Trade union22 September 2021
Later this year, Haldex is expanding its product range for international parts distributors in Europe and beyond. The range will include Grau-branded automatic brake adjusters for the first time, and they will reach customers through the international trading group TEMOT. Its chief services officer Thomas Kobudzinski explains the purpose of the organisation, introduces its relationship with Haldex and explains how it operates to the benefit customers of CV parts.
Thomas Kobudzinski says: “For the big operator fleets, it’s a pain to carry the service costs of commercial vehicles. They can buy a maintenance contract. But what are they going to do when their truck is not in Germany or France but in Romania, because one of its customers has a plant there? When big fleets purchase a truck and trailer from an OE, its support is very good. But on the service side, at the repair level, there are also some challenges delivering that service.”
This is where TEMOT comes in. He points out that within Europe, most commercial vehicle parts buyers are most likely to be either the fleet operators that maintain their own vehicles, or third-party service agents that carry out maintenance on the fleet’s behalf, rather than independent garages. And the maintenance service providers are particularly significant, because of their economies of scale. Observes Kobudzinski: “From as few as 20 vehicles in Germany it is cost-effective to employ them. Forty to fifty percent of German operators have them.” And their buying decisions are largely independent of OE decision-making. This is different to the passenger car business, which dominates automotive aftermarket parts supply.
He continues with the point but shifts perspective to consider the point of view of the supplier. “If you are an OEM (original equipment manufacturer), and you are trying to compete for the business of a fleet operator that wants an international treatment, what should you do? You need to have good contacts that you can rely on in different countries. This is the magic of a commercial vehicle network that is growing up internationally. We have a group of family-owned businesses that are collaborating as shareholders and are not international giants like Mercedes-Benz.”
In TEMOT’s global network, a limited number of distributors are allowed per country, to avoid internal competition. The idea is different to other buying groups. “Even if the purchase volume is a bit smaller, we encourage our partners to collaborate with each other. There’s a UK guy who knows someone in Italy to whom he can sell his goods and the other way too.”
This is a particular advantage in the CV world because of its fragmented nature, he adds. “The CV aftermarket is composed all of niches. You can be as big as you want, but you cannot kill off all of the small guys in the niches. For example, maybe one is only good for tail-lift applications. So, there’s enough room for a lot of guys to get into those niches, and be pretty strong against the likes of Europart,” he says, referring to a notable exception, a large full-range European distributor (of which Kobudzinksi himself is a veteran).
He estimates that TEMOT takes 5% of the European parts aftermarket, which he values at EUR20bn. The organisation handles Tier 1 supplier brands which are strong in OE, plus pure aftermarket parts. OES parts – generic, OE-branded versions of parts made by OEMs or sourced from tier 1 suppliers and sold through the aftermarket – are a key competitor. OES parts come in two types: truck and trailer.
It just happens that shares of independent distributors tend to be higher in trailer than tractor parts. And that’s one of TEMOT’s reasons why Haldex, which shares a similar product focus, fits so well with the buying group. Another is its position in the marketplace as a premium European OEM brand, adds the chief services officer: “We are developing brands; well-known brands, premium brands. We are not the guys to talk to if you are for example from India looking to reach out to Europe.”
As part of its operations, TEMOT’s Commercial Vehicle Council advises the organisation’s management. Some 20-30 shareholders meet four to six times per year. These meetings are “a good opportunity to discuss how the market is going, what are product needs, and supplier promotions and initiatives,” he adds.
In total, TEMOT works with more than 100 suppliers, many of them providing CV parts. Among them, Haldex is in a premier position. Kobudzinski explains that although TEMOT was founded in the mid-1990s, it dealt only with passenger car parts until 2013. And at that point, when it began to set up a CV organisation, Haldex was the first to be signed up. Today, TEMOT represents Haldex globally (except in North America), in a relationship that has been renewed three times. During that time, Haldex has been promoted from being an ‘associated’ to a ‘preferred’ supplier (one of 35), and with that improved status has come greater marketing support, which Kobudzinski describes as involving a kind of product management business plan.
He summarises it a different way: “We are telling our shareholders every day Haldex, Haldex, Haldex, Haldex, Haldex, like a mantra to raise awareness that Haldex is a great contributor.”
And that’s not all it does. Continues Kobudzinski: “Preferred suppliers might say, ‘that’s not good enough’, and if I were in their same shoes, I might say the same.” Either suppliers complain that a customer is not buying enough, or it is buying from a competitor, he adds. “Our role is also to give feedback to suppliers in a better way. I would hope that we have a certain trust with our shareholders. Since we are acting are on their behalf, we are able to provide a quality of feedback that exceeds what the supplier can get on its own.”
In other words, it’s a big world out there, and TEMOT works to bring carefully chosen parts suppliers and distributors closer together, for their mutual benefit.