Tom Tecklenburg is director global automotive aftermarket distribution and services. He is responsible for the oversight and strategic direction of the automotive and heavy-duty aftermarket business globally. Tom has responsibility for automotive aftermarket activities in North America and Europe, with matrix responsibilities for the rest of the world. Join us as Tecklenburg discusses Timken’s global business strategy and the e-business initiatives that help the company stay ahead of the game.
Prior to joining Timken in 2008, Tom was vice president of sales and marketing for Bendix Brakes Americas. He held previous positions in sales with Bendix, Fram and Autolite in both original equipment manufacturer and aftermarket businesses. He also held positions in supply chain and finance.
Tom received a bachelor’s degree in accounting from The Ohio State University and a master of business administration degree from the University of Dayton.
Tom, you joined Timken as director global automotive aftermarket one year this month. Now that you’ve had time to settle in to your new role, tell us about some of your plans and goals for expanding Timken’s global aftermarket business.
Timken enjoys a large global footprint of manufacturing plants and distribution centers, as well as original equipment (OE) customers on six continents. This global footprint allows us to service not only OE and original equipment service (OES) businesses but also diverse aftermarket channel partners.
Join us as Tecklenburg discusses Timken’s global business strategy and the e-business initiatives that help the company stay ahead of the game.
A change in our reporting structure in late 2007 both Timken OE and aftermarket divisions now report to the same global leader has been key to the new opportunities we are presently evaluating. We are convinced that we can continue to grow faster, with higher levels of profitability, by focusing on the end-user markets, leveraging our channel position and continuing to penetrate new applications at the OE level. If an opportunity doesn’t have an aftermarket, it will not be considered for our accelerated growth effort.
As a result of our new alignment, we’ve gained synergies in global policies and processes that have increased our customer service levels in all of our geographic regions.
Going forward, our strategy is to focus on new products, alliances and acquisitions. At the same time, we recognize the changing landscape of the OE business, which will dictate adjustments in how we best serve our aftermarket customer base. Timken has had three successful quarters in 2008, and we look forward to more positive results in 2009.
And speaking of global business practices, you just mentioned that Timken has manufacturing plants and distribution centers on six continents. How does this extensive global footprint help serve your customer base?
Timken’s global footprint helps us better service customers in their local geographic regions. Timken does little import / export from one region to another due to the high costs, as well as regional product differences and the specific industries served. We are continuously looking at ways to better service our channel partners for global opportunities, always mindful of how to best utilize our regional capabilities and expertise.
Logistics and e-Business most certainly play a role when managing a global business. Can you tell us about some of the processes and strategies that help Timken stay ahead of the game?
Timken recently implemented SAP into our ERP systems and has linked them to our e-business front ends as well as to CoLinx LLC. CoLinx is a manufacturer-owned provider of shared e-commerce and logistics services in North America. It operates shared warehouses, a transportation network and freight bill audit and payment services.
Our SAP implementation throughout 2007 and early 2008 was very challenging. However, SAP has made our global capabilities stronger by replacing more than 20 separate business operating systems. We feel SAP will be the foundation for additional significant e-business and e-commerce solutions in 2009 and beyond. As SKU proliferation continues, managing inventories and working with channel partners is even more critical when considering category management, VMI and other systems to increase forecast accuracy and working capital turns.
Timken is not only a parts manufacturer but also offers products to help make your customers’ jobs easier as well. Why is this important for Timken?
Obviously, we have always focused on end-users in the automotive aftermarket the person that “throws away the box.” We want to make sure that the person can easily find the part or application specific product needed and purchase it from one of our more than 10,000 channel-partner locations.
In addition, we offer a lot of valuable free information to help professional technicians increase their knowledge, efficiency and profitability. Two examples: our automotive and heavy-duty TechTips (www.timken.com/techtips) and our award winning Tech Series online training program (www.timken.com/techseries).
While the OE housed unitized bearings (hubs) generally make the installation easier for late model passenger vehicles and light trucks, the technology from Generation 1 to Generation 3 hubs has grown in complexity. As a result, there is a continuing need for quality, user-friendly educational material for professional technicians.
How does Timken’s role as a supplier to the world’s automakers benefit the company’s aftermarket division?
Timken continues to work closely with both OEs and Tier 1 suppliers. They utilize Timken technology and capabilities to generate solutions for cost-effective, performance-driven products. These products will continue to be part of our aftermarket offering, helping to drive future sales.
As a business that makes products primarily composed of different types of steel, the issue of raw material costs must be something Timken keeps a close eye on. What are your thoughts on where this issue is headed?
We are very aware of steel and material economic issues, as we produce high-end, precision-grade steel used in many of our own products as well as products used in specification-critical industries. That being said, the recent economic environment is presenting some very unique challenges and have decreased the high-percentage trend we’ve seen for last 12-plus months. However, year-over-year increases are still around 20 percent. Timken will continue to implement Lean manufacturing and Six Sigma initiatives to drive continuous improvements to minimize cost increases and price and surcharge actions.