With the sale of Affinia’s brake division, Nicholas Jacquez became the vice president of marketing and product development for Affinia Global Chassis. With an even stronger focus on chassis parts, Jacquez explains how he and his team plan to refresh the relevance of the Raybestos chassis brand and increase the efficiency and profitability of its customers.
The spin-off of Affinia’s brake parts business is complete and Affinia is now focused on its filtration and chassis businesses. As you enter a new phase in your brand’s history, tell us what your chassis customers can expect from the Raybestos brand this year.
There are six things our customers can expect. First and foremost are chassis products that deliver the aftermarket’s best steering performance and ride quality. Raybestos chassis parts always deliver the best design for the application. Aftermarket chassis suppliers can’t keep doing what we did 10 and 20 years ago. Cars are more advanced now and the mix of cars is different. There is a story behind each new application and a real-world reason why we do what we do when we produce that replacement part.
There is still a misconception in the marketplace that synthetic bearings aren’t as good as traditional metal on metal designs. That may be true in cases where you need to accommodate for high load capability… but almost 80 percent of new vehicles use synthetic bearings in their low-friction steering and suspension systems. In order to restore original steering control and ride quality, you need to use a design that matches the applied science of the original part. Otherwise, you risk creating unacceptable ride characteristics, unhappy customers and comebacks.
We keep up with the technology of new vehicles to be sure we match their steering and suspension specs. The design that goes into every Raybestos chassis part is driven by the technology of that vehicle. We have low-friction designs for optimal turning torque, but we still make accommodations for more demanding situations. When the application calls for it, we use metal-on-metal for high load-bearing and to take up road shock.
We also put our money where our mouth is and back every Professional Grade chassis product with the industry’s best parts and labor guarantee. If any Raybestos Professional Grade chassis part ever fails, the cost of the part, plus the expense of your labor, will be refunded.
Beyond product, what else differentiates Raybestos chassis as a brand?
That brings us to the other five things I’d like to discuss.
Affinia is dedicated to maintaining its first-to-market status in the aftermarket. We provide our customers with increased sales opportunities by offering exclusive access and extensive coverage for the latest import and domestic VIO applications. We also offer easy-to-use e-cat, Web and paper catalogs. We maintain an informative website, and we offer robust data attributes, like line drawings and schematics to help identify parts, and regular tech service bulletins to round out our full range of customer support.
Affinia offers world-class training and dedicated technical support. The Raybestos ACE Tech Hotline, Training Center and Field Clinics give our customers access to the industry’s latest technical information.
We also provide marketing with proven results. Our programs and promotions have industry-wide appeal. This spring, we have a sweepstakes promotion that specifically rewards counterpeople and professional technicians. And later this summer, we’ll combine forces with Raybestos brakes, Joe Gibbs Racing and Toyota Racing Development to present a 2014 Toyota Tundra vehicle build and sweepstakes on the same caliber as last year’s Raybestos ROUSH Stage 3 Mustang promotion.
Before you became vice president of marketing and product development for Affinia Global Chassis, you served as the director of market science. What past experiences are you carrying over into your new role with Affinia?
Market science has always been a passion of mine. Affinia has developed a cutting-edge analytic tool that can help our customers “Stock to Demand.” Very simply, our program helps WDs and shop owners stock according to the vehicle populations and demand/failure rates in their specific market(s).
As vehicle populations change, this easy-to-use Web portal will help WDs and shop owners make sense of changing demand to help them determine their correct inventory mix. A combination of ZIP code level VIO, survey data and proprietary analytics help us predict failure rates by year, make, model and state.
How is what you offer different from other category management tools?
Traditional category management tends to focus solely on historical data. Sales history is certainly important, but history doesn’t always do a good job of predicting what will sell. Our tool analyzes repair rates and market opportunities to give our customers the information they need to optimize their inventory for their specific region of the country at specific times of the year.
Large amounts of working capital are tied up in excessive and unnecessary inventory. But in just a couple of minutes, customers can learn the most popular chassis part numbers in their market. Combined with sales history, this helps them calculate the true demand for their area. They can then tailor an inventory, location by location, to satisfy existing needs and satisfy future demand.
This “predictive inventory” benefits customers by allowing them to spend less time managing inventory and more time selling. It gives them increased opportunities for strategic business planning, which can help them customize assortments and marketing campaigns for their region.
Affinia’s market science group also offers its customers other business intelligence tools. We offer business consulting for channel partners, sales and product teams, [as well as] planning and tactical resources to deliver custom data on end-users, channels and the marketplace. [We also offer] demand forecasting to identify marketplace trends and opportunities, and proprietary market research for guidance with methods and spending.