Changes at the OE level are having a significant impact for undercar parts in the aftermarket.
Mark Nasra currently serves as Director of Sales, Chassis Division for Dorman Products. With a background in business and sales, as well as considerable experience in the aftermarket, Nasra has a unique perspective on the industry. CarCare Business recently sat down with Nasra and asked him to share some of his perspectives on the industry. Here’s what he had to say:
From your perspective, what have been some of the biggest changes in the chassis business over the last number of years?
Parts proliferation is definitely one of the biggest changes we’ve seen. When I first got involved in the industry, there were around 1,000 different part numbers when it came to vehicle chassis. Today we have more than 8,000 different part numbers, including control arms, so the increase has been very significant. As a first-to-market company, we’re able to see changes happening at the OE level, such as smaller and lighter components. We’ve seen control arms move from steel to aluminum and even composite materials (including plastics).
What do you think that means for the industry in the years ahead?
The number of parts continues to increase as OEMs introduce new vehicle platforms and models at a faster rate. For us in the aftermarket, it means we need to keep up and introduce replacement parts, though we also find that on the chassis side, one part can fit multiple different vehicles, such as a Ford or Mazda for example. That being said, chassis components, along with brake parts, are among the most frequently replaced due to wear, so I feel the future for the aftermarket and for chassis parts in particular is very positive and will continue to grow.
As we understand it, there is often a misconception when it comes to durability of chassis parts as the vehicle ages. Can you tell us a little about that?
When a vehicle is brand new, it’s important to remember that each component on that vehicle is also brand new. As time goes by and the vehicle accumulates more miles, parts start to wear out. We’ve seen many times where the original OE part will last five to seven years and an aftermarket replacement seems to last only four to six years. The issue isn’t the part, it’s often that other key components haven’t been replaced and because they are worn, they put extra stress on the parts that have been replaced, causing them to fail prematurely. It’s important to remember that the vehicle functions as a complete system—a system that is only as strong as its weakest link. That’s why it’s important for service technicians to perform regular inspections and look for wear and tear throughout the entire vehicle.
With MAS Industries becoming part of Dorman, what does that mean for your existing customers here in Canada?
Dorman is a recognized leader in first-to-market products, and becoming part of the Dorman family means there are far more resources available to us than before. We now have over 50 people working on the chassis division, and we have all the data resources available—things we didn’t have before. Our goal was to keep our existing MAS customer agreements in place. The difference is now our customers benefit from the additional programs and resources that Dorman offers. The marriage of MAS and Dorman has been very good, as there are a lot of synergies between the two companies, and this has made and will continue to make us a leading choice for chassis products in the aftermarket.