In today’s exclusive AMN Executive Interview, we hear from Joe Pomaranski, senior vice president and general manager, global aftermarket. In this role, he is responsible for overseeing Tenneco’s aftermarket business worldwide, with full responsibility for the business, including engineering, sales/marketing, finance, strategic planning and business development. Prior to being named to his current position in October 2014, Pomaranski served as vice president and general manager, North America aftermarket, responsible for the company’s aftermarket business in North America. He was originally named vice president, North America aftermarket in July 2008, and added the title of general manager in November 2010. Previous to his promotion to vice president, North America aftermarket, Pomaranski was vice president of sales, North America aftermarket.
He joined Tenneco in 1999 from Federal-Mogul, where he held the position of director of sales, special markets. Prior to that, he worked for Cooper Automotive as vice president of sales for the traditional and retail business. His career began with Champion Spark Plug, where he held various positions from 1977 to 1998. Pomaranski began his career in 1978 as a territory manager with Champion Spark Plug. With Champion, he held various management positions such as district manager, regional manager and vice president of sales for retail and traditional aftermarkets. He joined Tenneco after Federal-Mogul acquired Cooper and Moog. He currently serves as chairman of the AASA Board of Governors.
Tenneco has always been very active in educating consumers on the importance of replacing worn components. Earlier this year, the company also launched a multi-media campaign that highlights “The Wings of Monroe.” Can you tell us how these activities are related and what you want to accomplish with them?
“The Wings of Monroe” encompasses all the things we do to support our customers at every level of the industry. For consumers, our “Wings” represent the assurance of exceptional quality, performance and durability in every Monroe ride control product, as well as our 101-year heritage of success in helping motorists enhance their vehicles’ ride and handling characteristics. For our channel partners and the thousands of automotive service businesses that specify and install our products, the Wings are emblematic of the comprehensive support we provide in helping to grow their ride control businesses, including outstanding technical and sales training, innovative promotions, best-in-class merchandising tools, appealing consumer advertising, inventory and market analytics and, of course, great products.
From a more tactical perspective, millions of today’s passenger vehicles are prime candidates for ride control replacement. It is our commitment to help every person involved in this service opportunity – from the distributor to the parts counterperson to the service writer and technician – to communicate the importance of inspecting and, when needed, replacing these safety-critical parts. At the end of the day, I don’t want there to be any doubt that when it comes to growing the ride control market, no one does more than Tenneco and Monroe.
The advent of online shopping and e-commerce has changed the way consumers shop for just about everything these days. How have you seen e-commerce impact Tenneco’s relationship with its customers and what changes have you made as a result?
Every study I’ve seen indicates that more consumers each year are turning to online sources to help make educated decisions about vehicle maintenance and repair. While this trend is bringing tremendous new complexity to the aftermarket value chain, it also presents an exciting opportunity for suppliers and their channel partners to forge stronger relationships with the end consumer. Let’s face it, whether we’re manufacturers of ride control products, chassis parts, sensors, filters or wiper blades, the supplier community spends millions of dollars each year trying to convince consumers to become more proactive about car care. Any tool – whether it’s a mobile app or an online shopping portal – that helps our end customers to become more involved in the process and to make confident, informed purchasing decisions is a net positive. I love nothing more than hearing stories of vehicle owners who request one of our brands at the parts or service counter because they learned about our unique advantages through an online search. That’s going to happen more often each day and it ultimately makes the industry’s leading brands more important to the parts provider, shop owner and consumer.
In terms of its effect on our channel partner relationships, e-commerce is another arena in which we need to help them succeed. We believe it’s our responsibility as a leading supplier to augment our customers’ selling strategies, whether online or through traditional models, by providing outstanding products, programs and other support. A major part of our total support package over the past several years has been the development and deployment of world-class digital content that helps communicate the advantages of selecting Monroe at both the trade professional and consumer levels.
Brand reputation has always been, and will continue to be, an important market differentiator for aftermarket manufacturers. What do you feel the Tenneco brands stand for and how do you make sure the company lives up to these brand expectations?
The Monroe and Walker brands are both more than a century old, yet they’re arguably more popular and successful today than at any earlier period in their history. Monroe, as I touched on earlier, has two defining characteristics – partnership and trust. Our trade customers recognize that Monroe not only helps professionals and consumers restore ‘like-new” ride and handling, but also consistently provides the support, training and other resources needed to grow the category. For consumers, Monroe is a trusted name with a rich heritage of providing innovative, high-quality products that offer a difference they can feel and appreciate. It’s also important to note that while Monroe is a bestselling brand on a global basis, a clear majority of the ride control products we sell in the North American aftermarket are manufactured right here in the U.S. at our Paragould, Arkansas, facilities. That’s a very compelling differentiator in today’s global economy.
The Walker emissions control brand has an even deeper history – 109 years. Service providers choose Walker products for several reasons, including our global leadership as an OE emissions control provider. This helps add confidence to the repair because they understand that each Walker product has been engineered and manufactured specifically for the corresponding vehicle application. And that means, number one, that Walker direct-fit converters, mufflers and related products fit like OE and, second, they help minimize the chances of a customer comeback by performing to the highest standards. I should add, too, that Walker products are manufactured right here in the U.S., in our recently updated production complex in Harrisonburg, Virginia.
How do you stay competitive and add value as a brand?
That’s a great question that highlights one of our differentiating characteristics – our team always strives to add value to our brands, products and customer relationships. One of the nicest compliments I receive from time to time is that “Only Tenneco could do something like that.” It might come from a customer or competitor, but it’s usually related to a product innovation, promotion, consumer ad, mobile marketing activity, or even our performance in helping a customer complete a changeover. Behind each of these successes, there is a team of Tenneco employees who share a passion for the success of our customers. We want to excel in every customer interaction, whether it’s a phone call, a shop visit, a training clinic or simply one of our products being installed in a service bay. Maintaining that passion, and pleasing the customer in everything you do, is how great brands and companies remain relevant, competitive and valuable.
Tenneco was named to Forbes Magazine’s list of best employers in the United States for the third year in a row, ranking as No. 6 in the Automotive category and No. 162 overall. What defines the Tenneco company culture, making it such a great place to work?
We are very proud of our culture, both company-wide and within the North America Aftermarket organization. Simply put, we try to attract the most talented and dedicated people and provide them with the best resources available to help them thrive. We work very hard to ensure every member of our team understands our collective goals as well as the importance of their individual contributions toward those goals. We are a global business that has never lost sight of the importance of the individual. Every person on our team, whether on the production floor in our Paragould, Arkansas, ride control plant or out on the road making a series of shop visits, understands that what they do is vital to our customers’ success and our success.