In My Opinion: It happened

Heavy Duty Aftermarket Week and the Commercial Vehicle Solutions Network have come together to make CVSN an integral part of the next HDAW in January of 2008 in Las Vegas. And, the following year, CVSN will become a full partner in the ownership and management of HDAW. In fact, we now have one annual meeting place for the truck parts business, HDAW, and one unified voice for independent distributors in the marketplace, CVSN. In my opinion, it can’t be more win-win than that!

Does this news guarantee success for HDAW? Hardly! Does it guarantee that CVSN will prosper? No way. What it does do, however, is put in place a system that, with a lot of hard work by a lot of people, can facilitate success and prosperity for both.

Most of you probably will recall my ranting and raving in the past on this subject. Frankly, I became a bit one dimensional. I pulled up every quote I could muster to support my premise that the industry had to find a way to bring these two groups together. The most obvious was Benjamin Franklin’s observation at the signing of the Declaration of Independence, “We must all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately.”

To be sure, the truck parts aftermarket has challenges today. Some call business flat, some call it soft and some say it is below projections. Technological change has been relatively quiet lately, but big changes are on the horizon. Government has had other things to think about and has almost left us alone lately, but this pleasant lull won’t last forever. We can count on them refocusing on ways to make our lives difficult at some point in the future. These and other outside forces must be faced, but the unified industry we have today is much better able to do so.

So, after several years of false starts, how did this coming together happen? What event or events propelled us forward to the eventual successful conclusion? As often happens, my sources tell me, there was no moment of total clarity, no blinding flash of lights. Rather, it resulted from a number of intelligent people calmly finding a way to get the job done right.

They say success has many fathers, and I’m told that was the case here, but several names are mentioned by almost all the people to whom I spoke. In absolutely no particular order, most observers credit Marc Karon of Total Truck Parts with being a major factor. He is an extremely intelligent man who can talk common sense and practice diplomacy, and in the pivotal meeting that brought the two sides together in Chicago, I understand he did both.

The incoming CVSN chairman, Ken Duval of Canadian Wheel Industries, also was reported to have been a major player. Unknown to many of the other participants because of his Canadian location, and lack of a broad truck parts line coverage, he was in the unique position of bringing no “baggage,” good or bad, to the negotiations, and thus could create his own “baggage” during the meeting. I’m told he created mostly a strong impression and was a very positive factor.

The third player most often mentioned was Jerry Weis, HDAW chairman and president of Ott’s Friction Supply. Simply one of the nicest men I’ve ever met, Jerry can charm the spots off a die, and he has told me over the course of the last two years that outside of Ott’s, nothing in the business was as important to him as seeing CVSN and HDAW come together. He got his wish, and I suspect he had a lot to do with the final outcome.

Strong distributor participation was important, but without manufacturer support, nothing would have happened. Joe Mejaly of ArvinMeritor provided that support. Universally, I’m told that Joe’s dedication to this concept was a central driver in its success.

It happened. How and why are important, but the real news is that it happened.

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