Portrait: Commercial Vehicle Solutions Network

Although The Commercial Vehicle Solutions Network (CVSN) is a young association, that has not stopped its members-independent aftermarket distributors-from reaching their goals. Since the association’s inception, the members have met their main objective of reducing the number of industry meetings, and they continue to grow their membership base.

The incoming CVSN president is Ken Duval, president, Canadian Wheel Industries Ltd., Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. His two-year term will begin in Baltimore, where he will be sworn in at the association’s annual meeting, taking place September 16th to 20th.

Unlike many in the industry, Duval’s career didn’t begin in the back of a shop or under a truck. He was a chartered accountant in public practice for 14 years when he came across the opportunity to buy Canadian Wheel Industries in 1992.

“Most of the staff knew me because of my role as the auditor, and I think that created anxiety for them; they thought of me as just a numbers cruncher. But it didn’t take long for them to realize I was less of a numbers cruncher and more of a guy who is not afraid to work,” Duval said.

“On the flip side, it didn’t take me long to realize that I couldn’t help my employees do their jobs better or know what to expect from them unless I knew exactly what they did everyday.

“So I worked the counter, I helped in the warehouse and I went out on the road with the salespeople and met our customers. I found out what was necessary to help this business function, while also learning as much about the industry as I could,” he said.

Duval was slated to be president of the National Wheel And Rim Association before the merger with the Council Of Fleet Specialists took place, so instead, “I took a two-year hiatus to function as treasurer of CVSN.”

He explained, “The merger was precipitated by the need to create a strong distributor-based association and to decrease the number of industry meetings. We’ve stayed true to that. We’re up to about 90 distributor members and we’ve taken two meetings out of the industry-we’ve gotten there.”

The next objective, Duval said, was to create a new association. “We’re starting to redevelop who we are. Robin Spitzke-Kent (of Fort Garry Industries), CVSN’s current president, was an excellent choice for our first president because she had fresh, exciting ideas, and she had the support of both the distributor and manufacturer sides. She was able to get everyone together and make it work.”

When asked what he plans to do once he takes the reigns as president, Duval said that he wants to focus on improving the relationship between the distributors and the manufacturers.

“When you get down to it, this is a people business. Over the years I’ve met people who have been in trucking for more than 30 years and they would talk about where the industry has gone and what it’s done, how it’s evolved and where it’s headed-you just can’t read that in a book,” he said.

It’s the same with our manufacturers, he added. “We’re a distributor-based association, but we need the support of our suppliers; they are our greatest source for product education.”

Duval went on to say that sharing ideas and practices often is a concern. “Everyone wants to hold their cards close, but there’s a lot of common ground between us that we can build on to become a strong, collective group as well as become stronger individual businesses,” he said.

Over the next year, Duval said that CVSN must weld the bond between the manufacturers and distributors. “As long as we’re willing to talk to one another, we all will benefit and learn,” he said.

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