Earlier this month, MEMA vehicle suppliers association announced a new structure that combines its four former divisions into just two to simplify membership, better share resources and address industry-wide trends.
But why now?
Paul McCarthy, president and CEO of the MEMA Aftermarket group, and Collin Shaw, MEMA’s chief commercial vehicle officer and chief operting officer of the MEMA Original Equipment group, sat down with HDT during Heavy Duty Aftermarket Week in Grapevine, Texas, to discuss the industry landscape that drove the rebranding and tell us what the future holds for the vehicle supplier association.
These questions have been simplified for clarity, and the answers edited for brevity. Insertions for clarity are in brackets.
HDT: What is your vision for MEMA and its future?
Shaw: First of all, this year is really focused on our members and making sure they understand what we're providing, how we're there to support them, and how we're expanding; and getting them more involved with things that they haven't been involved with.
Second priority, which is a bit more of a long term one, is the people issue: leadership. Bringing people into the industry. You’ll probably hear me say it a lot. I'm really passionate about that because I do see some risk in our industry around people. Business is a personal journey. It's an emotional journey. And if we can attract the right people, we can continue this great industry. So that for me, is a bit of a longer term one on top of the other stuff we focus on around doing business and business issues.
McCarthy: As Collin said, in the next year the operational thing is making sure, for our members, that we deliver what we said, which is more value more easily.
But the other thing I'd say is we are very mission driven. And it's very simple: how do we advance the industry and champion our industry and then advance the business interests of our members? Whatever helps our members be more successful is why we exist. That helps us focus on what we need to do and focus on the issues of today and tomorrow. I want our members to know we are the commercial vehicle suppliers association; we are the aftermarket suppliers association. And they have a home here and this is where they belong.
HDT: When did restructuring come into the conversation? Why was now the time to execute the plan?
Shaw: I flew to Raleigh and met my team back in March [2022.] Bill [Long, MEMA president and CEO] sat me down and he said, “This was what I’m thinking…” I was on board. Let's do it.
I had been across the OEM world. I had been in heavy duty. I had been in a large multinational Tier 1 at ZF, which is one of the largest suppliers in the world, and I had seen how all these lines are getting blurred. And so when I sat down with Bill, I just knew this was the right direction. And when I looked at the content my team and I had built, which was fantastic, [I realized] we were pretty much tapped out. And to justify bringing on more people just to duplicate what had already been done seemed crazy to me.
There are some of these functions like, let's say HR, or purchasing, or on the aftermarket side business: technology, data, ecommerce. Yes, they are different segments of the same industry. But the issues that we're solving are really quite similar and there's very little difference when you're looking at it and bringing in content and speakers. And so, to me, [the restructuring] took what I wanted to do as the head of [the former Heavy Duty Manufacturers Association division] and brought it forward three to four years. And it does so at less burden and cost to our members, and does so in a way that we improve the ability to network across multiple industries.
McCarthy: I think the key thing is [that the restructuring decision] was very member driven. This came out of our boards saying, "We have these big issues like sustainability and electrification and vehicle automation, and I kind of want to know what's going on in these other sectors. We’re sharing those issues and we want to be informed."
The other thing that came from the board is we want the best resources for the manufacturers and suppliers on [these shared issues]. And their question is: Can you do that four different times across these different silos that you've had? So, they were kind of pushing us and bringing up the issue. How are we going to address it?
Then the other issue was, we were just making it too hard for our busy members.
As Collin described, [the restructuring] came together pretty fast, amazingly fast. … This is the right decision for the members, and our boards said make it happen. So we did. And the feedback has been great.
HDT: How have members responded to the rebrand and restructuring?
McCarthy: The biggest feedback I’ve gotten from members is, “What took you so long?”
Shaw: The things that [members] love, which are our industry councils and networks, [biannual] meetings … and OEM [visits], none of that's changing. We're continuing to build that content for our industry. We kind of work behind the scenes and connect people and make sure that those in our industry feel like they know what's happening. They have a voice.
HDT: Collin, you’ve recently taken on a dual role as COO of MEMA OE, and as chief commercial vehicle officer of MEMA. What does the title of CCVO entail?
Shaw: The chief commercial vehicle officer role is an overall responsibility at MEMA for all commercial vehicle content. All the content that was built over the years in AASA [the former Automotive Aftermarket Suppliers Associations division], many of it already had commercial vehicle tracks. MIRA [Motor Equipment Remanufacturing Association], which was our sustainability and remanufacturing group … half of those member companies are engaged in heavy-duty remanufacturing, whether it be gearboxes, air compressors, transmissions, engines… I mean, they're very engaged.
So what [this role] does is it allows me to then take the entire heavy duty spectrum and say, "OK, let's see what we're doing on business technology for the aftermarket. How can I help Paul [McCarthy] build more content for the aftermarket? How do we get more of our remanufacturing members involved in the aftermarket as well?"
Working across the two divisions, now with a much deeper bench of people, helps me support [heavy-duty related programming and strategy]. So, rather than it just being the HDMA of like five or six people, it's now myself and Shannon [O’Brien, senior director of programming and strategy] working through this, but with a bench of 50 people across the entire organization.
McCarthy: This chief commercial vehicle officer role in MEMA is so incredibly important. It's so important to make sure that we have that value and that focus, and we enhance the value and focus that we have for commercial vehicles. This isn't new, we've been representing heavy-duty suppliers for 190 years. Some of our founding members were heavy-duty suppliers, so it's at the center of all we do. The goal here is [to bring] more focus on it. That [CCVO] role allows us to have that focus and think about it in everything we do. But also, it brings more resources … to our commercial vehicle members.