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5 Minutes With Akebono’s Edward Gerhardt

In this installment of “Five Minutes With,” we get to know Akebono’s marketing and data services manager.


What was your first job in the industry?

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Automotive technician at a Ford Dealership. I was a good student in high school, and had taken a lot of “college prep” courses: Geometry, Algebra II, Chemistry and even an AP Biology class, but during my senior year, I didn’t have the urge to “go-away” for four more years of school like many of my classmates. I always helped my dad in the driveway with family car repairs, loved working on my truck and did really well in my high school auto shop class, so I ended up going a local trade school. It was a nine-month program for automotive repair. When I first started at the Ford Dealership, I worked as an apprentice with three other techs. About six months later, I was “master” state certified, and worked on my own after that.

What do you like best about your current position?

The breadth and depth of my position. I am responsible for all of our aftermarket marketing initiatives as well as cataloging and data requirements. Things will often end up crossing into product development or sales. [I enjoy] never working on the same thing day-to-day and continue to learn across a wide spectrum.


Did you initially intend to pursue a career in the aftermarket? If not, what drew you to the industry and what keeps you here?

Initially, yes, when I went to the trade school for auto mechanics and became a technician at the Ford Dealership, but after I was there a while I realized what was enjoyable and fun at home on the weekends, might not be something I wanted to do forever. So, after a couple years I started working on my degree, by taking night classes. Realizing that would take me forever, I decided to take the money I had saved up and fund my education.

Fast-forward a few years later, I was down to my last couple classes, interviewing with banks and insurance companies as I completed my bachelor’s degree in finance from Walsh College in Troy, Michigan. EDS Corp. had a large facility in Troy, Michigan, and did a lot of recruiting from Walsh, which was still tied to GM after just-recently being spun-off. This, in combination with my past automotive experience, is what got me hired as a full-time EDS contract employee at GM/ACDelco. My mechanical aptitude that I honed as a technician enabled me to excel in the group. I received two promotions in the first 18 months, going from the 1-800-ACDelco Call center in the basement of the Swartz Creek Parts plant to the ACDelco Marketing Department in Grand Blanc, GM/SPO. I believe it is called Customer Care & Aftersales now.


What has kept me here is my passion for cars. I’m a car-guy, always have been and always will be. What is that saying about a job you love and never working a day in your life?  

What do you do when not at work?

[I’m] kind of a late-bloomer with regard to family. My daughter just turned 7, so most of my home life revolves around her, but she loves cars and I’m just a big kid, so we have lots of fun.

Remember that finance degree? I am very interested in business, investment and the markets, so I say reading business journals, researching companies and anything investing, consumes most of my remaining free time.

What one word best sums up your personality?


 What kind of car do you drive?

Black GMC Sierra

What was your first car?

Black GMC Sierra

My first car (truck) was my dad’s – a 1975 GMC Sierra, 350 4bbl, manual transmission, no-power steering, no-power brakes, “Three on the Tree.” It was originally pastel green, I called it “slime green” it rusted so bad. We replaced all the body-panels, the rockers, cab-corners, floor-boards, we re-did the entire thing and I painted black metal flake. In honor of my father who recently passed, I decided it was time for another Black GMC Sierra – except this one is loaded, not stripped!


Do you have a nickname?

Written, I like to see my full name, Edward, but if someone asks, I say “Ed is fine, I’ve been called worse.”

Do you have a hidden talent?

I don’t really have any “hidden talents” but I use to race motocross bikes when I was a bit younger, now I just ride for fun.

What are you currently reading?

I love to read, but books per-se were never my thing. I must have gotten this habit from my father. Like him I like to read the newspaper and I subscribe to a lot of automotive and business/personal finance publications.

Who was your childhood hero?

Wow … When I was a kid, it was probably someone like Joe Montana. Today I would say my dad. He taught me so much; I attribute my personal success to the skill of critical thinking, common sense and work ethic he instilled in me.

If you could time-travel, to where and what in era would you want to visit?

[To the] 1920s-30s on the shipyards where my grandfather worked.

Favorite quote/mantra/motto?

If you don’t have time to do it right, how do you have time to do it twice?

Know someone who would make a great candidate for our “Five Minutes With” feature? Email AMN Editor Amy Antenora.



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