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Executive Interview

Executive Interview with Jason Best, Vice-President Sales and Marketing – Aftermarket for Spectra Premium

In this week’s Executive Interview, Jason Best talks with aftermarketNews about Spectra Premium’s plans to expand into the fuel pump market, Spectra’s approach to data management as well as some changes the company has undergone in the past several years.

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

Jason Best started his career as Canadian sales manager at Coulter Radiator in 1993. He joined Spectra Premium team in 1997 as national sales manager, when Coulter Radiator joined the Spectra Group. Since 2004, Best has been in charge of all sales and marketing projects as vice-president sales and marketing – aftermarket.

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In this week’s Executive Interview, Best talks with aftermarketNews about Spectra Premium’s plans to expand into the fuel pump market, Spectra’s approach to data management as well as some changes the company has undergone in the past several years.

Spectra Premium has been recognized by a number of distribution groups over the past few years for product quality, customer service and shipping excellence. To what do you attribute these accolades? What do you feel are Spectra’s key strengths and differentiators in the marketplace?

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We attribute these accolades to an overall team commitment with a customer-first approach to becoming the market leader in cooling system replacement parts. Understanding the perspective of our customer’s customer and their ongoing variable needs within today’s aftermarket helps us to provide each individual client with an experience that surpasses their expectations. We feel that our main strength is being able to understand the end users needs both from a DIY and DIFM program view, then adapting to those with a variable market management approach that assures customer satisfaction. First-to-market, OE fit, form and function, competitive pricing programs coupled with excellent and stable first-pass fill rates has allowed Spectra Premium to be recognized in the market today.

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Spectra is known for its commitment to quality as well as having a strong focus on clean data. Tell us a bit about the company’s product management team and the role the team plays in fulfilling customer expectations in these areas.

Quality has and always will remain the focus within our organization. This commitment to our customers does not only apply to the product side of our business model, it applies throughout the organization and in particular on the data exchange side. Spectra Premium remains 100 percent compliant with all major electronic catalog requirements set forth in today’s marketplace. Providing clean and accurate data along with compliant product image specifications is a clear market advantage in terms of leveraging our deepest in the industry coverage. On one side, the data is used to help sell the product before others bring it to market, yet behind the scenes, analysis, in terms of missing holes, coverage or specific application gaps helps in determining potential market opportunities.

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I understand the company is looking to transition into the fuel systems market and is developing a new fuel pump line. Tell us more about this.

As the world’s largest aftermarket manufacturer and distributor of fuel tanks and sending units coupled with being an OE full service design and engineering organization for fuel system development the transition was natural. Spectra Premium currently designs and engineers fuel systems for GM, Chrysler, Ford and others. In particular, Spectra Premium will supply and be responsible for the design and function of the GM Volt fuel tank modular. Our development of the fuel pump line will remain committed to supplying FDM (Fuel Delivery Module) or hanger assembly type replacement units only. These replacement products of both today and the future will eventually make up the dominant aftermarket replacement part and we are committed to providing those needs. Product validation, testing and development will all be housed in Boucherville, Quebec, Canada, in order to align with our OE approach on fuel system design.

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What is the company’s product coverage philosophy?

Depending upon the product category our strategy varies based on VIO, market demand and make and model historical failure rates. To generalize the approach we identify all vehicles with a minimum 25,000 VIO within the North American market and or new applications launched three to six months after initial vehicle production. On lines such as radiators and fuel pumps, previous model year failure rates help identify the priority in which parts will be developed. Ultimately the amount of vehicles on the road identifies the largest replacement opportunity, yet it is our job to also be ahead of the curve with relation to historical failure modes on certain applications.

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In 2006, Spectra Premium sold off 35 warehouses in the U.S. to warehouse distributors that were well-established customers of the company. Long-term supply agreements were also part of the deal. It’s been three years since the company decided to make this change. What benefits have you seen?

The largest benefit that we have experienced with this strategic move is clarity amongst the marketplace establishing Spectra Premium Industries as a true manufacturing organization. Prior to the change, we were confusing in terms of our distribution channels, today our intentions are very clear within all segments of the aftermarket. We want to grow our customer’s market share as a manufacturer and leave the distribution to the experts.

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With all the changes in the automotive industry today, do you foresee any changes in the relationship between manufacturers and distributors going forward? If so, what?

I think overall that the relationship between manufacturer and distributor will grow stronger as the market becomes more difficult. The difficulty forces the two to become more aligned in their approach to capturing market share. Manufacturers will be required to provide additional support to their customers with such things as vendor managed inventories, investment in category line management or a segmented marketing approach will allow the distributor to capture the available replacement parts opportunities vacated by the closing of OE Dealerships or to adjust to the consumers ever changing buying habits. Through these changes we collectively as an aftermarket become stronger and more aligned to service the future demands.

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