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Automotive Aftermarket Manufacturing

Cover Story: Fast Track to Success

At Autel U.S., intense customer focus and product innovation fuel growth.

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Autel U.S. CEO Chloe Hung has continued high aspirations for the automotive diagnostic tool developer and distributor that she has witnessed grow by leaps and bounds since its humble beginnings 11 years ago operating out of a small home office in Huntington, New York. As the first employee of the North American subsidiary of China-based Autel Intelligent Technology Corp., Hung has been integral to the company’s success, which she proudly says charted 55% growth in 2021. 

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Hung was hired by then-CEO Gary DeLuca, who wanted an administrative assistant who could speak both Chinese and English to enhance communication with the R&D team located in China. She was the perfect fit for the young company, but in the early days DeLuca had to call on shops to make ends meet – mainly to sell scanners to help cover her salary, Hung quips.

It was Hung’s intelligent, decisive and hard-working nature that helped DeLuca and his team put Autel U.S. on the map. After becoming CEO at the beginning of 2021, she has already positioned it for continued success and expanded reach into the automotive aftermarket landscape. With the full support of a team that operates more like a family, it’s what she describes as an atmosphere where everyone is working together utilizing their unique skill sets to reach a common goal – serving customers better than anyone else.  

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Company Heritage & Culture

A culture where everyone’s input is encouraged and respected stems from the ownership at the parent company in China. Hung says the owner “really treasures the end users’ feedback” and encourages his team to reach out to the marketplace to obtain first-hand comments from customers.

Surveys conducted once or twice a month throughout the year to get input on the company’s products or new product ideas are one way. Autel team members also visit local shops to talk with owners, to hear what they think about the company’s tools and learn what they can do to make them better. “That’s why we are very successful; because we are very customer-oriented,” says Hung.

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All feedback is taken seriously and used to enhance product features or develop software to address issues, with very little turnaround time – all in an effort to increase customer service and satisfaction with Autel products. “That’s [one of] the great things about us,” she adds. “It’s integral to helping the Autel team answer this question: “’What can we do to make our products even better?’”

Globally, there are about 2,000 employees, with North America responsible for roughly 50% to 60% of the total sales – one of the reasons why “the owner really values the feedback that we get from the customers in the United States,” explains Hung. 

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Value Proposition 

Autel’s new location in Port Washington, New York, is a 50,000-square-foot building, comprised of 20,000 square feet of warehouse space and 30,000 square feet of office space – offering ample space for expansion.

Autel also recently hired a head of engineering for the U.S. market to help expand the company’s presence in the electric-vehicle market with the introduction of a newly announced EV charger line. With EVs currently representing only 3-4% of vehicles on the road, this offering is a means to help Autel’s customers embrace emerging-technology repair opportunities that will continue to grow, Hung explains. This move also aligns with Autel’s goal of being a one-stop-shop solutions provider for its repair shop customers by offering a range of diagnostic, ADAS and TPMS tools. Autel also actively watches the market to identify niches where products can be created, filling voids that other companies aren’t serving, she continues.

This year, Autel also is introducing wheel alignment/ADAS calibration tools, a line of EV diagnostic tools to complement the aforementioned EV charger line, as well a different type of key programming and key products, including a Smart Watch that can be programmed to a vehicle and be used as Smart Key to lock and unlock doors and start the vehicle remotely.  

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Extending Autel’s value proposition for customers 

There are more than 150 U.S. employees, with 75 working in Autel’s New York office and the other half working remotely across the country.

is its “Total Care Program,” says Hung. When someone purchases a tool and an accompanying total care package, they get a one-year extended warranty on the battery and hardware maintenance and, more importantly, 12 months of software updates to ensure the tablet has the latest vehicle diagnostic software.

Tech support also is available by phone, live chat and email from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. EST. However, there will be 24/7 tech support for the new EV charger line, which will be targeted to both consumers and repair shops. The line will be particularly useful for shops whose EV customers bring in a vehicle to diagnose and repair, but that need to be charged first, Hung explains. 

Autel has offices in 10 different locations worldwide, including Germany, Holland, Mexico, Brazil, Japan and Singapore, each has a managing director like Hung, all of whom communicate regularly with the headquarters in China so that best practices and strategies can be mirrored across the globe – and added valued can be provided to customers every step of the way.

Company Vision & Mission Statement

With the full support of a team that operates more like a family, CEO Chloe Hung describes Autel’s work atmosphere as one where everyone is working together utilizing their unique skill sets to reach a common goal – serving customers better than anyone else.

During weekly virtual meetings among these various offices, directors share monthly sales numbers, forecasts for upcoming months, business plan items, and newfound information about competitors’ products, Hung explains, 

as well as ways to increase brand recognition and boost profitability and customer satisfaction levels.

Besides the U.S., Autel products are sold to more than 50 countries and regions, including Germany, the United Kingdom and Australia. To service these markets, Autel has more than 100 authorized distributors that supply products to approximately 300,000 end-users, says Hung.

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All this effort underscores and supports the company vision to “strive to be a global leading provider of automotive electronics and diagnostic equipment and tools based on a thorough understanding of customer needs and requirements,” explains Hung. 

A tandem effort among the Autel network is to carry out its mission statement: “To create genuine and lasting value for everyone involved by providing customers with superior products and services, employees with excellent work and advancement opportunities and shareholders with maximum profits.”

New Building, Expanded Capacity

Last Fall, Autel officially moved into its new offices in Port Washington, New York, from a second location that served as its U.S. headquarters for seven years until it became too small to accommodate company growth.

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The two-story, renovated facility, home to Autel U.S. technical and customer support, marketing, accounting, executive staff, fulfillment and warehouse, will be the catalyst for accelerating growth, infers Hung. The 50,000-square-foot location is comprised of 20,000 square feet of warehouse space and 30,000 square feet of office space – offering ample space for expansion. 

There are more than 150 U.S. employees, with 75 working in the New York office and the other half working remotely across the country. Hung describes the new office as an atmosphere that keeps employees engaged and excited to come to work every day; the workout gym, ping-pong table and other workplace perks are icing on the proverbial cake. 

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Business Outlook

Sharing thoughts about the business environment for the automotive aftermarket in 2022, Hung notes that coming off a year with 55% growth, Q1 business is a little slow impacted by the economy and inflation. “I think it’s slow to start, but after talking to all the distribution channels, I believe that later on, in Q3, Q4, it’s going to be great for us,” she says with confidence such that repair shops will always need scan tools to repair vehicles. 

Beyond offering great products, Autel management prides itself on also having a solid team – one that is able to capitalize on opportunities. “I think our team is great. They have the best interests of Autel [in mind] when they sell the products,” Hung says. “They truly believe in the products. That’s how you become very successful in selling our products, and anybody you talk to, they would be fully committed to Autel; it has become like a religion, honestly. 

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“It’s great to have the current team that we have. And, I feel like every time when I talk to them, they will give me so many different ideas, how to promote the tools, how to make the tools better. I think that’s more important than anything else,” she says. AMN

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