Jack Ramsey is the senior vice president of North America Aftermarket at Gates Corp., a role he has held since June 2013. Since joining the company in 1993, Ramsey has held a number of leadership positions across multiple business disciplines including sales, marketing and product management for Gates Automotive Aftermarket and Fluid Power divisions. His previous senior management experience includes serving as vice president managing the Gates business relationship with NAPA/Genuine Parts Co.
In today’s interview, Ramsey sits down with AMN to talk about the company’s involvement in the new SERVICE-EDU technical training and education program, the importance of viewing – and repairing – vehicle components as part of a system, and more.
Earlier this spring, Gates Corp. was honored with the NAPA Auto Parts “Excellence in Quality” award for consistency in providing quality products. What are some of the golden rules of the Gates corporate culture that lead to this kind of success?
It is an honor to be recognized by our customers for our work. Our company values certainly contribute to our success in powering progress in all aspects of our business and in that of our customers. Quality is knit right into the fabric of our corporate culture – to be uncompromising in the quality and safety of our systems, services and products. Values such as integrity, accountability and initiative throughout the process of developing and manufacturing our products allow us to provide the highest-quality automotive aftermarket solutions. In addition to these core values, we are proactive in seeking information that will allow us to deliver market needs. To this end, we regularly collect voice of the customer information and lean on our dedicated product application team to stay ahead of the curve. With everything that goes into our process, we feel confident that the quality of our products stands out in the market.
The success of your customers is critically important as well, and strong education and training is a big part of that. Tell us about the new SERVICE EDU industry education and training initiative that Gates is a part of? What role will Gates play and how did the company get involved?
We have a long history of providing education and training for automotive technicians. Our experienced sales team has always been, and remains, committed to continuing to offer highly interactive individualized training. As well, we are always looking for new and effective ways to reach technicians and provide them with the most value we can.
We see the SERVICE-EDU initiative as a way to augment our other training efforts and expand our reach to this valuable audience. This joint industry training program was created in collaboration with Gates, MAHLE, NGK Spark Plugs and Timken to create high-quality, diversified training for technicians on component and system failures and how they can properly diagnose and efficiently replace worn parts. In this program, each participating manufacturer provides a training course focused on its unique category of expertise and includes classroom and hands-on instruction on system troubleshooting, advanced service techniques and component replacement. We felt that by joining forces with other OE parts manufacturers, we would be able to provide the right value for technicians who want to maximize their knowledge but may have limited time to dedicate to training.
It was through Gates’ strong connection to the industry that helped bring this program to fruition. We believe that when it comes to education and training, the more awareness that exists among automotive technicians, the better it is across the board. We’re proud to be in collaboration with such high-quality and respected names in the industry.
Gates has been one of the early proponents of repairing vehicle components as part of a system, rather than individually, for example, as with serpentine systems. Why is this important to Gates and how do you get the message out to techs?
As an OE manufacturer, Gates has an inherent understanding of system development. We know that each component in a system plays a role that is intended to work in concert with system at large. It is because of this understanding that we believe that repair and replacement should have a system-based approach.
We feel it is important to promote awareness that components in a system wear at the same rate. Worn components in a system can drastically affect performance and simply replacing one part can cause system failure and comebacks, as well as a breakdown in customer trust and loyalty. Gates’ “Be System Smart” initiative is the primary vehicle for getting this system-based repair and replacement message out to automotive technicians. We advocate the Car Care Council’s recommendation to inspect the serpentine, cooling and timing systems at 60,000 miles and replace worn components by 90,000 miles or as advised by the manufacturer. We promote this message to the technicians primarily through our various training and education efforts.
Tell us a little about the process of developing new products and putting together kits for a system-wide repair. Do you utilize feedback from the field?
Gathering feedback is a critical piece of the new product development process. It is built into our due diligence to ensure our products effectively address market needs. We work hard to gather as much information as possible in order to see needs and opportunities. Our sales field is an invaluable resource of experts on whom we rely to let us know customer needs. In addition, we collect voice of the customer information on a regular basis to maintain our position as a market leader.
We’ve placed a lot of emphasis on simplifying the process of system repair by providing kits that come complete with all of the components needed for system restoration. We have robust product application/engineering teams that ensure that each kit is specifically bundled for a particular application, thereby streamlining the process of individual parts sourcing, reducing overall costs and maximizing customer satisfaction.
In addition to supporting education and training for techs, Gates also is very involved in supporting today’s up and coming motorsports stars. Who are you supporting this year? Tell us why this is valuable to the company?
This year, we are excited to be sponsoring Sarah Burgess, an up-and-coming driver for BMI Racing who races in the Pro Lite Truck class of the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series. We feel that she is a strong brand ambassador for us because she is incredibly knowledgeable and has a natural ability to connect with our market. On the powersports side of our business for our G-Force brand, we are sponsoring a number of different drivers across the board including UTV, snowmobile and ATV racers, to name just a few categories. We think this is an effective way to demonstrate the quality and versatility of our G-Force line and build the brand across multiple platforms.