Every so often, our editorial staff selects one aftermarket industry professional to get to know a little better. Participants are asked to respond to a series of questions that can be answered in about the same amount of time you might spend chatting at the office coffee pot or waiting for an elevator. In today’s installment of “Five Minutes With,” we get to know a little more about Melanie Hellwig White, president of Hellwig Suspension Products. Hellwig Suspension Products is a family owned and operated suspension manufacturer that is based in Visalia, California. Hellwig has produced American-made sway bars, helper springs and air spring kits since 1946.
What was your first job in the industry?
I started in sales “cold calling” for Hellwig Products. I’d look in the Yellow Pages (we still used those) and find tire, suspension and muffler shops. I ended up in some interesting places and it made me learn very quickly that I needed to know what I was talking about if I was going to sell automotive suspension.
What do you like best about your current position?
I love the people! Our customers are amazing and I feel really lucky to work for them. We have a great team at Hellwig that I feel lucky to work with as well. I wouldn’t give up my relationships with our customers or team members.
Did you initially intend to pursue a career in the aftermarket? If not, what drew you to the industry and what keeps you here?
I had a lot of other plans that did not include working in the industry, but I always wanted to work in the family business. Once I joined the aftermarket family I was hooked. We are so lucky to sell and make parts people don’t really need, but they make driving so much more fun! I definitely got hooked on the passion.
What do you do when not at work?
Outside of work I love spending time with my guys. My husband and my son are my favorite dudes. We love to hike, ride dirt bikes and get outdoors together.
What one word best sums up your personality?
What kind of car do you drive?
I drive a diesel Jeep Grand Cherokee. While filling up, I’ve had folks run over to me to tell me I’m using the wrong one.
What was your first car?
A brown Caprice Classic – we called it the Brown Bomber. It was a humbling car that had the headliner falling down and the glove compartment held up with a back scratcher. When you’d go over the railroad tracks, it’d fall down and all the glove box items would fall on the passenger. But it was freedom at 16. It also made me really appreciate nice, fast cars.
What are you currently reading?
I’m reading a book my girlfriend just wrote: “No Big Deal: From Athlete to Advocate: A Memoir of Childhood Betrayal and a Journey to Justice” by Torey Ivanic. I’m also listening – as a huge audible fan – to “Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win” by Jocko Willink.
“Make it happen.”