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Klaus Feddermann, owner of the AUTLOG brand: «Zero compromises in quality questions!»

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  • Дата: 29-01-2023, 22:52
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The whole career of Klaus Feddermann is closely tied with the sale of automotive spare parts manufactured on enterprises, that primarily supply their products to assembly lines of automobile manufacturers. And, having offered the market his own brand AUTLOG, he remained true to this principle. I have been familiar with Klaus and his brand products for several years. It is time to interview. For which I went to Hamburg ...

Klaus Feddermann, owner of the AUTLOG brand: «Zero compromises in quality questions!»

- Klaus, tell us how you started your journey in the automotive parts business?

- I started in the Bosch Wholesale Department, in the department responsible for the North of Germany. In 1980 I started working for Ruville in Hamburg, where I was responsible for the sale of engine parts.

In 1984-85, I sold Ruville parts to the first customers in Eastern Europe. The very first client was the well-known today Polish company Inter Cars.

Ruville was a trading house. In those days, Ruville worked like this: some of the products (bearings, rollers) were supplied under the Ruville brand, and other products, for example, motor parts, were sold under their own brands which are known today around the world.

With the business growth in Eastern Europe, I began to develop actively other products under the Ruville brand: water pumps, CV joints, suspension and steering parts, camshafts, belt components. But, after the manufacturers we represented have seen that Ruville has been developing rather its own program, the business of motor spare parts began to decline gradually. In the end, the Ruville trading house stopped selling another's brands. And Ruville has changed its direction - from a heavy motor parts program to a peripheral one.

In 2001, Ruville was acquisited by the FAG, and a little later, by the Schaeffler Group, and I became responsible for distributing Ruville parts in Eastern Europe, as well as for business development and marketing until the end of 2006.

At the end of 2006 I left Ruville and soon organized the AUTLOG brand.

Klaus Feddermann, owner of the AUTLOG brand: «Zero compromises in quality questions!»

- How was the Ruville brand launched at Automotive Aftermarket? How were product programs created in this well-known, almost premium brand?

- It all started with sets of wheel bearings, which were first offered precisely in the form of a kit with all the parts necessary for repair. The distribution in Germany, for example, was organized through Ruville representatives in each region.

How were product programs created in this premium brand? In the beginning, all the necessary information from car manufacturers and their regional sales departments was collected for a very long and expensive time. At that time, there was no general information, such as today, available through TecAlliance (formerly TecDoc).

For wheel bearing kits, everything was purchased exclusively from original component manufacturers, and that contributed to Ruville's high reputation as a supplier of premium parts.

- In fact, you grew up on the original parts...

- Yes.

- Realizing that there are original parts, is it difficult for you to take the downshift - to order from non-original manufacturers? I mean already for the AUTLOG brand.

- No. I worked for Ruville for a long time and effectively, and then for the Schaeffler Group, and I knew very well that many of the leading manufacturing companies did not produce everything 100% themselves, and I had close contacts with all these supplier partners. After all, it is absolutely no secret that now almost no brand can produce 100% of the products for its range, if it seeks to expand the line.

There is such a nuance: serious manufacturers / brands produce here in Germany in very large quantities. They do not produce small batches here, but place either production or orders in general abroad. And the Chinese work a little differently than the Germans: today they produce one kind of parts, the next day - another, on the third day - the third... The tool production for equipment is also located there.

In a word, I knew where the highest quality products came from ... so I began to buy there. We work exclusively with factories that are ISO / TS 16949 certified.

If we take Ruville prices at 100%, then AUTLOG, which is almost identical to Ruville in terms of quality, is 70%. Why? Because our expenses are not so high. Furthermore. Premium brands hold a very wide range of products: programs A, B, C, etc. They must have it, but we don’t need it. We hold, say, 250-300 of the most popular positions out of the conventional 1000 - to cover the range of products that are in maximum demand. It also optimizes expenses greatly.

We are not going to compete “head-on” with any well-known quality brand - this is not our task. Our task is to offer the client an alternative. The client decides for himself: to buy a top brand and pay for a name or buy AUTLOG - the quality is close or the same, but pay less accordingly. And both customers will be satisfied.

- What is your experience in selecting suppliers?

- I have been working with automotive parts for about 40 years, I have many important contacts (including competitors) that help a lot to figure out which supplier possesses the necessary facilities, which is important for a high degree of supply availability.

