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SEMA YEN Member of the Month Spotlight—John Marshall, Power Slot

  John Marshall

SEMA YEN Member of the Month Spotlight

John Marshall, Power Slot

This month’s interview is with John Marshall, national sales manager for Power Slot, a performance brakes company.

Marshall is a graduate of Northern Illinois University in Dekalb, Illinois. He is a first-time father with a daughter born early last year. He has worked at several well-known manufacturers within the specialty-parts industry over a period of 17 years and has great insight into a subject that is critical for young automotive aftermarket executives—building industry contacts throughout various career transitions.

Tell us a little about yourself and what you do. How long have you worked in the industry and what other companies have you worked for? What positions have you held as you progressed to your current position?

I am the national sales manager for Power Slot. I started in the industry in 1995 with Auto Meter Products. In 2000, I accepted a position with K&N Engineering as the eastern regional sales manager. In 2007, I accepted the position of director of sales with Power Slot. That same year Centric Parts acquired Power Slot, and my title changed to national sales manager.

Undoubtedly, you’ve met a lot of people and made many contacts over the years. How important would you say that it’s been to maintain those connections as you changed positions/companies? Why?

Our industry is small. We see each other at various shows and events every year. Maintaining those relationships is probably one of the most important aspects of developing a successful career. I still have friends at each company that I have worked for.

What were some of the challenges you faced when it came to maintaining those contacts?

Time. We are all busy, so reaching out is sometimes a challenge.

Transitions from one job to the next within the same industry or even the same company can be difficult. Do you have any tips for young aspiring industry executives on how to handle these situations?

Whether you’re let go or decide to move on, always do so with dignity. Stay connected with past managers/bosses at shows, stop by and say hello. What’s new at the company? How have they been?

Today’s digital world provides a variety of tools to help us communicate and stay in touch. Do you use any social media or digital programs, such as MySEMA, Facebook and LinkedIn, or, do you have any devices that you couldn’t live without?

In person is always best, but again, that time factor comes into play. Social media is good and bad. Used correctly, it is a great tool to stay in touch. I am on Facebook, which I use more for friends and family. I do have some business contacts on there, whom I regard as friends. LinkedIn is more catered to your business contacts. I keep getting requests, but have not signed up yet. I guess I should at this point. As for devices, I can’t live without my Blackberry, though my wife threatens to divorce me if I keep responding to it at dinner.

It’s easier to maintain a relationship with people we see and work with everyday. What do you feel is the best way to keep in touch with old contacts that you don’t see or talk to as frequently?

I still like picking up the phone and calling. Shows and events are a great way to see them in person and reconnect. Bottom line, regardless of the channel you choose to communicate, you must make the effort and find the time to do so. You never know how those old contacts could factor into your future.

What benefit has your current company received from the network of contacts that you have created over the years?

Information—it is nice to be able to get a perspective from someone not within your own company. Industry contacts/friends can give you general information on what they see is happening in the aftermarket. What are the new trends and what are they doing to address them?

What advice would you offer to other YENsters looking to grow and maintain their contact network as they progress through the industry?

Getting involved with SEMA is a great way to meet new industry contacts. Get to know one of the SEMA Hall of Fame members and stay in touch with them. They have achieved a lifetime of industry know-how. More often than not they are willing to share their wisdom with you.

Are there any specific advantages that you feel the younger people in our industry may have when creating and maintaining contacts? Any disadvantages?

Younger people tend to be more on the cutting edge of technology. They use social media more and are open to new ideas. And for disadvantages, well, social media. Those who rely on it for communication may miss the opportunities for face-to-face conversations.

Learn more about how to boost your career through the YEN.