John Marshall, YEN Member Insights, February 2012

John Marshall, SEMA YEN Member of the Month Spotlight, Aftermarket News, February 2012

John Marshall On Building & Maintaining Contacts In The Automotive Aftermarket

Name: John Marshall
Power Slot (Performance Brakes Business)
Title: National Sales Manager

About: John Marshall, the National Sales Manager for Power Slot, is a graduate of Northern Illinois University in Dekalb, IL. He is a first time father with a daughter born early last year. John has worked at several well known manufacturers within our 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 the various transitions in your career.

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 or 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 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 sometimes is 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 hi. 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 like MySEMA, Facebook, 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, which I regard as friends. LinkedIn is more catered to your business contacts. I keep getting request, 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.