With over 35 years in the Canadian Aftermarket, Ray Proulx, senior business development manager for KYB Americas, provided YES workshop attendees valuable insights into life in the aftermarket.
“Things are changing very, very quickly and the people who embrace change, I believe, will be the ones who will be succeeding tomorrow,” said Proulx.
Proulx has served as the chairman of the Be Car Care Aware committee for the past nine years. He currently serves on the board of High Fives for Kids and has been very involved with the Terry Fox Foundation for the last 20 years. Proulx is presently the senior business development manager of KYB Americas, responsible for Canadian sales and marketing.
“If you look at the aftermarket today, It’s not only the Canadian aftermarket. The footprint is getting bigger and bigger. Canadian distributors have relationships with U.S. buying groups, and now we are seeing U.S. buying groups with relationships with European buying groups,” continued Proulx. “The footprint is no longer just Canada. It’s no longer just north America, it’s a global footprint. When we do business with Canadian distributors, certainly there are U.S. programs and now there are European programs and we have to look at all of the programs to make sure we position ourselves properly to be able to service the Canadian customer.”
Proulx says the biggest impact that is affecting every level of distribution today, is technology.
“If you look at the technologies in a car today, they are changing and have been changing in the last five years more than they have in the last 50 years in our industry. It will continue to change. Now we are hearing names in the OE manufacturing community like Google and Apple. Five years ago, we would never have thought that those names would be in the OEM community,” explained Proulx
Proulx addressed the different levels of aftermarket distribution. “If you look at the manufacturers, it’s about having the right part for the customer, it’s about having OE quality to fit the platform, so that will be a challenge for the manufacturers. For distributors, it’s to have the right part on the shelf to service and be able to support the technology today, tomorrow and into the future. For Jobbers, the biggest challenge is to have qualified people. You will need qualified people at the counter to ensure they can answer those types of calls that you get from the service provider.” added Proulx.
Proulx believes service providers have the toughest challenge. “They need to fix the cars, they need to have the technology and they need to have the training to make sure that they are able to work on the cars of today and into the future.”
“Training is everything, so if you go back to the manufactures in the aftermarket today, they are the ones that have to deliver that training. They are the ones that have to ensure they keep the jobbers in business today and into the future. Some do a really great job and some are really not doing a whole lot about it. That’s the scary part,” said Proulx.
“Technicians will have to really step up and make sure they understand how to work on the cars of today and into the future. The biggest challenge for service providers is the dealerships. They have the technology, they have the equipment they have the training, and they have the technicians in their bays today to work on those cars.”
Proulx says dealerships today are very aggressive. They are going beyond the five-year bumper-to-bumper warranty period to keep customers coming back.
He says the challenge for the service provider is that they have to do that same type of homework to make sure they keep their customers coming back to them. “The good thing about the service providers is, they have the relationships with their repeat customers, their families etc. and those are the customers that will be with the service providers for years,” added Proulx.
According to Proulx, business is a learning school and you want to be learning every day. If you believe in what you are doing and you believe in your company and what they are doing, be part of that success, he advised.
“You need to truly believe in yourself and what’s in your toolbox and what drives you. That will take you to the next level. You should also surround yourself with people who believe in you.”
Workshop Keynote Max Valiquette
For the workshop portion of the day, Innovation and Trend Expert, Max Valiquette spoke about business trends and the value of branding.
Valiquette helps companies, organizations and brands find solutions to their problems by better understanding their employees, customers and communities. Named one of Canada’s ‘Most influential Marketers,’ by Marketing Magazine, he has worked with some of the biggest brands around the world, including Nike, Budweiser and Scotiabank.
“We are living in an era of unparalleled and prolific innovation and the stakes are so much higher than they were before. We are innovating so quickly now that we don’t necessarily know what to keep up with,” said Valiquette.
In his presentation, Valiquette explored shifting demographics, new cultural trends, and disruptive technologies. Some of the trends he focused on included millennials, sharing culture through collaborative technologies, real-life technologies such as apps and 3D printing, and ongoing changes in the internet.