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Executive Interview

AMN Executive Interview With MANN+HUMMEL’s Daryl Benton

Benton discusses the latest Purolator brand activations, and creating a better experience for people inside the vehicle.

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Amy Antenora has been reporting on the automotive aftermarket since 2002.

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Daryl Benton, vice president of sales and marketing automotive aftermarket, for Mann+Hummel in North America, has been with Mann+Hummel just over a year, having joined the company from the Castrol lubricants business, where he was leading trade and channel marketing for the U.S. and Canada for roughly seven years. In addition, Benton has extensive sales and marketing experience in the consumer product space, working with such well-known brands as the Mars brand chocolate company, Diageo Wine & Spirits, PepsiCo and General Mills, to name a few. In today’s Executive Interview, Benton sits down with AMN to discuss some of the latest activations taking place with the Purolator brand, as well as discussing the importance of creating a better experience for drivers and vehicle passengers today, and the critical role of video in connecting with consumers today. 

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Let’s start with what’s new. Can you bring us up-to-speed on the latest changes taking place with the Purolator brand?

As part of our digital transformation, in 2021 we launched a new Purolator website and we are rolling out our new URL PurolatorNow.com in February of this year. On that website, we upgraded the back end for compatibility with all mobile devices as well as all of the different types of devices you could use, to provide significantly improved search capabilities and where to buy. This drove the catalog as well as lot more video content and the ability for consumers and customers to interact with the brand. It’s something that we’re really excited about. We think it is a really great website and does a lot to help our consumers and our customers to navigate and learn more. Our new website won the Best New Consumer Website award at AAPEX 2021.

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You mentioned that there’s quite a robust video aspect. Tell us a little about what you’ve seen in terms of changes in the ways customers engage with your content today.

I’m on top of the ways that people are consuming content today – the amount of information that you can get across in short videos is something that’s very compelling. If we’ve learned anything from a TED Talk, it is that short video content is certainly a way to engage and educate and get important messages across. It’s the way our customers and consumers are taking in different forms of media entertainment and information. So, it’s definitely something that we think is compelling.

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What are some of the pain points you focus on with the videos in terms of educating consumers and customers?

Within the Purolator brand, it would be the Purolator BOSS cabin air filtration. We renewed our partnership with Febreze, and one of the things that we certainly understand is that significant number of people have no idea that the cabin air filter even exists. So there’s an element that is about educating people that cabin air filters even exist, and having short video content on that, and on the benefits of cabin air filters, especially the Purolator BOSS cabin air filter, which filters out virus aerosols, and in the world of COVID-19 and with flu season coming, things like having a cabin air filter that helps to remove virus aerosols is something that actually is an important feature of the products.

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And then of course the Febreze freshness, and the ability to take odors and make sure that the environment inside your vehicle is better than the environment outside of your vehicle. So that’s a big part of what we do and what we focus on with Purolator BOSS and some of the video content. In addition to that, one of the other big opportunities with cabin air filters – in addition to awareness that they even exist and that they matter – is that they are easy to change. Lots of applications have a cabin air filter that can be changed in less than 15 minutes. In fact, some of the video content that we have is five-year-old’s changing cabin air filters because it’s easy enough for a five-year-old to do. The fact that cabin air filters are there, and that in many cases they are easy to change is a big part of the kind of video content that we want to share.

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I know there was a huge increase in “driveway DIY” during the pandemic, so I’m sure that that bodes well for a company like yours. Did you see a spike in growth during the pandemic?

The DIY part of the business has certainly seen a spike, and the benefit is that our portfolio has lots of premium applications and DIYers often choose more premium-branded product. So, it’s really good that we have a strength in that space and have the benefit of having strong presence in the premium filtration and oil, cabin, air filters and fuel filters, and that DIYers often have chosen that. So it’s been good.

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There’s so much talk about electric vehicles and carbon neutrality and sustainability today. What is Mann+Hummel’s role in this space? 

The way we state our part of our proposition is, we separate the useful from the harmful. There are certainly big aspects of that which are important in electric vehicles, as well gas-powered vehicles. And one of the things that certainly still exists is cabin air filtration – you’re still inside of a car. So, making sure the air that you’re breathing inside of the vehicle [is safe] is something that certainly matters. 

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Also, another way we can help to drive down the carbon footprint is by having products that help to deliver better efficiency of those things that are energy suckers, like heating and cooling devices, as well as the lubricants that flow through the other things that take energy and waste energy. Even from an oil perspective, making sure those combustion engines also have the best efficiency. That helps to reduce the carbon footprint. 

One of the things we will be talking about more at Mann+Hummel is what we do to drive our own environmental and sustainability agenda. A lot of the things that people want to do in clean air, clean water, clean mobility, really can’t be done without having effective filtration. So, Mann+Hummel is going to play our own role with our own business about reducing our carbon footprint and environmental awareness, but also our products will help other companies to do the same and to improve. 

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