SEMA Member News - July/August 2010
Six Questions With Wade Cobb
Incoming Manufacturers’ Rep Council (MRC) Chairman Wade Cobb co-founded HAPCO with Bob Bader in 2008 and has been an involved SEMA member throughout his career. He feels that every rep should have access to MRC.
As a kid, incoming Manufacturers’ Rep Council (MRC) Chairman Wade Cobb owned every Matchbox and HotWheels car known to man. When he grew older, he worked part-time at a speed shop in Pauline, Kansas, moving from the back shop to the front, selling carburetors, headers and superchargers. He eventually went to work for Reliable Automotive as an inside salesperson and learned how a large warehouse distributor operated, progressing to management positions in sales, purchasing and marketing over the course of a 15-plus-year stay. When Reliable was sold, Cobb went to work as a manufacturer’s representative with Gantt-Thomas and Associates, and then he branched out with Bob Bader to start HAPCO in 2008.
Cobb has maintained an involvement with SEMA throughout his career, serving as the chairman of the Young Executives Network and participating in the original Sport Compact Council before it evolved into the Street Performance Council. It was natural for him to join MRC when he became a manufacturer’s representative, and he soon realized that the council provided great opportunities to develop his skills and enhance HAPCO’s operations. Cobb has come to feel that every rep should have access to MRC.
SEMA Member News: What is your two-year vision for MRC as its new chairman?
Wade Cobb: My goal is to guide the implementation of the actions items the members of the MRC Select Committee worked on so diligently in our most recent long-range planning sessions. My predecessors, John Iannotte and Joel Rosenthal, did a fantastic job of enhancing the vision of the Select Committee to identify some of the key issues that need to be addressed so we can bring value and substance to our general membership. Now it’s time to take action and make a difference.
SMN: Are there specific challenges facing the manufacturers’ rep segment of the industry? How do you hope to overcome those challenges?
WC: There are many challenges facing manufacturers’ rep agencies in today’s business climate. The current economic times magnify the importance and value of relationships with WDs, jobbers, installers and end users. Customers as well as vendor partners expect more from their sales reps. I will offer my guidance and knowledge to the Select Committee members, bringing to bear several great minds to take action on the items our membership has identified as crucial to future success.
SMN: How has being an MRC member been beneficial to you and your company?
WC: HAPCO has benefited many times over from our affiliation with SEMA and the MRC. MRC has facilitated many functions, such as the rep conference at the annual Performance Warehouse Association event that offers training on industry issues, ways to become better business people and networking opportunities with colleagues and other SEMA-member companies. MRC has specifically provided HAPCO with many opportunities, ranging from leads on companies seeking to hire agencies to training seminars focused on challenging me and HAPCO to be more productive in today’s market. One of the benefits of MRC is the free legal advice offered by the law offices of Steven Sack. Sack has represented sales reps for more than 29 years and is available exclusively to MRC members to review contracts and provide legal advice on a range of issues that routinely affect manufacturer’s reps.
SMN: Why should more rep firms join SEMA and MRC?
WC: In addition to the other membership benefits, SEMA provides any person or company with tools to further themselves in the automotive aftermarket industry and to get the job done. MRC leverages the power of SEMA to bring tangible benefits to its members and affords the opportunity to elevate the overall image of a manufacturers’ rep agency. Membership provides access to all of the tools offered by MRC and SEMA. More importantly, it gives you the opportunity to help shape the future of MRC and our industry.
SMN: What will you do as chairman to encourage MRC member companies to become more actively involved?
WC: My focus will be to get more members involved in the direction of our council: serving as a Select Committee member, volunteering time to participate in a task force or simply nominating someone to the Select Committee whom they feel confident about representing our segment of the industry. Let’s work together to create an environment that promotes growth. As a council, we need to engage with our member agencies on every level. If we’re going to make a difference for the industry and our companies, it will take a global effort.
SMN: Is there anything else you’d like to let MRC members know at this time?
WC: We have all experienced the hope and change over the past year or so in our country. I simply ask that you don’t allow things to just change, but be part of the change. Be more active at home and with SEMA. SEMA and the MRC council work for your benefit. Let us know what you need, and help us make it happen.