Transtar's Values-Centric Vision Drives its Transformation

Transtar’s Values-Centric Vision Drives its Transformation

How Transtar is innovating and simplifying complex vehicle repair through strategic values-based partnerships.

Cleveland-based Transtar Industries is in the midst of an exciting transformation, one that focuses on setting the company up for success, not just today but for the aftermarket industry of tomorrow. In May 2022, Transtar announced its expansion into its first non-transmission product category, with the launch of a comprehensive line of vehicle air conditioning parts, components and tools – a first in the company’s 48-year history.

Then this past March, the company took another leap forward on its growth path. At this time, Transtar announced its acquisition of C&M Auto Parts, a full-line warehouse distributor based in Trenton, New Jersey, and a longtime member of the Pronto Network. C&M Auto Parts will operate as an independent business unit of Transtar Holding Co. with current C&M Auto Parts President Glenn Morreale joining Transtar’s Executive Leadership Team.

With more than 70 locations across the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico, Transtar today focuses on its core strengths of technology, distribution and manufacturing, with an integrated portfolio of brands. In addition to the acquisitions and strategic product line expansions that have marked the past several years, the company recently took steps to re-assess and establish a very clearly outlined culture that defines everything Transtar does today.

In the September 2022 AMN cover story, “Transforming Transtar,” Transtar Holding Co. President and CEO Neil Sethi shared details on the process of re-missioning the business through a Values-Based Leadership System (VBLS). The result became what the company calls its “Mission/Vision/Values” – a series of tenets and principles that have created the foundation for the future of Transtar.

The March 2023 acquisition of C&M Auto Parts helped further solidify Transtar’s expansion goals, however Sethi said sharing common values was a primary motivator in the solidifying the deal.

“Their impressive growth trajectory, quality products and focus on values-based culture perfectly suits our strategic goals,” said Sethi of C&M in the acquisition announcement.

“Values are what we lead with. We were in the process of looking at partners that we could bring into the Transtar family and through a series of conversations and networking within Pronto we met Glenn,” Sethi shared in a recent interview. “I would say, candidly, about 80% of our initial conversations were about values, our shared vision on people, our shared vision on customer service, and from there, everything else unfolded. That was kind of the glue that permitted us to really combine forces.”

A Technology-Centric Organization

Transtar’s Mission/Vision/Values transformation is helping the company quickly evolve from its foundations as a leading distributor of transmission and driveline parts for transmission shops, to a technology-centric organization serving broader general repair markets. Sethi said while their value-based culture will remain a constant, there’s a lot of change happening at Transtar currently. “Transtar is evolving,” Sethi said. “We want to stay grounded on our 48-year legacy of being highly customer-centric, shop-focused and relationship-driven – our values and our culture aren’t going to change – but there’s a lot of change happening with respect to products, customers, service and technology.”

Commenting on the C&M acquisition and the additional benefits of now becoming a Pronto Network member, Sethi added, “I think that the true benefit for us is really ahead of us, and it’s what we’re working hard on right now, with respect to product line extensions and geographic extensions, to serve our customers, current and new.”

Transtar’s inclusion in the Pronto Network not only provides members with access to the company’s broad  network across the U.S., Canada, and Puerto Rico, but also to its patent-winning e-commerce platform, Transend. Transend is the company’s proprietary e-commerce system created to make the entire buying experience for repair shops simpler and easier. Sethi hopes that in addition to bringing its own wholesale distribution expertise as a supplier, that there is also opportunity to integrate other Pronto members into the e-commerce system.

Transtar Holding Co. President and CEO Neil Sethi: “Values are what we lead with.”

“The e-commerce vision we created was really to be a solutions-oriented e-commerce system, not just offer product availability and pricing like traditional commerce, but to really solve procurement challenges, connecting diagnostics with procurement,” Sethi said. “Our starting point was in the transmission category, but as we began to further investigate strategies to expand product lines in other segments, we realized that simplifying complex vehicle repair, which is our mission, is actually very applicable to almost every category in automotive. The complexity of the vehicle systems doesn’t stop with just the transmission platforms. It extends everywhere. So, we think Transend’s mission and vision will allow us to partner with more than just Transtar the distributor, but with other distributors and bring great value and solutions to customers, ultimately.”

Whether it’s an e-commerce platform, a bigger distribution footprint, a diagnostic product or a product line expansion, or a new partnership based on a shared vision, collaboration and innovation, Sethi said it’s all about solving problems, eliminating pain points and being a reliable resource for customers.

“There’s a saying at Transtar, ‘We don’t want your order, we want your business.’ To us, business is mutual alignment to help solve problems. It’s a partnership. That’s why I love our industry because it’s highly collaborative,” Sethi shared.

“Another saying we have is, ‘You could work in the business or on the business.’ We do both, but we work on the business a lot. We make mistakes and sometimes we try things that may not work, but it’s all in the spirit of becoming better and helping our customers in the best way that we can. Organizations are living, breathing entities. We certainly are, and we’re one that is evolving. We like to move quickly too at the same time. So, we’re super excited about these different paths that we’re on.”

When you integrate value into your decision-making, Sethi affirmed, it represents the fabric of who you are — the pillars and legacy upon which your business was built. “We will restrict ourselves by whether or not there is values alignment. And, so that’s true to whether it’s product line extensions, who we partner with, with acquisitions, and just daily decision-making. It’s nothing that you can ever take for granted. And, the work is never completed. It’s ever-evolving … you have to put effort into it every day,” Sethi concluded.

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