Profile in Trade: Carl Smith

Jan. 1, 2020
When I was asked to take the reins of AASA's Overseas Automotive Council , I obviously had a large number of people to meet.

When I was asked to take the reins of the Automotive Aftermarket Suppliers Association (AASA) Overseas Automotive Council (OAC), I obviously had a large number of people to meet. Luckily, I found there was one person in particular who knew everyone in the global aftermarket by name.

LinkedIn provides statistics to show you how many people you know through the other people you know, and an even larger number of connections inside the network of people they know. As it turns out, you do not need several layers of connections to reach the global aftermarket if you know Carl Smith. If international connections in the automotive business were a game, it would be Two Degrees of Carl Smith (with deference to Kevin Bacon and his Seven Degrees).

Smith is a retired former vice president, Automotive Aftermarket of Intraco Corporation, in Troy, Mich. Intraco, an OAC member, is a multi-faceted operation with manufacturing, warehousing and distribution responsibilities, and also operates as an export management company. Its automotive aftermarket group operates in more than 30 countries with sales and marketing responsibilities for more than a dozen major US brands.

Smith also had roles in international business as vice president or director at Federal-Mogul, Wagner-Moog (Cooper Ind.) and SPX Corporation, combined for over 36 years. His career began with 29 years at Kent-Moore Corp., which later became SPX Corp. through a merger. He attributes his personal growth in these organizations to great mentors and co-workers inside their international business teams, and to exceptional experiences in engineering, manufacturing and distribution throughout Brazil, England, Germany, Switzerland, Japan and Australia.

Following up a Michigan State degree in Marketing and Sales Administration with post-graduate work at the Wharton School of Business in Accounting and Finance would have told you in advance this guy has great potential.

When I asked Smith to help me convey his personal recipe for success in the global aftermarket here was his wisdom:

PAGE 2

• Form true partnerships with your customers. Build strong personal relationships by working side-by-side with your customers, training them in sales, distribution, and technical skills to market the product lines.
• Integrity at all levels in business in an absolute necessity. You are born with it, and it can be lost with one misdeed! This is the basis of long lasting trust.
• The customer, their perception and their expectations drive everything. Customer service is critical at every level — from the receptionist to the president. Every customer is important – a concept that must be known on the factory floor, the office, the warehouse and the boardroom. This is where the quality control and everything important begins. Nothing less than exemplary customer service is acceptable.

These are the basics of success, as told by one of the most recognizable people I know in the global automotive parts trade.
 
Simply put, international business is founded on solid relationships through trust and exemplary performance! That philosophy was a cornerstone of an impressive career of over 43 years, and it seemed to be a perfect fit with all of the Fortune 500 Companies for whom Smith worked.
 
Carl Smith is past president of the OAC, and has received numerous awards throughout his career, including a Lifetime Achievement Award presented to him by OAC during AAPEX in 2009. He has also served as president of the Michigan District Export Council and chairman of the International Trade Committees of the AASA and Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association.

When I was asked to take the reins of the Automotive Aftermarket Suppliers Association (AASA) Overseas Automotive Council (OAC), I obviously had a large number of people to meet. Luckily, I found there was one person in particular who knew everyone in the global aftermarket by name.

LinkedIn provides statistics to show you how many people you know through the other people you know, and an even larger number of connections inside the network of people they know. As it turns out, you do not need several layers of connections to reach the global aftermarket if you know Carl Smith. If international connections in the automotive business were a game, it would be Two Degrees of Carl Smith (with deference to Kevin Bacon and his Seven Degrees).

Smith is a retired former vice president, Automotive Aftermarket of Intraco Corporation, in Troy, Mich. Intraco, an OAC member, is a multi-faceted operation with manufacturing, warehousing and distribution responsibilities, and also operates as an export management company. Its automotive aftermarket group operates in more than 30 countries with sales and marketing responsibilities for more than a dozen major US brands.

Smith also had roles in international business as vice president or director at Federal-Mogul, Wagner-Moog (Cooper Ind.) and SPX Corporation, combined for over 36 years. His career began with 29 years at Kent-Moore Corp., which later became SPX Corp. through a merger. He attributes his personal growth in these organizations to great mentors and co-workers inside their international business teams, and to exceptional experiences in engineering, manufacturing and distribution throughout Brazil, England, Germany, Switzerland, Japan and Australia.

Following up a Michigan State degree in Marketing and Sales Administration with post-graduate work at the Wharton School of Business in Accounting and Finance would have told you in advance this guy has great potential.

When I asked Smith to help me convey his personal recipe for success in the global aftermarket here was his wisdom:

PAGE 2

• Form true partnerships with your customers. Build strong personal relationships by working side-by-side with your customers, training them in sales, distribution, and technical skills to market the product lines.
• Integrity at all levels in business in an absolute necessity. You are born with it, and it can be lost with one misdeed! This is the basis of long lasting trust.
• The customer, their perception and their expectations drive everything. Customer service is critical at every level — from the receptionist to the president. Every customer is important – a concept that must be known on the factory floor, the office, the warehouse and the boardroom. This is where the quality control and everything important begins. Nothing less than exemplary customer service is acceptable.

These are the basics of success, as told by one of the most recognizable people I know in the global automotive parts trade.
 
Simply put, international business is founded on solid relationships through trust and exemplary performance! That philosophy was a cornerstone of an impressive career of over 43 years, and it seemed to be a perfect fit with all of the Fortune 500 Companies for whom Smith worked.
 
Carl Smith is past president of the OAC, and has received numerous awards throughout his career, including a Lifetime Achievement Award presented to him by OAC during AAPEX in 2009. He has also served as president of the Michigan District Export Council and chairman of the International Trade Committees of the AASA and Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association.