Daniel Schildge is the CEO of CRP Industries Inc., the parent company of CRP Automotive. He was appointed to the position in July 2008, after serving in a variety of capacities with the company, including COO. Schildge is responsible for making CRP Industries a thriving, enduring and purposeful company.
Schildge is a member of the Executive Leadership Council of the Import Vehicle Community, a segment of the Auto Care Association. He is a graduate of Harvard University’s Owner/President Management Program and holds an ME in Aerospace Engineering and a BS in Mechanical Engineering from Cornell University. Prior to joining CRP, Dan served in the U.S. Navy as a submarine officer on board the USS Columbus (SSN 762).
In today’s interview, Schildge talks about the expansion of CRP’s investment in Atlantic Automotive Engineering and key priorities for the company going forward.
AMN: It’s been a few years now since CRP Automotive acquired Atlantic Automotive Engineering (AAE). Tell us about the investments the company has made in growing and expanding the AAE facility in Tabor City, North Carolina?
DS: We’ve made several improvements to our AAE brand’s U.S.-based remanufacturing capabilities. In addition to installing new production equipment and adapting new technologies, we’ve incorporated a great deal of automation and efficiency to stay on the cutting-edge of popular and fast- growing product categories in the steering systems market. We’ve also invested in our team by adding key personnel that are leaders and experts in the field of power steering. All of these improvements and upgrades are aimed at ensuring we continue to deliver the highest-quality remanufactured products available in the market, for both hydraulic power steering (HPS) and newer technology electric power steering (EPS) parts. We can already see an early payoff from our efforts with the recent award of ISO 9001:2015 certification. We are very proud of this accomplishment.
AMN: What are some of the key products being made at the facility?
DS: At CRP, we remanufacture hydraulic steering racks and pumps for a very broad range of Asian and European vehicles. For newer vehicles that use some form of electric power steering, we remanufacture everything from electro hydraulic power steering (EHPS) pumps to EPS racks and columns for popular makes like Ford and Lexus.
AMN: What are some of the product segments CRP Automotive is really focusing on as growth drivers in the next few years and why?
DS: EPS is a key growth business for CRP. As more vehicles come into service equipped with this technology, the aftermarket need will increase dramatically and CRP’s AAE brand is well-positioned to take advantageof that opportunity. CRP Automotive is fast developing a first-to-market position with OE-quality EPS racks and EPS steering columns, as well as critical technical support.
AMN: Remanufacturing is now a key part of CRP’s business – talk to us about the value proposition of reman and how you communicate that message to customers.
DS: The value proposition of remanufacturing has a direct correlation to the product’s cost and complexity. Steering racks and pumps are made up of several components, some of which require complex manufacturing, so when a rack or pump fails, it’s often just a few small components that are to blame. By remanufacturing these, we are able to sustain the value in the product’s major components as we address the failure or weak points.
In doing so, we not only avoid scrapping the part but also offer the automotive aftermarket a high-quality and very cost-effective solution that keeps the vehicle on the road. In our customer and industry communications we stress the point that we don’t just remanufacture our parts, we also 100-percent test everything. We’ve found that this statement resonates with our customers. It helps them take notice that CRP is a player in the remanufacturing business and instills confidence in them. Our commitment to high quality remanufactured parts is consistent with CRP’s brand portfolio of high quality Rein Automotive, Pentosin, ContiTech and Ajusa products.
AMN: We’ve been told AAE enjoys one of the lowest warranty rates in the steering systems segment. What’s the secret to your success in this regard?
DS: Enjoying one of the lowest warranty rates in the steering systems business is largely due to the application of a stringent quality control process and a commitment to 100-percent testing right here in the U.S. This is the same approach endorsed by CRP Automotive with its other brands. In addition to supplying quality replacements parts that deliver the same form, fit, and function as OE parts, our AAE product team takes critical steps to address common failure points by identifying, re-engineering, and correcting design flaws found in the original parts.
AMN: What’s next for AAE and CRP Automotive?
DS: The integration of the AAE brand into CRP Automotive is playing an important part in the expansion of CRP’s business overall and helping the company to achieve its corporate purpose of “Building a sustainable community where people and machines perform at their best.” With AAE, CRP now has remanufacturing as a core competency, opening up many new opportunities for product line extensions and new product developments that relate to product offerings with other CRP automotive brands. This not only opens a viable conduit to new business opportunities, but also increases the overall value of CRP Automotive to its distribution network and the professional repair technician.