As a 30-plus-year automotive aftermarket veteran, Ted Hughes has seen change after change in the industry. He’s experienced countless technological improvements. During his almost 24 years as head of marketing for MAHLE, he charged head-first into the digital era — embracing digital media, e-commerce and a “data is king” mindset. Yet despite the evolution of the industry, one aspect has remained true: nothing beats the solid relationships that form long-lasting business partnerships and make this industry strong.
“Right now, it’s just a different kind of relationship measurement and building in my opinion,” said Hughes. “But I still believe in my heart that relationships are extremely vital, especially at that shop and technician level. And that’s where AWDA membership, in my opinion, has such an advantage over anyone else who’s trying to [build relationships] in the industry.”
Ted has spent the majority of his career at MAHLE in marketing management roles, assuming the role of creative marketing engineer for whatever new product or change the business underwent. Yet about a year ago, he joined the Auto Care Association as executive director of the Aftermarket Warehouse Distributors Association (AWDA) and also took on the role of senior director of community engagement for the association, putting his love for the industry and his expertise for creating industry engagement to work. Although challenges abound, Ted looks at them as opportunities.
“The challenges that we face, they may be a little bit bigger..but with that comes opportunities,” he said. “The best part about it is that within AWDA, there are some of the industry’s most determined, resilient people and the biggest collection of ingenuity that I’ve seen in the aftermarket.”
In this episode of AMN Drivetime with Bill Babcox, presented by AISIN, Ted delves into:
- Making the change to association work and its biggest rewards (0:54);
- How he was fitted for skates at a young age and what playing hockey and other sports taught him that he takes into his career (3:13);
- Ted’s career trajectory and how he found the automotive aftermarket (6:54);
- Shifts in the overall business that impacted Ted’s roles and how he and his team addressed them (10:36)
- The future of AWDA (15:47);
- The importance of face-to-face interaction (18:39);
- Rapid Fire Questions (24:40)