Testing and raw material sourcing were hot topics during an active discussion between OEM and Aftermarket suppliers during Service Opportunities Learning Days (SOLD) Monday in Las Vegas.
With seven industry experts on hand — three OEM reps and four aftermarket pros — a wide selection of questions were posed to the group about how similarities and differences between their operations impact their ability to service customers in the market.
Each OEM supplier spoke to the value of full-scale product and system designs when producing their OE aftermarket products.
Focusing on suspension systems, SAF-Holland’s Carl Mesker, vice president of Aftermarket, says his company engineers and designs all of its suspensions as a complete unit. Each component is designed to work with its counterpart, and every part within the system is sourced using extremely robust and consistent standards. Mesker says that’s an advantage an aftermarket supplier can’t duplicate.
But aftermarket suppliers say they are aware of the OEM-quality levels and strive to reach and exceed those standards with their components.
Gary Smalley, president and CEO at Dayton Parts, says his company acquires and tests OEM products, discovers their performance standards and then works tirelessly to design equal components at equal performance levels.
Triangle Suspension’s Vice President of Sales and Marketing Vince Roth adds that finding the right supplier to source raw materials ensures the best aftermarket product is built.
“We source a lot of products from the same suppliers as OEMs,” he says.
Regarding training, Ed Powderly, business development manager at Hendrickson, says his company dedicates significant time in testing its current products in efforts to improve. And as an OEM supplier, the company can test complete suspension systems, not just individual parts, for weaknesses.
This allows the company to identify situations where two parts can be enhanced together to increase the overall performance of the entire system.
The aftermarket must do that a different way.
Automann’s CJ Khanduja, vice president, says his company partners with its OEM contemporaries to aid in product testing. This allows the company to ensure its product will always perform perfectly when installed in the aftermarket.
And despite their differences, there are areas where the panelists are aligned. Distribution is one key area. Both Roth and Mesker say their businesses are fully committed and dependent on their independent distribution partners.