Of course, as I said, all the suppliers we work with are ISO / TS 16949 certified. This certificate guarantees products high quality.

Moreover, today in AUTLOG packaging there are a lot of products from those first-tier manufacturers with whom I could not cooperate for various reasons before working on AUTLOG.

- Who went with you to the AUTLOG team?

- My partner, Jorg Lankau, is the second co-owner of the company. He is responsible for procurement and logistics. And I am responsible for trade and product development. J?rg also came from the Schaeffler Group, Ruville, where he was responsible for procurement, logistics, and computer software.

Yuri Pozikov also joined us, but as a partner company. He is an official representative of AUTLOG in all Russian-speaking countries. Yuri worked in the export department of Ruville, where he was responsible for working with Russian-speaking clients. Together we brought Ruville to the countries of Eastern Europe, made it recognizable in this territory. We participated in exhibitions in Moscow and Kyiv many times, visited our clients together, and often do this together until now, but with AUTLOG.

- What is the AUTLOG strategy?

- To create your own brand, such as AUTLOG, you need a lot of components, and all this costs a huge financial investment. Not all wholesale distribution companies can afford to do this at a fairly high level.

Based on this, the AUTLOG strategy has emerged - to offer medium-sized wholesale companies, if they do not have their own brand, from one source a fairly wide range of the most popular spare parts, which include repair and installation components.

We provide our customers with all the data through comparative lists, a market-oriented price list, a delivery set with all the important information on the label, an EAC certificate, which is absolutely necessary for our Russian customers, as well as the availability of our parts in the TecAlliance electronic catalog.

We focus primarily on a fairly wide range of important fast wear parts with all the assembly parts that are important for repairs.

We are constantly including new products into our overall program. I get a lot of information from our leading European customers about what products are needed, and try to include them into our program as soon as possible. In the same way, we get a lot of information about innovations from the suppliers - what new products they start to produce.

Thanks to innovative, creative and functional communication with our esteemed customers and suppliers, we are always up to date with new products and new technical developments.

For example, we have already introduced such relevant spare parts as oil separators, fuel pumps, and fuel return line kits into the program.

Klaus Feddermann, owner of the AUTLOG brand: «Zero compromises in quality questions!»

Klaus Feddermann, owner of the AUTLOG brand: «Zero compromises in quality questions!»

- Which direction is the locomotive of the AUTLOG brand?

- The most important group of products for us today is sensors. 10 years ago we started working with sensors and today we offer more than 2000 items in this group of products. And every month we add from 30 to 50 positions.

For these parts, very high quality standards are applied, since it is very important that the individual electronic components interact well from the point of view of engine control to reduce fuel consumption and increase environmental friendliness.

All our suppliers (and we purchase from more than ten suppliers to offer a full range) are necessarily certified according to ISO / TS 16949, and are true experts in this field.

Quality is absolutely essential for safety-critical parts such as ABS sensors, etc.!

Many of the sensors we offer are important for drive comfort.

Klaus Feddermann, owner of the AUTLOG brand: «Zero compromises in quality questions!»

- How many percent does this group of goods occupy in your turnover?

- 60%.

- If everything is so bright, why is the brand image in this category of goods, judging by the reviews of your partners, still not high enough?

- Image is such a thing that is developed over the years ... We have not so long ago been on the market in general, and with this group of goods - only 10 years. Leading brands have been promoting these products probably for 25 years.

Today we sell huge quantities of products to such companies as Inter Cars, Autonet. And the complaints rate is the lowest!

Time will do its job.

- Could there be at least some compromises in quality?

- There are no problems with quality at all if you have good suppliers from Asia.

- To make it more clear for the readers, it is necessary to explain in details. For a car, released 10 years ago it is time for the sensors to break down with a high degree of probability. Even 15-20 years ago there were already all these sensors. And these sensors are widely sold on the aftermarket today.
At that time, the developers were companies of the first magnitude, everything was done directly in Germany or Japan. These production facilities must have been preserved there. And they, these companies of the first magnitude, have 100% competence in the developed products?

- Yes, sure.

- Does it mean that they have a reference quality, and any “reengineering” in China is already a copy of not such high quality? Does this mean that their parts quality for 10- and 20-year-old machines is better than the copied Chinese counterparts?

- Firstly, some parts, for example, especially complex ones, are protected by a patent, they have a special design, and no one has the right to produce them, and other parts are not protected.

