Getting to know our 2017 DOTY finalists: Harman Heavy Vehicle Specialists

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Updated Aug 3, 2017

If you missed it last week, we have announced our finalists for the 2017 Truck Parts & Service Distributor of the Year award. This year’s finalists include four past finalists and a past winner, as well as one newcomer to the program.

As is the case for the fifth consecutive year, our finalists were selected through an open nomination period by the entire trucking community. We will spend this week briefly checking in with our 2017 finalists. Today we cover Harman Heavy Vehicle Specialists with Vice President of Operations and Marketing Ian Johnston. This is the third consecutive Distributor of the Year nomination for Harman HVS. 

When was your business founded, and by whom?

Harman Supply Co. was founded in 1938 by Roy Harman as a two-person supply company and brake re-lining shop. Through the 40s the company grew and in 1955 under new ownership, Ralph Johnston and Gordon Everett, Harman Automotive Supply was born. Harman’s continued to expand over the next couple of decades before the third-generation owners, Jay Johnston and Rob Everett moved Harman’s focus to heavy-duty parts distribution with Harman Heavy Vehicle Specialists, Ltd. That focus continues today heading into our 80th year in business under the fourth-generation of owners, Jay and Ian Johnston, with continued expansion in locations, product lines, service and drive-line manufacturing.

How many locations do you have?

We currently have three locations in total off the 401 Highway corridor, with two brand new warehouses focused on part sales and distribution in Cambridge, Ontario, and Woodstock, Ontario. We also have a dedicated vehicle service division, with parts distribution and in-house driveline manufacturing and repair located in Ayr, Ontario.

How many employees do you have?

Corporately we have 50 employees split between our three locations.

What is your company’s value proposition?

Harman’s value proposition is simple; great quality service. Give the customer what they want, when they want it, for a fair price. We are not the cheapest place in town for a reason, as we feel quality service costs a little more but provides a superior value for the customer.

In addition to parts sales, what other services do you offer?

In addition to parts sales Harman HVS offers complete vehicle and trailer repairs and maintenance, PTO and wet-line outfitting, heavy-duty alignments, flywheel resurfacing and exchange program, custom driveline manufacturing and repair as well as custom hydraulic hose building.

How do you differentiate your business from your competitors?

Harman’s tries to differentiate itself from everyone else by offering the best quality service we can. That means having the right part at a fair price, but it also means having great quality people who our customers can rely on time and again for that great service. Harman’s prides itself with having an amazing group of dedicated long-term employees which allows us to offer such high level service.

Why do you believe the heavy-duty aftermarket has nominated you for this award?

I believe we were nominated for two reasons. Firstly, Harman HVS has always been extremely involved within the heavy-duty industry for decades, volunteering our time and effort for industry groups and associations as well as various industry initiatives. We believe in the heavy-duty industry and we feel compelled to give back because strengthening our industry will only stand to help our companies in the long run.

Secondly, I feel we were nominated because the consistent and targeted growth plan that Harman HVS has been executing over the past four to five years. We have changed our focus, changed our operations right down to two completely new warehouses in the past 27 months and with the help of our key vendors, we have really driven successful results. I think our vendors notice this and are highlighting this with another DOTY nomination in 2017.

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