It’s been just more than a year since Gabriel struck out on its own, severing ties with a distribution network that funneled through a long-standing single-source distribution relationship.
Since that time, Gabriel has added 44 new truck, trailer and bus SKUs and 116 new competitive interchanges to its coverage. All are listed in the newly available Gabriel 2014 catalog, which has been increased by 762 lines.
“We had to revamp everything,” Mike Lipski, Gabriel’s vice president of sales and marketing, says. “Before, we couldn’t market our product or call on customers ourselves.”
Lipski says customer response has been “overwhelming,” and allowed the company to hold several training sessions last year to educate customers about their products.
The company’s three-pronged marketing strategy includes relationship building and training, all of which are well underway.
The current phase involves an education process that looks at shocks and how they affect other components from a cost perspective.
“It’s showing fleets how to save money,” Lipski says. “A fleet’s two biggest expenses are fuel and tires. Shocks wear tires if they’re worn shocks.”
The company’s goal going into its second year is to grow marketshare.
“Before, there was a risk of getting customers to come back. They didn’t know us,” Lipski says of Gabriel’s efforts to market themselves. “They hadn’t been able to talk to us for years. We didn’t know the customer base. They weren’t our customers.”
But once Gabriel got in the door, they found a warm reception.
“Several of our customers project double-digit increases (in sales this year),” Lipski says.
“We’ve been able to completely replace our previous business while servicing our customers’ needs better by adding marketing, product and training support previously unavailable,” says Gerry Stea, Director OE and Aftermarket HD Sales. “Now that we communicate directly with our customers, we know their requests and are able to act. It’s the key to our success.”
With an all-new Gabriel sales force, the company now offers training to help distributors and/or their customer base understand the unique benefits of Gabriel products, maintenance parameters and other common issues. The company has developed a training presentation as well as a number of hand-out materials to provide in training sessions. Interested customers should call Gabriel customer service at 800-251-5932.