Secondly, copying is not necessary. The Chinese or other manufacturers may themselves develop an analogue.

- We are talking about those parts that are protected by a patent.

- At least in 10-17 years the patent expires.

But still, I think the quality is the same. For this 10-year-old car, for which everything is also produced by the “original manufacturer”, or a Chinese company (but only a serious Chinese company, from which AUTLOG buys), which has all the necessary certificates - sensors that are absolutely identical in quality.

As for patents, we have contracts with all Asian suppliers that state that they do not infringe the patent. Because patent infringement is expensive.

- By and large, your statement is not supported by anything. Today it’s hard to explain to customers: “Guys, buy either a well-known and expensive brand, or AUTLOG! This is all the same! ”- this can not be put into the head. This is something that is unbelievable. The barrier is big.

- In fact, these are very simple devices. You just need to want to figure it out. This is an equipment that can be easily copied if it is not protected by a patent. And in quality, it is in no way inferior to the original part.

- But the leading companies claim that their competence as a developer is unsurpassed.

- I would do the same if I were in their place. They must earn money in the first place, and therefore give such an advertisement that no one else can produce anything like this.

Mercedes also always said that they produce the best cars. And in the end, Toyota, Subaru, Hyundai, and KIA are producing cars no worse in quality than Mercedes.

Yes, there are nuances when you can’t copy exactly. But this is an insignificant percentage of cases.

The best argument is when the client takes it and says: “It works!”. And we see this by the number of our sales.

- Ok, I think there are enough arguments. How much lower is the recommended retail price of an AUTLOG sensor than the price of well-known expensive ones?

- AUTLOG is about 2 times cheaper.

- Is the same picture for lambda probes?

- We are not experts in this yet. It is impossible to have everything in the program at once. Proposals from suppliers are already there, but we have not yet made a decision.

Parking sensors are the interesting topic at the moment.

- Parking sensors do not wear out the same ....

- Yes. But they are damaged in accidents.

- Klaus, thanks for the detailed and patient explanation. Let’s go to your next product groups. Are sets with rollers, a belt and a pump 100% complete with a premium belt?

- Yes, we offer “Top 100” kits (today we have about 100 kits) exclusively with premium timing belts from well-known manufacturers of original equipment! Because, as I know from my experience (selling engine parts in Ruville), you cannot compromise in terms of quality in the "engine management" segment, because the cost of engine failure can exceed € 10,000!
Klaus Feddermann, owner of the AUTLOG brand: «Zero compromises in quality questions!»

- How much cheaper is the AUTLOG kit from similar sets of premium brands?

- AUTLOG is 30% cheaper because our water pumps and rollers are cheaper than premium brands offer. We know which Asian manufacturers produce the same quality pumps and rollers.

In general, our belt drive system components are supplied from Europe, Japan, Taiwan and China. I know these suppliers for many years and they never failed.

All bearings that are installed in the rollers we offer are designed exclusively for belt drives and, of course, are filled with high temperature grease.

All parts of the kit are delivered to our warehouse here in Germany. Belts come only from European plants. We complete and pack everything here.

We can offer separately the same pumps as in the sets. There are also about 100 positions. And I can say with confidence that AUTLOG pumps have a perfect price / quality ratio!

- Do you already have electric pumps in the offer?

- This is our next topic, we are working on it, but so far there are many proprietary pumps, so you need to be very careful. Today, there are already 15 items in stock, and we know which plants we will order. This is the future, so we are definitely developing this program.

- Components of a chain drive: what are the nuances of this product from AUTLOG?

- This product line is part of the Engine Management segment. Here, like in sets with a timing belt, the highest quality standards are also applied - in our offers we use chains only from European factories manufacturing for OEM. No compromises!

Klaus Feddermann, owner of the AUTLOG brand: «Zero compromises in quality questions!»

- What is your bearing program?

- We offer about 250 sets of bearings and wheel hubs. As with our other products, the complaints rate is close to zero, and prices are lower than competitors with similar quality.

Klaus Feddermann, owner of the AUTLOG brand: «Zero compromises in quality questions!»

- What guarantees the quality of suspension and steering parts of the AUTLOG brand? And what is the price among competitors?

- The level of complaints as well as in other groups is close to zero. We deliver this group of products along with mounting components at prices, I repeat, about 30% below the price level of premium brands, providing a quality similar to the “original”.

