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Executive Interview

AMN Executive Interview With MotoRad’s Matt Buchholz

We talk about “pandemic-proofing” the business, supply chain issues, evolving automotive technologies and AAPEX.

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

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Matt Buchholz is president and general manager of MotoRad of America. A graduate of Northwood University with both his BBA and MBA, Buchholz has served at nearly every level of the automotive supply chain over the past two decades. In this exclusive AMN Executive Interview, we talk about “pandemic-proofing” the business, supply chain issues, evolving automotive technologies and AAPEX.

How did MotoRad approach business during the pandemic? What kinds of changes did you implement within your workplace to support employees and keep business flowing as effectively as possible?

The past 18 months have been character-defining times for us all. I have been through a lot of training and even higher education; I do not recall a class on how to handle a global pandemic.  What has carried us through are past practices of hiring team members with impeccable character who fit culturally, with the right chemistry and are highly competent. Our team has guided our company well during such a challenging time with numerous headwinds.  

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We have faced COVID in partnership with our team members, distributors, supply chain, our families and loved ones. Our team volunteered to step in the gap where necessary and do whatever it took to service our customers. Equally impressive was the partnership we have experienced in the aftermarket with our distributors, working together to streamline supply to get products to the end-user. Millions of families rely on our products each year to keep cars on the road. We take that very seriously.

We have had to make the standard changes to our workplace with health and safety protocols.  Beyond the standards, we are open to doing things differently as we move forward.  If we hire the right team, we do not need to manage them in the traditional sense. We are willing to meet customers where they are comfortable engaging, and the same is true for our team.

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How has MotoRad been affected by the supply chain issues we have been experiencing since the start of the pandemic? 

We have had to stay on our toes. There hasn’t been a just a single constraint – we have faced several. We have had to be nimble, communicate early and often with suppliers, anticipate risks or weak points prior to it materializing and be open-minded to doing things differently. I am most proud of our global focus on the end-user. We have consistently made decisions to keep product flowing through to the market, even if we had to bear a short-term incremental cost such as air freight to cover temporary disruptions.

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Were there any changes made to the way you did business during the pandemic that created benefits or efficiencies you will continue with?

Absolutely! We have strengthened our business to be more “pandemic-proof.” I am not sure if that is the correct phrase, but that is what we have done. Our operational KPI have improved through the most difficult of times, and we have done that with great people improving systems and processes.

With all of the headlines about EVs, autonomous vehicles, ADAS, etc. what new vehicle technologies do you see as the strongest areas of growth and future opportunity for MotoRad?

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MotoRad has been supplying quality products for 63 years. Technology evolutions excite us.  For instance, automotive thermostats were mechanical and now they are connected to the PCM through inputs/outputs. This evolution of electrification pushed us toward engine management technology, which is a strong offering for current and future ICE or EV platforms.  

Interestingly, we already manufacture OEM thermal management technology for EV applications. The sales projections for the platforms continue to strengthen and our team is excited for the future.

What can you tell us about the arrangement with Stant Corporation? What sorts of synergies and benefits did Stant bring to MotoRad?

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Yes, the timing of this being just weeks before “shelter-in-place” orders rippled through much of the country made life a little more interesting for our joint teams. The agreement that we reached with Stant was to carve-out the servicing of the aftermarket segment. MotoRad is well and uniquely positioned (from a supply-chain, quality and coverage perspective) to provide great service to this channel. We are very focused on the aftermarket. The Stant aftermarket team has been an exceptional fit and collectively brought decades of experience. Our joint teams dissected our program to make sure the outcome was better than both individual programs, creating a win-win for both.

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AAPEX 2021 is right around the corner. Will you be exhibiting this year? If so, what does MotoRad have planned? How has the continued pandemic changed the company’s approach to events and trade shows?

Yes! I am looking forward to getting back together. This is a relationship industry, and one that comes together in times of trouble or uncertainty. This AAPEX will be a special one. A gathering like no other – like a family reunion of people that enjoy being together. 

We have not waivered on our booth size. In fact, we have increased our meeting space to create a place for us to meet with a sense of comfort and safety. Our booth will feature a new display of our products, an open-air feel and modern look. I urge all attendees to come by and check us out.

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