What's Next for OEC

May 1, 2020

2020 is OEC's 20th anniversary, and the next 20 years will be focused on parts, relationships and mobile technologies

Pat Blech is Director of Collision, North America, for OEC. At the time of the interview, Blech was in quarantine at home, “holed up in my basement bunker,” he says, due to the outbreak of the coronavirus.

What's your title, and how long have you been with OEC? What are your primary responsibilities?

I am the Director of Collision in North America, and have been with OEC for over seven years. I began as a product specialist and from that I grew into the role I have today. 

I’m responsible for the growth and success of our collision products. We’re split into different business units focused on the buyer—independent repair facilities, collision shops, DIYers and dealers—anyone ordering OEM parts. We have different products serving the different channels. I’m responsible for products in the collision portfolio and I’m excited to see it continue to grow. CollisionLink Shop is the big one. 

CollisionLink Shop is a juggernaut in parts sourcing. Where would you like to see it go?

We’ve always been focused on OEM parts and the value that they bring. Now more than ever, there’s a strong need to get shops closer to OEMs and there’s a need to get them more reliable information and more parts. That’s why we intend to double down on our value proposition—CollisionLink Shop is focused on the shop, the parts dealer and the OEM. We want to leverage our relationship with automakers and get that information to the customer to make sure they have the best information possible when ordering their parts. 

We have a collision division roadmap in 2020 and 2021; those enhancements are geared toward allowing shops to more efficiently take advantage of OEM parts programs and order parts from dealers. It will also make info straight from OEMs more readily available. It’s the access to information that informs safety for their customers.

What’s changed from when you began working at OEC?

When I first started, I was surprised at how little information or incomplete info is actually available to shops today, and from just how many sources it can potentially be sourced. Shops really have to do their own homework and sometimes still place orders without complete information, and it results in comebacks, delays, less safe vehicles and less profitable shops.

We really rely on getting close to the folks who live it and do it every day. We spend a lot of time with collision shops, dealerships and OEMs—those who actually have to confront these challenges. We learn from the experts and try to help them.

These days, having access to the most complete info up front, as much and as often as possible, helps us save shops a resource no one can get back—time. Vehicles are getting more and more complex and shops can’t afford to spend two hours researching repair and ordering parts. They need to diminish non-repair time to keep up with throughput. Anything we can do to help make them more efficient is going to help. We’re compressing the downtime to decrease cycle time. 

It sounds like OEC is able to help shops make the most of their valuable employees’ skills and time. It sounds like you’re talking about efficiency and productivity. 

Right! Right. Those are critical KPIs, and many times, repair planning is not value-added time. Technicians or service advisors may spend hours on every repair, but they’re not getting reimbursed or paid for by insurance companies or other parties. They need to compress the non-value-added time without sacrificing quality. Work smarter, not harder.

We look at the unique challenges our clients face, and you see who is ordering and selling the parts, and many shop and dealer employees have three or more screens up—they’re using websites, applications or other mobile solutions juggling it all just to get their job done. It’s clear there’s a lot of inefficiencies out there.

I get in the field a fair amount and we spend a lot of time with those at the cutting edge of collision repair. We want to benefit them, our dealer customers and the OEMs as well. 

What's the #1 reason an owner would choose OEC for his or her parts needs, opposed to many other qualified vendors?

For me, it’s simple. We truly believe that responsible collision repairers choose to use OEM parts as much as possible. We have one of the largest networks of wholesale dealers in North America and relationships with 26 brands. When we walk into shops and dealers with our product, it’s pretty clear we focus on OEM parts exclusively. We don’t have to counterbalance that with stakeholders who encourage the use of third-party or aftermarket parts, and it helps our clients trust us. We are here to help.

For more information, check out collisionlinkshop.com

This article appeared as part of an 8-page special section sponsored by OEC

in the May 2020 edition of FenderBender.