Interview with Dan Billie, CEO – Plews & Edelmann
CIO BLOG : In a recent interview with the Chief Executive Officer of Plews & Edelmann, a leading manufacturer and marketer of power steering components, we discussed the changing face of business and technology. With the ever-increasing focus on digital sales and eCommerce, brands need to upgrade their information technology systems and focus on new priorities if they want to stay relevant and successful. We found this to be especially true in the post-Covid economy. The financial and supply chain challenges that arose with the pandemic have affected how companies across all sectors connect and sell products to consumers around the world …
Dan has decades of experience in the automotive aftermarket industry and was recently inducted into the Federated Auto Parts Vendor Hall of Fame. Plews & Edelmann has prioritized digital transformation initiatives to increase productivity with customer-focused operations under Billie’s leadership. The following are excerpts from our interview:
How Is Ecommerce Changing the Auto Parts Industry?
“Automotive aftermarket parts distribution has long focused on downstream brick-and-mortar businesses. Independent repair facilities, new car dealerships and do-it-yourselfers (DIY) comprise the bulk of those who need parts. DIYers who fix their own vehicles frequently headed to a retail store so they could explore their options with knowledgeable sales associates. This, however, this is now changing with Generation Z as they shop more online.
Customers now want an omni-channel experience where they can get information about brands, distribution methods, parts availability, and pricing. Also, they want key videos that walk them through parts installation if they choose to fix their vehicle on their own. Plews & Edelmann offers the market high quality products primarily manufactured in North America offered at a fair price.
Plews also is focused on providing its customers the best understanding of what makes us different than our competition. We provide clear differentiators from others and our marketing department has done an outstanding job conveying those unique attributes to the market through social media, website, industry advertising and website design and updates.”
What are the Top Three Technology Priorities for your Business in the Next 12 Months?
“At Plews & Edelmann, our focus remains on 1) cybersecurity; 2) data analytics; and 3) business process optimization. Improved security helps protect Plews’ intellectual property and is extremely important to our customers. Data analysis is a key driver in the business. It allows us to make real time decisions that, just a short time ago, would have taken days or weeks to have accomplished. In order to achieve our corporate vision, we must operate the company in the most efficient way possible, identify wasteful processes, and leverage technology to automate whenever possible.”
What Does Plews Expect from its Information Technology Team?
“Plews & Edelmann’s key stakeholders collaborate with the technology department daily. The IT department has become a key component in our ability to process more and, frankly, get more accomplished in much less time.”
Dan noted that the head of their IT team worked in the sales and marketing department before transitioning to Information Technology. This helped ‘close the gap’ on business and technology that contributes to the company’s success and fostered a service-oriented culture that benefits everyone.
“The increased focus on information technology within the business structure makes collaboration with stakeholders simpler and more rewarding.”
How did the Pandemic impact Plews & Edelmann?
Dan stressed the importance of resiliency and agility for companies in the automotive aftermarket parts industry and other sectors too. The ability to switch to remote operations and still manufacture and distribute products was essential to minimize the impact on customers. Plews & Edelmann employees have leveraged new tools and technology and adopted remote work to successfully overcome the pandemic.
“We were blessed to have been considered an essential business, so our doors never closed. We learned much about remote work set-up and created many long lasting processes that enable our current success (post Covid). Without the support of our team during those trying times, we would not be where we are today. It took the collective willpower of many people to get through those trying days. I am deeply indebted to our Plews team for their hard work and determination.”