November 19, 2021

You’ve Been There Before, Too?

Ask anyone within the aftermarket and they’ll tell you that the best thing about the industry is the family-feel; we all truly care about each other. That’s clearly evident if you’ve ever asked a YANG mentor for advice. They’re candid, honest, and always willing to help. Often times the hardest thing about talking to a mentor is knowing what to ask. Each YANG Effect we will be conducting an interview with one of our mentors and hopefully giving you a road-map of things to ask your industry mentor. If you’d like to contact a YANG mentor, click here.
Mark Cali, ZF Aftermarket

Below is a Mentor Conversation between new council-member Meagan Moody and her mentor Mark Cali. Mark is Head of ZF’s Aftermarket program in the US and Canada.

What were some of the “scary” industry changes that you’ve seen in your career (ie legislation changes-MPG goals, TPMS implementation, changes in Freon, fuel injection)?  How did the industry react?

I wouldn’t use the term “scary,” instead I’d use “challenging” for this example. The Aftermarket has changed over the decades from have extraordinary poor quality suppliers and quality suppliers to having most suppliers now offering quality product. The days of large OE suppliers sitting down and waiting to come to us because we simply have the best product is over. The product being made now is high quality product, we’ve had to change our strategy to compete, often times lowering profit expectations. This also has a positive impact in that it forces us to be innovative, develop new products that people want and we can charge appropriately for.


What do we need to do to prepare for industry changes like EV’s?

We’ll learn as we go with this topic. Everything is so new and coming so fast, I believe our biggest challenge is knowledge and training to start. We need qualified trainers. From there, they better be willing to travel or utilize everything social media has to offer because all installers will need this information.


What personal/professional development do you suggest?

Take on whatever role is offered that you can see yourself having interest in, challenge yourself, listen, and read a lot. I’ve had many roles in my career so far and each provided me with perspective, a challenge, and credibility so that I can not only make the right decision, but I have credibility doing so. I would also caution taking any role that is offered, it must be of interest. If you’re not passionate, you’ll likely fail or be miserable. It’s important to listen. Too often I experience people who wish to tell me everything they know, wow me with information. Instead, God gave us 2 ears and 1 mouth for a reason, remember that. Finally, read some leadership books, change related books, and see what you can employ. I read a book long ago that was written even longer ago by the gentleman who started Gannett (USA Today).  Not only did I learn that I wouldn’t want a boss like him nor did I want to be that type of leader, I learned a great saying that was listed toward the end of the book…in your 20’s work as much as you can, in your 30’s learn as much as you can, in your 40’s earn as much as you can, 50’s lead, 60’s teach and 70’s get the hell out. Great advice and I’ve modeled my career after that.


What role did continuing education play in your career?

Years ago I earned my MBA, going to school every Thursday night for 4 years while also have a small child at home. It was not easy however the perspective I learned, the discussions with classmates, and strategic way of thinking was essential for me to take on greater and greater leadership roles. Education has always been a key cornerstone of my career and often encourage anyone on my team to continue to further educate themselves, whether in a formal setting or otherwise.


Do you have suggestions on how to get more involved in the industry?

Start by going on industry websites such as Auto Care or MEMA and learn about the committees. There are contacts there that can be called to discuss your participation. Even if participating simply means showing up and listening in, there is much to be learned about the Aftermarket.


What is the most challenging part in becoming an effective leader?

First, understanding that you’re now a leader. We go through our 20’s and into our 30’s perhaps with a strong desire to manage. We don’t know always why, it’s just what we’ve been taught – get to be a manager, earn more money, and tell people what to do. That isn’t leading. I recognized I was becoming an effective leader when I’d speak, people were not only engaged, they wanted to follow. How do you get to that point? Refer back to my list of what to do in your 20’s and 30’s. It’s not rocket science, work hard, listen, learn, have a positive attitude and good things will happen.


How do you manage different personality types in a professional setting?

Keep calm, breathe. Understand who is in the room, levels, reason for being there, and what they’re hoping to get out of it. This is essential for a successful sales person and these principals are really key for anyone who wants to lead a high level project. Not everyone will get along, however understanding who each person is and what their purpose is will allow you to adjust your way of directing. You can’t tell everyone to “just do it.” Some will need that, others will need to convinced.


What are your thoughts on WFH v in the office?

I’m on the flexible side. I enjoy seeing my team but that’s because it fits my personality, I like being around people. I do see a point that we lose that ability to have a water cooler talk if we’re not in the office, and that point is very valid. However, if I have a thought, I get on Teams and talk to the person anyway, I don’t need a water cooler or coffee maker to talk to someone, just may take a bit more effort. I don’t have a problem with my team working from wherever they want full time. I would like to have the team come to the office 1x per month just to see each other in person and touch base.


About section background | Auto Care Association

Mike Chung

is director, market intelligence at Auto Care Association. With more than a dozen years of experience in market research, Chung provides the industry with timely information on key factors and trends influencing the health of the automotive aftermarket to help businesses throughout the supply chain make better business decisions. Chung has earned degrees in chemical engineering, environmental health, and business administration. He can be reached at michael.chung@autocare.org.

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