Congratulations on your recent promotion to CEO of the company! What are some of your short- and long-term goals for the business?
Thank you Amy. It’s been a pleasure working with all key stakeholders in our company. We’re excited about the vision for the business and what we will accomplish. Short term, we are establishing ourselves as the one-stop shop for any distributor who is looking for high quality steering components. We think differently, and have assembled a team that challenges me every day to shed my old way of thinking about the aftermarket. They are contrarian thinkers and I love debate and civil discourse – they make me and the company better.
Longer term, we will continue to focus on aftermarket parts solutions where there is an opportunity to overcome current shortfalls in the quality and consistency offered today. Our goal is focused 100% on keeping every technician satisfied with the reliability and performance of the aftermarket parts we provide. We don’t want them going back to the OE dealer because of any negative perceptions about our quality, form, or fitment.
In September, the company sold its retail segment to Highline Aftermarket to better focus on the company’s core business segments. Tell us about this change and your overall vision for the company going forward.
Plews & Edelmann previously operated two unique business units. While there was some customer overlap, the vast majority of customers who purchased from one category, didn’t purchase from the other. Based on this lack of true synergy, we made a collective decision to divest our non-automotive application parts unit to focus squarely on the application parts business for which the Edelmann brand is best known.
We’re excited about this future focus. The Edelmann brand is a 100-year-old legacy franchise known throughout North America for its quality and value. We plan on continuing the proud heritage of the brand as we expand in other categories moving forward.
Last month, the company unveiled the Edelmann Elite power steering hard parts program. What is included in the program and what makes it special?
I could go on and on about what makes our power steering hard parts unique, because we’ve developed a category unlike any other that exists today. We’ve focused on several key items that have received little attention in the industry but deserve a lot more. First, we are providing a breadth of coverage that no one in the industry has. We’re not merely sourcing and re-distributing product, so we can provide top 80%+ of demand in the industry. If there is a WD or another distributor that wants to say “yes” to his customers when they ask for new power steering components, we can deliver because we are the only supplier that provides this level of coverage.
Additionally, our engineers have identified and studied the fail modes on the highest warranty SKUs, and believe me, there are many. Because we own our tooling, we can take steps to eliminate the problems. We’ve enhanced our product portfolio to overcome design flaws made by the OE and copied by aftermarket remanufacturers of power steering components. You won’t find a better aftermarket solution to your power steering needs than Plews & Edelmann.
While some suppliers can occasionally find a source for a power steering pump or gear, no one has coverage across the spectrum of power steering like Plews & Edelmann has. Take for example, a rack & pinion assembly for a 2007 Ford Taurus or a 2013 Traverse / Acadia. You couldn’t find an alternative to reman outside of an OE dealer, because it didn’t exist. But now it does with our offering! In all, we have over 60 top moving rack & pinion SKUs that you can’t find elsewhere in the industry – that’s a key advantage and uniqueness.
Our engineers have also been hard at work designing a unique, serviceable hydraulic filter under the Edelmann Elite brand that consolidates 100% of the filter SKUs on the market today into one SKU. Our innovative design delivers a universal fit that is an industry first for this product type and I am proud of the team and their efforts. It will be offered in the first quarter next year.
What are some of the biggest issues you see when it comes to power steering and how does the Edelmann Elite program address these issues?
In a word, warranty. It’s no secret that high warranty rates plague the power steering aftermarket. There are many reasons for this issue. It starts with properly diagnosing the repair and then replacing all power steering components such as hard parts, hose, reservoir, and fluid. What we are seeing is that too many technicians are moving away from the aftermarket on certain power steering repairs and going back to the OE dealer for their parts needs. We need to win back those technicians with high quality new aftermarket power steering solutions to their problems, and that’s what we intend to do.
Many analysts are expecting an uptick in business in 2021. What are your expectations for the aftermarket in the coming year?
We’re bullish on 2021. Once we get COVID behind us, we believe there will be a significant uptick in the indicators that matter most to the aftermarket. We plan on a robust second half of 2021 as health is restored and we get back to normalcy.