Mahle Service Solutions, a division of Mahle Aftermarket Inc., held a virtual media roundtable on September 10, at which senior executives of the company’s newly minted aftermarket division laid out the company’s plans. Taking part were Mahle Service Solutions general manager Max Dull, head of marketing Ted Hughes, head of sales Terry Taylor and Jim Markle, manager of business development. The purpose of the virtual media event was to lay out the company’s aftermarket plans following the acquisition of RTI Technologies last year and to provide more detail on new product launches and the company’s presence at this year’s AAPEX.
“It’s been an interesting 18 months,” said Ted Hughes. “Before this year Mahle was among the top 30 largest automotive suppliers, but after the acquisition of Behr was completed last year, we’re now into the top 20.” For 2014, anticipated revenue is over US$13 billion, 90 per cent of it from the OE side, Hughes said.
Long branded as an engine parts company, Mahle in recent years decided that diversification was imperative given the rapid changes underway in the automotive market. And because the revenue is so skewed to the OE side, a turn to the aftermarket opens huge new opportunities for the organization. “The tool and equipment industry has long been viewed as a target for Mahle to grow,” Hughes said.
One milestone in this evolution was the acquisition of RTI Technologies in January 2013. The acquisition created the Mahle RTI division. As Hughes put it, “today, what was RTI Technologies serves as the cornerstone of Mahle’s Service Solutions division, solely created to serve the needs of technicians with tools and equipment.” But at the September 10 roundtable a further step was announced; the “Mahle RTI” name is now history, and the organization is now known as Mahle Aftermarket, Service Solutions. The name change was anticipated in an announcement last year but is now official.
However, it’s about more than a name change, as Mahle Service Solutions general manager Max Dull explained.
“We’re enhancing everything to do with customer service,” Dull said, explaining that the term embraces best-in-class quality, a continual drive to offer more competitive pricing and of course service to the customer. “We’re also increasing our sales footprint, and we’ve opened a new distribution centre in California to serve the West Coast. Also, we’ve opened a new DC in Mexico and we’re expanding in Canada – we’re putting more focus into those markets. The OES business has really started to grow, and there’s also a good opportunity to grow in the national service chain business.”
“We’re moving the vast majority of our product that is being purchased by techs and end users through traditional tool and equipment WDs and large national parts groups such as NAPA, CarQuest etc.,” Taylor added. “At the same time, in smaller, more specific markets we continue to maintain relationships with the smaller specialty equipment suppliers that do more of a full service setup for a new shop or existing shops. So we’re coming at this from both angles.”
Hughes noted the massive redesign and reengineering program Mahle is undertaking on its product lines. “Every machine we have is under redesign or has been redesigned,” he said. The redesigned products and forthcoming new ones will be fully rolled out at AAPEX 2014 in Las Vegas this November. The ArcticPRO air conditioning service equipment range has been redesigned from the ground up and will be featured at AAPEX along with the FluidPRO series of fluid exchange machines and NitroPRO nitrogen tire inflation equipment line. “Mahle styling has been applied to all of the equipment, though the brand names stay the same,” Dull said. Tantalizingly, Dull also promised that the show would see the further announcement of a new TechPRO product line, but had to leave it at that for now.
To reinforce its new identity, Mahle Aftermarket, Service Solutions will have its own booth at AAPEX, across the aisle from the main Mahle venue. Each booth will be 20 X 50 feet in area. The aftermarket booth “could be closer to the tool and equipment area of the aftermarket [at AAPEX], but we want to leverage the commonalities and strengths between Mahle Aftermarket, Service Solutions and the Mahle quality manufacturing reputation,” Hughes said.
At AAPEX, Mahle Aftermarket, Service Solutions will host a special press event at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 4 to present the new product releases. The following day at 5 p.m. it will host a launch party that will include a TechPRO product demonstration.
“This will be more than just a product launch,” Hughes said. “There’s the launch and the building of a new division, the huge new product announcements and display at AAPEX – this will be a game changer in the industry – expansion into new markets, new distribution, our investment in sponsoring training, the new name. It’s huge and it’s really exciting. We have a great team of people and there’s a lot more to come, a lot more that you’ll see in Vegas.”