In this exclusive Q&A with Dan Schildge, CEO of CRP Industries, he brings us up to speed on the company’s strategy going forward, following its divestiture of the ContiTech aftermarket belt program. Schildge also talks about rebranding the AAE line and his vision for the company over the next few years.
CRP recently sold the ContiTech aftermarket belt program to Continental and is expanding its investments in other core company brands including REIN, Pentosin, AAE and AJUSA. Tell us about these changes and what they mean for CRP.
This is another step in our journey and a pretty big change. We have partnered with Continental for almost 70 years, so there is a lot of history there with our customers and employees. This deal made sense ever since Continental acquired Veyance in 2014 and became active in the market alongside the ContiTech brand. They wanted to unify their approach to the market and we wanted to re-allocate resources in remanufacturing and other areas of innovation. We are both committed to making the transition smooth for our customers and so far, it has been successful.
Meanwhile, we’ve invested in a new factory in Conway, South Carolina, for remanufacturing electric-power steering. This state-of-the art plant will greatly expand our capacity and help us to continuously improve our program in terms of application coverage, service levels and quality.
Additionally, a renewed focus on product innovation is at the heart of all our brands. We have a relationship with professional repair technicians through our Innovation Council. This highly engaged group provides a very strong repair shop voice of customer insight as to what the challenges are with today’s repairs. We in turn use this insight to deliver innovative repair solutions that successfully address these issues.
CRP also recently rebranded the AAE brand. Please give us an update on the changes.
We acquired AAE in 2015, and since then have updated the look and feel of the brand with a fresh logo and new marketing campaign. Furthermore, we have significantly improved the processes, capabilities and program of AAE. We felt it was time to invest in the brand to catch up with the investments we’ve made in the business.
AAE is fully integrated into CRP and lives up to our values of “Quality, Service, and Trust.” We are committed to remanufacturing in the United States, as proven by our new plant in Conway, South Carolina, and our existing plant in nearby Tabor City, North Carolina. “Remade in America” and “Red, White, & True” are parts of our new branding. As a third-generation family and veteran-owned business, we have long been committed to the U.S. Nothing makes me prouder than to create new jobs in this country.
What are CRP’s plans for any further brand divestitures, or on the flipside, any new acquisitions on the horizon?
We do not have any plans for future brand divestitures. We are very happy with the brands we have. The Continental deal was a one-off, an anomaly that just made too much sense for both partners.
Regarding acquisitions, nothing is in our sights. We do keep our eyes open for companies that can bring us new capabilities or markets, which can help us bring value to the professionals that keep vehicles running. As you may have noticed, that task is getting harder and harder for technicians as the technology advances in vehicles. We are here to help.
In July, CRP was presented with the Best Reman Business Innovation Award for the AAE Steering Systems brand by ReMaTec in the Netherlands. Congrats! Can you talk to us about the reman business and why it’s a valuable market for CRP to serve?
We are committed to remanufacturing. We were humbled to receive the award at ReMaTec, in recognition of the innovative remanufacturing processes that we have built and continuously improve. A very clear trend in cars today is that components continue to get more complex and expensive. We are convinced that there will be a rapidly growing need for remanufacturing to help keep repair costs down for vehicles. One of the trends that we do not like to see is young cars headed to the junkyard over cost of repair. We hope to play a role in reversing that trend. We can do that through innovative, problem-solving kits and through remanufacturing expensive or hard to get components.
As mentioned already, we have heavily invested in remanufacturing. CRP is an approved participant in the Motor & Equipment Remanufacturers Association’s (MERA) Manufactured Again Certification program. There are a number of very good remanufacturers serving the market and we are one of them. We are proud of the progress that we have made so far and look forward to growing for many years to come.
Also, what does CRP’s international footprint look like with all of its various brands?
We are headquartered in New Jersey. We serve customers throughout the NAFTA market and have people and businesses in the US, Mexico, and Canada. We remanufacture at our own plants in North and South Carolina. Outside of North America, we source products and components globally today, with an emphasis on Europe.
With all of the changes discussed earlier, what is your overall vision for CRP Industries?
CRP is THE service-market partner for creating solutions to problems caused by advanced technology.
We articulated this vision a year ago and it tells you exactly where we are headed. We are actively working to create solutions for professional repair technicians, as they deal with the challenges of advancing vehicle technology. This is not a completely new idea for us. Many of our innovations, over the years, have been addressing new challenges caused by new technology. We will continue to bring this vision to life as a commitment to our customers and the market.