This group of goods has a very difficult situation with competitors in the market - there are a lot of them, a lot of cheap ones - at least 200 and new ones appear.

What is important for us, and I spoke about this above: our clientele is medium-sized wholesale companies that do not have their own brand, but would like to work with us. This is our segment.

For example, these mid-range companies buy 200 items per month from us: 1 item - 2 pieces, another position - 3 pieces, someone needs 5 pieces ... The company itself will never be able to order such small quantities in China, you need to order large amount at once- and this is another level of investment.

And we are focused specifically for this segment. It is important for us to offer top positions at good prices as an alternative to expensive ones.

Our range in this group of products is optimized - 1100 positions. Very relevant program. And it affects the price. For comparison, large firms have about 6,000 positions in the suspension.

Klaus Feddermann, owner of the AUTLOG brand: «Zero compromises in quality questions!»

- You have torsional vibration dampers (crankshaft pulleys) in your program. What can you say about them?

- We buy pulleys mainly in Turkey, as well as in China. In Europe there is only few real premium manufacturers of these products, and all other brands either produce or order dampers in Turkey and China themselves. We do as well, and we know where they are produced with the highest quality.

Our damper program is wide enough, and we tend to offer repair kits with bolts and washers because that they must be changed along with the pulley.

Klaus Feddermann, owner of the AUTLOG brand: «Zero compromises in quality questions!»

- Packaging is the brand’s face, as well as it means the convenience of working with it and product protection. What are the AUTLOG packaging standards?

- Our packaging is designed according to German standards. Today we have about 30 sizes of cardboard packaging. It protects against damage and moisture. The label contains all the necessary information: EAN code, order number, comparison number, etc.

- Where does the packaging take place directly?

- The lion's share of products comes to us in Hamburg from different countries and factories in industrial packaging - these are large boxes in which everything is compactly packed. And we complete and pack everything in our warehouse.

Packaging directly at the plant is not very profitable in the end - transporting a large amount of "air" over long distances significantly increases the cost of products.

But some parts for us are still packed by manufacturing plants. Packaging is made in the same place, according to our terms of reference: dimensions, thickness, quality, etc.

And all the labels are printed and stuck here in Germany, regardless of where the products are packaged.

Klaus Feddermann, owner of the AUTLOG brand: «Zero compromises in quality questions!»

- Is it good that everything is done directly under your control? Does this reduce the probability of some wrong input?

- From this point of view it does not play a role. At good manufacturing plants, everything is also under control, there are practically no errors. No complaints.

- Klaus, what is the quality of Chinese products today compared to European ones?

- We note that more and more well-known European suppliers are now increasingly producing “price-sensitive products” in China or purchasing individual assemblies there, and then completing parts in Europe.

For example, an assambled sensor consists of several components (sensitive element, electrics, something else) ... Or take, for example, some components of a water pump: the case itself is made in China, it is sent, for example, to Spain, Spanish gaskets are installed there, assembled and put "made in Spain". Although a part of the finished product is made in China.

- The most critical components are Spanish, assembly and quality control are Spanish ...

- The quality in the end is good. So why not? This is good cooperation. Everyone saves money.

- With the increase of the number of distributors, are trainer visits to distributors and technical trainings for staff planned? Such meetings greatly strengthen the seller’s confidence in the brand. A webinar option is also acceptable.

On the one hand, we are a trading company, we are not engineers to talk about the nuances of product quality.

On the other hand, if you do it professionally, it will immediately raise the cost! It will all effect the price. There are 2 types of our clients: some are ready to pay for it, while others say: "I believe you, I am ready to buy it from you."

We plan to participate in the Kiev exhibition, where in direct communication it will be possible to ask us absolutely all questions.

- Distributors are asked to provide details of the part, especially the electrical one. Including linear dimensions. Is this planned to be introduced?

- Yes, we are preparing this table with all the parameters and customers will receive it soon. Today, all AUTLOG parts with cross options can be found in TecAlliance (TecDoc).

P.S. Everything is justified and clear, in German style. It is comfortable to work with such a partner. As in spare parts as in advertising ...

Interviewed by Alexander Kelm
Kyiv - Glinde - Kyiv

Больше информации о бренде AUTLOG и его дистрибьюторах читайте по ссылке…

Klaus Feddermann, owner of the AUTLOG brand: «Zero compromises in quality questions!»

Klaus Feddermann, owner of the AUTLOG brand: «Zero compromises in quality questions!»

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