Greg Noethlich is the president and CEO of Champion Laboratories. In this exclusive interview, Noethlich discusses Champion’s commitment to developing innovative filtration solutions and maintaining one of the most comprehensive quality assurance programs of any filter manufacturer in the industry.
Champion Laboratories has a storied history that dates back to the 1930s. How does the company maintain its unique heritage while also staying cutting edge – what’s the secret to success in that regard?
Our heritage is rooted with our stronghold in USA manufacturing. That has been and continues to be a big part of our success. We’re also making significant capital investments in our domestic manufacturing plants to solidify our leadership position in the marketplace. We’ve never been more aligned in our strategic plan and mission. The competitive momentum this has given us is very exciting.
CL is part of UCI, which completed its Chapter 11 reorganization last December. Can you bring us up to speed on where the company stands today in terms of its recovery in the marketplace?
The Chapter 11 filing allowed us to return to the core of what made Champion Laboratories one of the largest filter companies in the world. We continue to move forward as a stronger, independent enterprise, and we’re better equipped than ever to bring value to our customers where it matters – by being first-to-market with innovative solutions while maintaining high-quality products that address their needs. When our customers win, we win.
Integrity and trust are key themes in your company’s message. How do you ensure customers trust and value your company?
It’s simple, really. We don’t just talk the talk. We walk the walk and do what we say we’re going to do. That involves focusing on our customers’ needs and bringing value to them, especially in terms of valuing the brands of our private label partners as much as we value our own. We have to maintain the highest levels of quality for Champion Laboratories to protect the integrity of their brands as well. Lastly, in this day and age – given the challenges on companies to manage inventory levels and have product when customers want it and how they want it – we make it easy to do business with us. We’re focused on enhancing the ease of ordering, the ability of our customers to see their order statuses, and ultimately, delivering their product on-time at the industry’s highest quality levels.
On the subject of quality, talk to us about CL’s Quality Assurance programs.
Our market is challenging, so we constantly need to challenge ourselves internally to be better. We’re a leading original equipment manufacturer for many well-known customers that have very high expectations for the performance of our products. We’re committed to meeting and exceeding those expectations – as well as the expectations of our smaller customers – by evolving and continuing to improve our quality processes. For example, the industry has a new quality standard, IATF 16949. We’re geared up to be in front of this initiative and will be ready for the new standard by the appropriate deadlines. We focus on quality so heavily because of our strong ties to our original equipment customers. That remains a critical part of our strategy across all of our customers and channels.
With vehicles becoming ever more complex, where do you see innovations in the filtration market heading over the next few years?
As more synthetic oils are being launched, our innovations now and in the immediate future are focused on the premium segment of the filter market. We’re launching a new line of synthetic oil filters across a number of our key customers’ brands as well as our own brand. But we also think of innovation as it relates to our manufacturing processes. Every day we strive to be more efficient at what we do. That’s how we plan to maintain our competitive edge over the next few years.