Every so often, our editorial staff selects one aftermarket industry professional to get to know a little better. In this new feature, participants are asked to respond to a series of questions that can be answered in about the same amount of time you might spend chatting at the office coffee pot or waiting for an elevator. This week, we hear from Dan Rader, senior product director for the Aftermarket Auto Parts Alliance, the headquarters for Auto-Value and Bumper-to-Bumper.
Prior to joining the Alliance, Dan held a variety of product management positions at Big A Auto Parts and CARQUEST Corp., including vice president of product management and vice president of global sourcing. Dan recently received his Automotive Aftermarket Professional (AAP) designation from the University of the Aftermarket, and is currently enrolled in classes at Northwood University to continue his education. He lives in San Antonio, Texas, with his wife of 17 years and two teenage children.
What was your first job in the industry?
My first job in the automotive aftermarket was in 1996 as an assistant product manager at APS Holdings Inc., the parent company for Big A Auto Parts. I was lucky to have some very supportive people helping me there, many of whom went out of their way to coach and mentor me. It wasn’t long before I was managing my own product lines, working directly with our suppliers and making presentations in the boardroom.
What do you like best about your current position?
Working for the Aftermarket Auto Parts Alliance has opened my eyes to how wide and varied this aftermarket really is, and the best part is working with so many talented and dynamic business owners – the shareholder members of the Alliance. I am also very privileged to work directly with Wayne Butts, VP of product, and John Washbish, president and CEO of the Alliance.
Wayne has a lot of experience working with the shareholders, and he helps keep me focused and on target. In regards to working with John, it seems like I learn something new every day. If I had to guess, I’d say his mantra is “always be better tomorrow than you are today,” as he is constantly pushing us in that direction.
Did you initially intend to pursue a career in the aftermarket? If not, what drew you to the industry and what keeps you here?
No, I landed here by chance. I really liked working on cars, but I didn’t know a thing about the aftermarket when I started with Big A. I was simply looking for a career in purchasing, and while I was looking through the want ads in the local paper in Houston, I was thrilled to find a position that combined two things that were of interest to me. I knew I had to have that job!
What do you do when not at work?
I have many hobbies to keep me occupied, but I think the one thing that really helps me relieve stress at the end of the day is playing my acoustic guitar. I’m mostly self-taught and have been playing off and on since I was a teenager. Considering how long I’ve been at it, I should really be better than I am, but I guess that’s why they call it “playing.”
What one word best sums up your personality?
What was your first car?
My first car was an early 80’s Dodge Colt. I had it for a total of two weeks before I smashed the front end (I was driving too fast). All my money was sunk into the car payment and the insurance, so my dad made me drive it around completely mangled with the radiator practically hanging out of the front. He wanted to teach me a lesson, and it worked!
Who was your childhood hero?
I’m not even 40 yet, so I’m still a child. That means my current heroes are also my childhood heroes, right? I’d say it’s a long list of the aftermarket icons that have, at some point in my career, helped nudge me along. I’ve worked for Pete Kornafel, Art Lottes, Robert Blair, Dan Bock, Todd Hack, Randal Long and many others whom I would consider brilliant men. They made me who I am today. They are my heroes!
Favorite quote or motto?
This one may need some explaining. My old boss and current mentor Robert Blair would come to my office on most days, pop his head in, and ask “what’d you do to earn your corn today?” At first, I was caught off guard by this crazy question, mainly because I hadn’t really ever thought about it, but he made me start thinking about my productivity each and every day. It’s something that still sticks with me.
If you would like to participate in “Five Minutes With” or know someone who would be a great candidate, contact AMN Editor Amy Antenora by clicking here.