Executive Q&A: Max Dull, MAHLE Tool & Equipment Division - Engine Builder Magazine

Executive Q&A: Max Dull, MAHLE Tool & Equipment Division

Max Dull
Max Dull

Max Dull joined MAHLE Clevite, Inc. in 2013 and serves as the general manager of the company’s newly formed division to address the tool and equipment industry. Through its RTI brand, the division develops and distributes automotive maintenance equipment including air conditioning service, fluid exchange and nitrogen tire inflation systems into the repair shop equipment sector of the automotive aftermarket. Before joining MAHLE, Dull was a business consultant assisting manufacturers and distributors in the automotive aftermarket. He spent many years running Beck/Arnley, an import parts company in the automotive aftermarket. He was vice president and general manager of the company when it was owned by Dana’s Under Hood Group.

It has been a year since MAHLE purchased RTI Technologies from Bosch. Tell us how the integration has gone and what future plans are in the works for the new tool and equipment division of the ­company?

I believe that an acquisition like this has to be looked at in phases; in this case we are working through three phases.

The first phase is complete.  That consists of transitioning systems and procedures to the MAHLE format. While providing many benefits and easy to implement in some cases, it was more challenging in other areas. For example, we first had to upgrade the IT infrastructure in our York facility in order to migrate the RTI data to the new MAHLE systems. These transition projects were completed mid-2013, which set the stage for the second phase of the integration:  Growing Sales.

One may look at our position in the marketplace and see it as challenging. I look at it and see opportunities unrivaled in other parts of the industry. I have ­enjoyed success over the course of my career working with businesses that had much promise, but for whatever reasons were not reaching their full potential. It all starts with building a solid team, with common goals and a clear ­vision.

Next comes listening closely to the voice of the ­customer to enhance our ­programs. Our new team is committed to ­making MAHLE RTI the thriving cornerstone of the new Tool and Equipment division of MAHLE Aftermarket Inc. here in North America.

The third phase, and possibly the most exciting, is the expansion of this segment of our business into new products and new markets. MAHLE has made clear its intention to be a major player in the Tool and Equipment industry and the ­actions it has initiated globally offer proof that its ­intentions are not based on shallow words.

Simply said, MAHLE is ­committed to this industry and while we can’t disclose specifics on some of the projects right now, we know that 2014 is going to be a very exciting time as we move through the final phases of building our new ­division and begin implementing our strategic plans that will ensure a strong future.

We have heard many stories regarding personnel changes at MAHLE RTI; can you shed some light any of these changes?

When MAHLE took ownership of RTI Technologies in January 2013, it ­inherited a group of great people who were very adept at manufacturing the highest quality products within the tool and equipment industry. The personnel changes we recently made are focused on leveraging the vast resources now available under MAHLE ownership, which will enable us to become more efficient internally while at the same time enhancing support for our distribution partners, which all leads to greater customer satisfaction.

One of the most significant advantages that MAHLE brings to the RTI business is providing the resources of a multi-billion dollar global technology and manufacturing organization, while at the same time allowing us to retain the advantages of a smaller, agile ­company that can respond quickly to market changes and customize products for unique situations.

The previous leadership team did a great job in positioning the RTI Division with all of the vital foundation for success moving forward. Taking those building blocks and using them to chart a course toward sustained, long-term growth for us and our customers is the next step that we are prepared to take immediately.

MahleWhat are RTI’s strengths that MAHLE will build upon?

When I assumed the General Manager position in October, the one thing that I knew was that the RTI product was very well respected within the Tool and Equipment industry. Having been a “parts guy” for most of my ­professional life, I had to venture back to the days when I had a repair shop, back in the days when they were called repair shops or garages, instead of today’s modern service provider.  I knew how important reliable equipment was then.  If equipment was not functioning, vehicles were not getting repaired, and revenue was being left at the door.

This is the core principle that transcends every person, every function, and every philosophy here at MAHLE RTI.  Quality is the foundation upon which everything else is built.  Sales, Marketing, Engineering, and even ­Accounting all have a stake in what we call the Quality Credence — the belief that superior quality, delivered at the right price, followed up by the right service after the sale is a proposition that customers do not have to sacrifice.

MAHLE RTI equipment is an ­investment — an investment in the peace of mind in knowing that our equipment will perform to standards longer and better than any machine in the market today.

Because you supply equipment to the air conditioning (A/C) segment, can you tell us what’s new in the A/C market worldwide?

Without a doubt, one of the most frustrating things going on in our business is the debate regarding the next generation of coolant. There is no ­disputing that 134a is in the “phase out” period, but the industry has not yet committed to a clear declaration ­regarding its replacement.

MAHLE RTI is ready, willing, and able to deliver the products required to service cooling systems in the ­future. Should the industry decide that 1234yf is where the future lies, great, we are there today. Should the industry move forward with CO2 as is being tested right now in Europe, or if it goes to a blend of 134, 1234, and CO2 combination — we are uniquely equipped to deliver on those as well.

The MAHLE RTI engineering team are experts in the industry — serving on a variety of committees and task forces in all different capacities. A benefit to this volunteer service is that it helps keep us abreast of any developments in the refrigerant race. Their expertise, combined with the size and make-up of MAHLE RTI, provides our organization with technology, infrastructure and agility. Our people are empowered to move forward in the way that is best for our customers and our business.

Courtesy of Shop Owner magazine.

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