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.