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Executive Interview: Mark Drennan, General Director, ACDelco

Mark Drennan was named ACDelco general director in October 2016, and is responsible for its business strategies and overall performance. Previously, he was director of General Motors Accessories, where he was charged with integrating sales and distribution with the design, production and marketing of GM’s vehicle accessories portfolio. Drennan previously served as a field zone sales manager and regional service manager.

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Mark Drennan, General Director, ACDelco

Mark Drennan, General Director, ACDelco

Mark Drennan was named ACDelco general director in October 2016, and is responsible for its business strategies and overall performance. Previously, he was director of General Motors Accessories, where he was charged with integrating sales and distribution with the design, production and marketing of GM’s vehicle accessories portfolio. Drennan previously served as a field zone sales manager and regional service manager.

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Why did you pursue a career in the auto industry?

I always loved cars, particularly Chevrolets. So when I was a co-op student in college, there was an opportunity to work with General Motors and I went for it.

After college, my first full-time job was working in Chevrolet’s customer assistance center, and that experience has influenced my perspective throughout my career.   

The experience of speaking directly with so many customers reminds me of the challenges independent shops and dealers experience every day. The last thing they want to worry about is the quality of the parts they choose for their customers’ vehicles, and this is where an established and trusted brand like ACDelco can add value to their business.

You recently led GM’s accessories division. Did you learn any lessons from this experience that apply to your new role at ACDelco?

Although every position teaches you something new, I think there is one key takeaway whether you are promoting accessories or working in the field. You might have an incredible product, but if you don’t have a customer-centric culture, you’re never going to become a supplier of choice. However, as shop owners know, this is much easier said than done.

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It’s about going out into the field and learning what your shops and distribution partners need so they can do their jobs more effectively. A Harvard Business School professor used the example of a fictional drill bit manufacturer.

The drill bit maker might think it is in the business of selling drill bits, but what the customer really wants is a hole in the wall. In other words, our business is about meeting the needs of our customers, not just selling parts.

x_15accb00465_v1What do you see as the biggest challenge for ACDelco?

The independent aftermarket is a rapidly changing and increasingly competitive industry for suppliers, OEMs, dealers and shops. So, there is a constant need to enhance your value proposition to stay ahead of your competitors and grow.

The aftermarket is a people business, and along with providing quality parts at a great value, our success will hinge on the relationships we build with our customers.

That’s why we made it a priority to strengthen our field sales teams last year, and even in our increasingly digital world, old-fashioned face time is starting to pay some big dividends.

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What do you think is the greatest opportunity for the brand?

Fortunately, ACDelco has a 100-year track record of delivering exceptional quality and value, and not many brands can say this. I think our greatest opportunity is to use this strong foundation and brand equity to deliver those “wow” experiences to our customers.

ACDelco is the true General Motors Original Equipment maintenance and repair parts brand in the aftermarket. This means the OE parts provide peace of mind because they are designed, engineered and tested to the exact OE specs for your GM vehicle.

Along with everything I’ve just mentioned, we’ve empowered both our management and field teams with the flexibility to do what’s right for the customer to become their parts supplier of choice.

Vehicle technology is changing at such a rapid pace. How do you think this will impact independent shops?

The ingenuity and resilience of independent shop owners impresses me. Rapid technological change has occurred in our industry for decades and they’ve kept up.

In addition to state-of-the-art diagnostic tools and software, eligible members of our Professional Service Center (PSC) program can take advantage of industry-leading training and live technical support. We also provide marketing support with lead generation, an image program and, of course, quality parts that technicians can install with pride and assurance.

x_acd-spark-plug-collageHow can shop owners partner with ACDelco to grow their business?

Helping independent shop owners grow their business is a big part of the ACDelco value proposition. The primary way we do this is through our PSC and Regional Service Chain (RSC) programs.

These programs help us build a long-term relationship with the shops that choose ACDelco, while preserving the independence business owners value. In addition to the benefits I mentioned earlier, we offer a very attractive loyalty program. I encourage anyone who wants to learn more to contact their ACDelco field representative or visit ACDelcoTechConnect.com.

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What do you like to do outside of work?

I’ve been blessed with a wonderful family and treasure every opportunity to spend time with them. I also enjoy woodworking, and I think it helps me appreciate the challenges technicians face daily.

Like today’s complex automobiles, wood is not very forgiving if you lose your focus or try to cut corners on a project.

The adage “measure twice, cut once” definitely applies, and I can tell you that when it comes to driving quality into our portfolio of more than 90,000 parts, the entire ACDelco team shares this mentality.

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