Announcing in November 2012 plans to spin off its brake parts business, Affinia Group officially sold the division in a management-led buyout, with Torque Capital Group acquiring the business in a private transaction on March 20, 2013. Now named Brake Parts Inc., the business, which includes the venerable Raybestos brake brand, is led by President and CEO David Overbeeke. Today, Overbeeke brings us up to speed on all the changes taking place and shares a bit about his plans for the future of BPI.
Q. The spin-off of Affinia’s brake parts business is now complete and Brake Parts Inc. LLC is an independent, private entity. Can you tell us a little about how the deal played out?
A. Affinia Group Holdings made the decision to spin off the brake business as part of a strategic re-alignment back in late 2011. At that time, Affinia retained an investment banker to market BPI. After a multi quarter sale process failed to produce a proposal acceptable to Affinia, the decision was made to spin BPI off as a separate legal entity of its shareholders in November 2012. At the same time, interest was building for a management-led buyout, which ultimately closed on March 20th, 2013, with Torque Capital Group acquiring BPI in a private transaction.
Q. Tell us about the role private equity firm Torque Capital Group plays in the new business.
A. Torque Capital Group is a New York-based private equity firm, which specializes in investing in manufacturing and industrial companies. They believe that with the help of their new investors and the BPI management team, they can accelerate the growth of Brake Parts Inc., particularly in international markets.
Q. What are the plans for reintroducing the Raybestos brand to the marketplace? What is going to change and what stays the same?
A. I’m not sure “reintroducing” the brand is quite right. The Raybestos brand heritage has a legacy of more than 100 years in the brake business. As one of the flagship brands in the automotive aftermarket, we will continue to position the Raybestos brand as the premier aftermarket offering of brake system parts for light- and medium-duty vehicles. Our primary focus remains the same: 1.) A disciplined process on developing new and innovative products, 2.) A global commitment to consistency in quality products and maintaining best-cost practices and 3.) Providing the support our customers need to grow their businesses.
One change you can look for is we will be exploring new product line additions under the Raybestos brand. We not only see opportunities for this in North America, but globally as well … especially in Asia.
Q. Will the company’s current global manufacturing and distribution footprint remain as it is today?
A. We completed a major restructuring of our global manufacturing footprint over the past five years, investing well over $100 million in new, state-of-the-art, lean manufacturing capabilities in best-cost countries. This not only gives us the capacity we need to support our current channel partners and their growth plans, but also provides us additional capacity to support our global business development sales strategy. On the distribution side, we changed our North American model as well. We now have three strategically located distribution facilities that can service all of our U.S. and Canadian customers’ needs on a geographic basis. We doubled the size of our West Coast facility, we kept our Midwest DC in Illinois and opened a new 350,000-square-foot DC on the East Coast in Hazelton, Pa. This provides our customers with full line coverage, with 24-to-
.48 hour turnaround, and delivers orders faster with consistent high order fill rates.
Q. The brake parts category is probably the industry’s most-competitive product category. What are the keys to being a leader in this competitive market segment?
A. It starts with the product line offering. We must deliver a quality product, at competitive pricing on a consistent, everyday basis. And with the global restructuring I already mentioned, we are in a low-cost producer position with control of our entire product line supply chain, from start to finish. What sets us apart is the fact that we maintain full control of our product line research, development, rigorous testing, manufacturing and distribution processes. Our dedicated team of engineers along with our R&D group is one of the best in the aftermarket.
Another important key is making sure you have the right product, in the right place at the right time. We have invested in new supply chain and inventory management systems and support tools to maximize working capital and deliver what our customers order on time and with a higher than 95 percent order fill. In this same framework is our passion and dedication to “First To Market” applications. Nobody does it better than we do. Our OE research, product birth certificate process and having product available first “on the shelf” are paramount to being a leader in this category.
Lastly, but most important of all, is providing our channel partners with the customized support and solutions they need to address their go-to-market strategies. Whether that’s unique product or brand offerings … distribution and delivery solutions… to category management analytics, implementing our SmartStock inventory management program… to the technical and sales training initiatives and innovative promotions driving sales … BPI is focused to make a difference.
Q. Now that the deal is official, what’s next for Brake Parts Inc.?
A. We are focused on BPI’s global growth, especially in Mexico and China. In addition, we will be exploring strategic expansion opportunities for our product line offerings. We must continue to address the competitive needs of our customers here in North America. By maintaining a laser-like focus on quality, speed and coverage, we can exceed our customers’ expectations. We believe that through strategic partnerships, we can help our customers adapt to the changing needs within the marketplace … allowing them to grow and prosper at an even greater pace.