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Executive Interview

AMN Executive Interview: Jason Best Of Spectra Premium Industries Discusses Global Expansion And Manufacturing

In today’s AMN Executive Interview, Best talks about Spectra Premium’s recent global expansion and manufacturing, as well as the company’s heavy involvement in motorsports. 

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AMN Editor Amy Antenora has been reporting daily on the automotive aftermarket since 2002. She also is editor of AMN Global and serves as managing editor of Counterman magazine, AMN’s sister publication for the parts distribution segment. Prior to joining Babcox Media, Amy began her career as a newspaper reporter and went on to work in public relations for two state universities. She is a graduate of Kent State University and in 2009 earned the Automotive Aftermarket Professional (AAP) designation from Northwood University’s University of the Aftermarket.

Jason Best, senior vice president, Aftermarket, at Spectra Premium, recently celebrated his 25th year in the aftermarket industry. He serves on the AIA Canada board of directors as first vice chair and is an active member of the Automotive Aftermarket Suppliers Association.

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In today’s AMN Executive Interview, Best talks about Spectra Premium’s recent global expansion and manufacturing, as well as the company’s heavy involvement in motorsports. 

Involvement in motorsports has become increasingly valuable for Spectra Premium over the past year. Can you bring us up to speed on some of your racing partnerships and how the company has benefitted?

Our involvement aims to increase brand notoriety at the consumer level for the North American and European markets and to develop a performance product on the tracks. We entered a strategic partnership with racing teams and Toyota Racing Development (TRD) to utilize our high-performance radiator in motorsports today while looking at future OEM opportunities.

Our high-performance radiator had an excellent season this year in the NASCAR Pinty’s Series in Canada as it won the championship aboard Louis-Philippe Dumoulin’s racecar. Over the 13-race season, our radiator tallied five wins, 16 podiums and 18 top-five finishes overall. We also started the production of high-performance radiators for grassroots stock-car series, like the APC series in Ontario, Canada.

As part of our brand recognition strategy, we broadened the scope of our investment in motorsports. In concert with partners Dumoulin Competition and the NASCAR Whelen Euro series, we organized a historical NASCAR drivers exchange between Canada and Europe that took place at the Grand Prix de Trois-Rivieres in August, and on the Zolder circuit in Belgium last weekend where our driver Jean-François Dumoulin drove a Spectra Premium-branded Toyota Camry featuring our racing radiator. We also have partnered with Monster Energy NASCAR Cup series team Gaunt Brothers

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Racing for four races and NASCAR Camping World Trucks series team Kyle Busch Motorsports for one race in Ontario.

Spectra has announced a number of executive appointments over the past few weeks/months. Is this part of an overall restructuring – what are the changes being made?

These structural changes in our aftermarket division seek to bring about greater cohesion across product lines in category management and product development in order to improve market coverage and first-to-market launches. To that effect, Eric Renaud now heads the entire aftermarket category management department as corporate director – Category Management, and Aaron Athey leads the aftermarket product development also as corporate director. At the same time, to ensure the collaboration between these key departments, we created a new supervisory vice president position involving Martin Brazeau as vice president Aftermarket Product.

In August, Spectra acquired a Swedish business called TechRoI Fuel Systems. Please bring us up to speed on the integration of this company into Spectra. Is it being absorbed or maintained as a separate brand and business?

The acquisition of TechROi AB represents another key milestone toward the globalization of our operations with a significant access to the European OEM market and the diversification of our customer base. Spectra Premium has injected production and human resources into TechROi Fuel Systems’ engineering center, fuel testing lab, administrative offices and stainless steel fuel tanks manufacturing center in order to raise its quality control and engineering processes as well as its production efficiency to Spectra Premium’s standards and best practices.

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On the one hand, this acquisition will serve to further our steel fuel tank knowledge for the aftermarket, while on the other, our whole aftermarket fuel delivery product lines will access TechROi Fuel System’s state-of-the-art testing laboratory and our new in-house testing capabilities.

Utilizing the latest technologies seems important to Spectra. Tell us what kind of investment Spectra Premium has made this year in terms of technology?

This year, we have invested mostly in our corporate website and mobile application. In addition to a revamped aftermarket section with more detailed, search-engine optimized (SEO) content, the new global website includes OEM, Tooling and Motorsports sections.  The updated mobile-responsive design fully supports 5 languages (English, French, Spanish, Italian and German) to reflect the growing network of our supplier and customer base.

Our mobile application has received a product content update and additional features like an easier navigation, an improved where-to-buy functionality, and new push notifications. I invite everyone to download the latest version of the application to receive the latest exciting announcements about prizes and giveaways at AAPEX.

How will Spectra be affected by the Tri-Lateral Trade Agreement that was recently agreed upon by the U.S., Canada and Mexico? 

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Spectra Premium would have been more affected by an absence of agreement between the three countries than by the future iteration of the Tri-Lateral Agreement. As such, we welcome the signing of this trade deal, and the continuation of free trade on the continent. The automotive requirements have a greater impact on the OEM division of Spectra Premium than the aftermarket side with the new 75 percent requirement of automotive parts made in North America. If ratified, the new deal may open up new opportunities for fuel tank assembly manufacturing when domestic automakers will consider North American alternatives to their current parts suppliers.

In February, Spectra Premium announced it was the first company to offer CAPA-certified radiators for use in collision repair. What goes into this process, and how does Spectra benefit from such a certification?

The CAPA certification initiative serves as a key differentiator to position Spectra Premium as a quality radiator manufacturer in the collision industry, and in the aftermarket as a whole. To become the world’s first and only radiator manufacturer to receive this facility and product certifications, we worked closely with CAPA over the past few years. We succeeded to comply with the new CAPA 601 Radiator Standard, which evaluates fit, material composition, dimensions, appearance, function, construction and retaining OE features through a series of rigorous tests. As the first and only CAPA-Certified radiators went into production at the beginning of this year, we successfully completed the first phase of radiators certification as planned and currently offer more than 30 CAPA-Certified parts for 30 million vehicles in operation on American roads.

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What industry issues are the leadership at Spectra most focused on at the moment and why (tariffs, right to repair, parts proliferation, cybersecurity, etc.)? 

As a global manufacturer with an international distribution network, a sizeable portion of our manufacturing operations are located in North America, and our vast supply network is located outside of the tariff-affected area. However, like other manufacturers, these tariffs had an impact on us, and we are looking to continue our supply chain expansion as long as the alternatives meet our high requirements for quality materials and quality control. To meet the challenges of our growing global distribution network, we invested in the expansion of our distribution center in Greenfield, Indiana. We are also developing our safety stock and forecasting capabilities with software implementation and data analysis. Finally, we are putting into effect several logistics policies and a new vendor performance measurement program to ensure world-class supply reliability.

Will you be presenting at AAPEX 2018? Anything new from Spectra Premium? 

Spectra Premium will have increased visibility at its new location in the Automotive Parkway at booth No. 5036, where we will showcase the new product initiatives mentioned previously: the NASCAR high-performance radiator, CAPA radiators and the new grommet-style charge air coolers. Moreover, we have introduced new engine management technology with our replacement multifunction air intake sensors that measure humidity, air intake temperature and barometric pressure, which also will be featured.

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With an optimized design, our booth will present our new mobile app and website. We look forward seeing you at booth No. 5036, where we will feature an exciting motorsports presence.

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