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5 Minutes With

Five Minutes With Ted Hughes, Team Leader — Program Development, MAHLE Clevite

Every so often, our editorial staff selects one aftermarket industry professional to get to know a little better. In this new feature, 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. This week, we hear from Ted Hughes, Team Leader — Program Development, MAHLE Clevite Inc.


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


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Ted Hughes

Team Leader – Program Development
MAHLE Clevite
Ann Arbor, Mich.

In this edition of “Five Minutes With,” we get to know a little more about Ted and what inspires him both at work and at play. In addition to his long career with MAHLE Clevite, Ted is an active volunteer both in the industry and in his personal life. He is past chairman of Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association’s Leadership Development Network and also serves on the Automotive Communication Council.



What was your first job in the industry?

Immediately following high school I worked in an ISO-certified steel recycler/manufacturer that produced steel for many of the major new car manufacturers. I started at 17 years old as a general laborer. Working full-time throughout college, I worked my way up to shift foreman. This is really where I developed my love for business and working with many diverse types of people.

The most important thing I learned was that working outside in the freezing cold Michigan winters was not what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. It definitely served as an incentive to finish school with my BBA in marketing. However, many of the lessons I learned back then continue to guide my decision-making today.



What do you like best about your current position?

The thing I love most about my position now is the multitude of responsibilities across the different marketing disciplines. Each day is something different and usually exciting. I like the creative side involved in developing new advertisements or promotions, and I like this new world of broadening our electronic capabilities in order to stay in better touch with customers further down the distribution channels. The changes in our business over the past decade have provided a reason, or better yet a necessity, to look at things a different way. While nobody wants change for the sake of change, the uncertainty of these times provides a unique opportunity to explore new directions and opportunities.


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

When I finished college, I had no intention of getting into the aftermarket. Hell, I barely knew how to spell aftermarket. All I knew was that I had student loans to pay and I needed a job. Through a good bit of fortune, I landed at the Clevite Engine Parts division of Dana Corporation. There, thanks to people like John Washbish, Jerry McCabe and Max Dull, I found a home. Before long, I discovered the excitement of the aftermarket, pretty much the norm for our business, and knew this was the place for me. Every step since then, I have been able to learn from some pretty smart and dynamic people. Aside from Jerry McCabe, I have worked for guys like Terry Shively, Scott Howat, Jesse Jones, and now Dan Moody. Each of those personalities differ greatly, yet the burning desire to succeed runs deep throughout each of them, and that is a quality that I pride myself in possessing.


What one word best sums up your personality?

In a word, it would be “Cautiously Adventurous.” Okay, so that is really two words, but they are dependent on each other. I am neither cautious nor adventurous by themselves – but if you put them together – I am both. I learned long ago that life is too short to not take chances and always take the safe or easy road. I believe in taking chances, but they must be measured and calculated chances. I believe in living with no regrets, but my family is the most important thing in my life and my primary responsibility is taking care of them above all else. I love following politics, but I generally despise politicians. My world is a complicated one full of paradox and contradictions – but I would not change a single thing about it.



What are you currently reading?

“Jimmy Buffett and Philosophy: The Porpoise Driven Life” is what I am reading right now. It is a collection of essays by some of the nation’s leading professors of philosophy that also happen to be big Jimmy Buffett fans. I am the biggest Jimmy Buffett fan I know. He has been the background music to my life for 20 years. But reading essays from people a whole lot smarter than me, making compelling arguments for Jimmy Buffett to be placed on a level with some of history’s greatest philosophers is really humorous in itself. I do classify it as a must-read for anyone who thinks they are a “Parrothead.”



What do you do when not at work?

If I said “play golf” before family I would be in trouble. So, first and foremost, I am a devoted family man. My wife Lisa and I have a 9-year-old daughter and a 3-year-old son. Virtually all time away from work is spent with them – generally having as much fun as possible. That said, I grew up a big fan of all sports. I played hockey and baseball my whole life, then football in high school. Today, I still play hockey and softball – though, the competitive leagues have given way to the beer leagues. I also try to devote as much time as I can to volunteering in various community and civic causes. Twice a year, our whole family spends time at local food banks or soup kitchens to not only help those less fortunate – but also to keep perspective on the many blessings we have in our lives each day.



Favorite quote/mantra/motto?

“Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” – Confucius