entering the workforce is to ask a lot of questions and to get to know the products. The best experience is truly understanding your products and how they interact with the vehicle and the surrounding environment.

What are the three most pivotal moments in your career that you either learned from and/or that got you where you are?
My pivotal moments have all been defined by taking advantage of opportunities that became available to me. The first moment was when I moved to Germany for Truck-Lite to become a commercial liaison between Truck-Lite Engineering and sales after a new acquisition. When I returned home to the U.S., I jumped into another new role which allowed me to further expand my knowledge of our products and services at Truck-Lite. We all spend a lot of time at work so we might as well enjoy it and take advantage of the opportunities it can create for you.

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 work with so many tremendously bright and successful people in all corners of this industry. I find it difficult to single out a few. If I had to pick only one, I would say Rod Ehrlich from Wabash National. I always admired Rod’s passion for the work and his approach to find new and better ways to create a product or to get the job done.