Matt Buchholz, president and general manager of MotoRad of America, is an energetic executive who has served at nearly every level of the automotive supply chain over the past 20 years. He received both his BBA and MBA from Northwood University.
With a humble beginning in the automotive industry at the age of 17, Buchholz began working at a local Valvoline Instant Oil Change as an under-car technician. A few years later, he was managing the banner franchise location while attending college. Over the next couple of decades, Buchholz worked in a variety of roles for organizations such as Pep Boys, AutoNation, CarMax and Standard Motor Products.
Distributed globally, MotoRad is celebrating its 60th year (established in 1958). In today’s interview, Buchholz talks about the secret to MotoRad’s longtime success.
AMN: MotoRad will be celebrating a significant milestone soon, as the company marks its 60th anniversary. What do you have planned to celebrate?
MB: Thousands of MotoRad current and former employees worked diligently to get us to this 60-year milestone, one which is exciting to all of us. To celebrate, we will serve those that have partnered with us along the journey by hosting our eighth annual Monday Night Football party to kick-off AAPEX. This is one of my favorite nights of the year. It is fitting to celebrate through service and being together Monday night. I can’t wait!
AMN: How does a brand that’s been around for more than half a century stay nimble and ahead of the curve in this competitive market?
MB: Our founder was truly a remarkable individual who set a firm foundation of customer focus. Our first customers were OE; we later expanded into the aftermarket. He believed that if you focused on the customer and their needs, then everything else would take care of itself. Over the past six decades, MotoRad team members have leaned into his vision. Since joining MotoRad in 2015, we have only sharpened our focus on serving the customer in an inimitable way. Of course, it starts with being rooted in serving our internal team.
AMN: Can you expand on how you serve your internal team?
MB: Absolutely. We have exponentially increased our investment in training, especially within the industry through great programs such as Leadership 2.0. In addition, we have changed the way we approach human capital management. Our strengthened HR team leads a focused talent development process. Pre, during and post on-boarding processes have been enhanced. We have not only improved employee retention and development, but I can confidently say that MotoRad has never been in a stronger position to serve.
AMN: Tell us about the company culture. What are some of the core values that have shaped the company into what it is today?
MB: I have always enjoyed serving others. This was enhanced with a realization years ago that you must die to yourself to truly serve others. Some refer to it as servant or humble leadership. Our customers have a strong desire to partner with companies that are others-focused. When I joined MotoRad, I found a humble executive team with a strong heartbeat to serve… I can always work with humble. When we recruit and promote we look for individuals who contain the same heartbeat for service, thus matching our values. When you are others-focused, you do things that are others-serving vs. self-serving. That might mean sacrificing short-term revenue or profit when you know it is in the customer’s best interest.
AMN: What are some of the most significant changes that have impacted the MotoRad business over the past 60 years?
MB: More than two decades ago, OBDII requirements transformed our industry and every year since the new requirement, automakers have tried to improve emissions. MotoRad has worked closely with major automakers to innovate thermal management through more precise control of engine temperatures and emissions. Prior to OBDII, thermal management was a mostly reactive and mechanical process in the cooling system, where today it has progressed into computer controls and sensors.
AMN: AAPEX is just around the corner – a time for exciting product introductions and other announcements. Anything exciting planned that you can share with AMN readers?
MB: I can say that we are focusing on strengthening our leading category offering, in addition to expanding into new products that are synergistic to our current categories and competencies. MotoRad has continued to expand our product development and engineering capabilities in order to increase the product scope to our business partners.
AMN: Let’s talk about some of the major news headlines impacting the aftermarket today. How will MotoRad be affected by changes to NAFTA and the tariffs the Trump administration is putting in place?
MB: The headlines have certainly created plenty of stir and disruption in our industry. Disruption creates opportunity for creative and strategic problem-solving. Although our manufacturing and supply footprint has not been as affected as most, we are staying very close to the details to make sure that our customer service levels stay high.
AMN: Will MotoRad have a role to play in the “car of the future” – whether that means the connected car, the autonomous car or an EV of some sort? If so, what role will that be?
MB: The car of the future is such an interesting topic that has created buzz in every corner of the transportation industry. The future is exciting and will be full of disruption. Electrification, autonomous vehicles and increased CAFÉ standards all touch thermal management in some way. Our engineers are some of the best in the world. MotoRad recently played a significant role with a major automaker to innovate its thermal management system. We delivered a unique cooling product that enabled our partner to launch its future platform.