Every so often, our editorial staff selects one aftermarket industry professional to get to know a little better. 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. In this installment of “5 Minutes With,” we get to know Jeffrey Harmening, Manager – EOLCS/DEF/MOM for the American Petroleum Institute (API).
What was your first job in the industry?
Believe it or not, my first job in high school was working as a parts delivery driver for my local NAPA in Scottdale, Pennsylvania. I had just worked my way up to the counter before college swept me in another direction (geology). Funny how things work out, since a long and winding road led me to the American Petroleum Institute, licensing the very oils I once sold.
What do you like best about your current position?
API’s licensing programs for engine oil (api.org/eolcs) and diesel exhaust fluid (api.org/def) permit marketers to use the API quality marks on products meeting stringent specifications. We support both of these programs with an extensive aftermarket audit program. To know that these programs help ensure that quality fluids are getting into vehicles and protecting them across the globe while enabling them to be driven further with fewer emissions makes me smile each day. Doing my part to protect the environment for my children is a priority for me (even if I can’t get my teenagers to join me in the woods right now).
Did you initially intend to pursue a career in the aftermarket? If not, what drew you to the industry and what keeps you here?
I did not intend to end up where I am today. I’m the perfect example of how networking is a successful strategy to establishing and maintaining a career. I ended up at API soon after the housing bubble burst and the branch office of an engineering firm I had been working for closed its doors. Through great friends, I ended up at API and the work that we all do at the Institute is as satisfying as it is important.
What do you do when not at work?
I love to mountain-bike, hike, backpack, kayak, fish, etc. Adding a dash (or more) of the out-of-doors to the daily routine is essential to maintaining the work-life balance, especially these days.
What one word best sums up your personality?
Adventure-seeking. Always up for new experiences.
What kind of car do you drive?
I love my new Ford Ranger. It suits my personality to a T. I couldn’t afford one in college and then it was gone. When I heard it was coming back, I knew it was meant to be.
What are you currently reading?
“The Secret Wisdom of Nature” by Peter Wohlleben. It provides a wonderful layman’s observation of the extraordinary balance of all living things on this planet and how small changes in wildlife management (for instance) have amazing impact on other, seemingly unrelated organisms or habitats.
If you could time-travel, to where and what in era would you want to visit?
I have been really reading a lot about the “greatest generation” lately. Although to travel back in time to the World Wars would expose me to horrors beyond imagination, it would also provide perspective of the type of bravery, mentality and unity required to climb out of such a dark chasm. If our species can recover to untold heights from such lows, we can tackle anything together.