A father who drove trucks between Mount Isa and Darwin and loved racing cars in his spare time is one good reason why Andrew May has the career he does.
“I’ve always loved anything that has to do with vehicles,” he says from his office in Brisbane.
This is helpful, considering his role in a newly developed position at HELLA Australia requires him to have extensive vehicle and vehicle parts knowledge.
He describes his new National Fleet BDM job as a way of opening up a better, more direct line of communication between HELLA Australia and the fleets.
“Essentially, my job is to help fleets get the best possible solutions on to their vehicles,” he explains, adding that his experience with other companies over the years has put him in a good position to understand fleet managers’ needs and their pain points.
“We’re giving fleets the opportunity to talk directly to a manufacturer about products and offer up the safest and most durable options that work best for them,” Andrew says.
The job of a fleet manager isn’t an easy one, Andrew points out, especially considering how many products, details and parameters they have to deal with.
“I think fleet managers appreciate that we’re offering them a service that helps them to save time and it makes their selection process easier,” he says. “Considering HELLA offers a wide range of products, the selection of what works best in different settings requires great deal of assessment.”
One big benefit for fleet managers is that Andrew can, not only suggest what will currently work best for them, but also let them in on what products will be available in three- or six-months’ time, as HELLA rolls out new products with leading technologies to improve safety and durability.
As a leading automotive supplier in the country, HELLA Australia provides a wide range of lighting, electrics, and electronics products to the automotive aftermarket and specialist manufacturers.
It is part of the HELLA Group and now sits under the umbrella brand, Forvia, the seventh largest automotive supplier globally. Although far from the outback terrain of Australia, the unique natural environment down under is given strong consideration during the design phase. Australia is the perfect testing ground for product durability and life expectancy.
“Our backyard is quite brutal,” Andrew says. “It’s diverse and vast. If a product can survive here, it can just about survive anywhere.”
So, what are fleet managers looking for when it comes to lighting? Now fully ensconced in the role, Andrew is noticing a clear priority — reducing downtime as much as possible.
This means minimal maintenance which is why he is excited about HELLA’s plug and play solutions, offering ease-of-use and outstanding value.
“Our DuraLED family of products is also a proven example of this,” Andrew notes. With 25 years of in-field application, Andrew can confidently convey the “Lifetime Warranty” statement as a proven milestone and not just a marketing ploy.
“Often the clincher is the serviceability in the field,” he says. “Previously fleets might have had a product that would need to be removed after breaking and then rewired which is time consuming. But we see value for fleets to have products that you literally unplug, plug a new one in and you are ready to go again with very little downtime. Fleets are running their vehicles for a lot longer now and HELLA has a high standard when it comes to longevity.” Following his fleet manager clients’ lead, their priority has now become Andrew’s personal objective.
“If I was to have one goal constantly in my head it would be simply to enhance efficiency and reduce unnecessary downtime,” he says. “If we can tick those boxes, all while ensuring the product is providing the safety factors they need while lasting the life of the vehicle, then we’ve hit our goal.”
The exchange of information isn’t a one-way street, Andrew says, with feedback from fleet managers shifting into a priceless tool when it comes to research and development, something that is an ongoing priority for Forvia, with close to 10 per cent of their earnings going into the area.
“I know that I can confidently support a product because in reality, the basis of our company is that we are an original equipment manufacturer and there are no corners cut,” he says.
“Our Fit and Forget by design philosophy shall be incorporated into every aspect of the product life cycle, ensuring product performance and customer satisfaction are never compromised.”
Research is also what will set Forvia apart in the future, he says, with the company focusing intensely on sustainability and a target of zero emissions by 2045. HELLA New Zealand, which already uses 100 per cent renewable energy, manufactures all the LED products which Australia sources today.
With constant new discoveries which then become products, staying on top of it all is a big job, but Andrew says he’s up for the challenge and is positive about what is to come.
“There is just so much knowledge and experience at HELLA that I can lean on,” he adds.