Leadership Spotlight: Q&A with Mark Drennan, ACDelco

Mark Drennan is General Director for ACDelco. ACDelco is the premier supplier of GM Original Equipment automotive replacement parts and offers 90,000+ auto parts across 37 product lines, and can be found around the globe. In the following Q&A, Mark shares with us his valuable insights on the topics of leadership and success.

TBR: What is your current role and area of responsibility?

MD: Currently, I am the General Director for ACDelco, the true General Motors original equipment replacement parts brand, a position I’ve held since October 2016. In my role, I’m in charge of day-to-day business and operations, as well as the overall business strategy and performance.

TBR: What do you see as your biggest challenge right now?

MD: The industry overall is changing at a fast pace and competition is getting tighter for suppliers, dealers, shops and OEM’s, so the need to enhance value proposition to stay ahead of the competition is as important as ever. We know that the aftermarket is a “people business,” and in addition to providing OE quality parts as the OE replacement parts brand for GM, we believe success will be based on the relationships built with customers and this is one area where I believe ACDelco has a distinct advantage. We believe in truly being a partner to our customers, saving them time and money by offering OE quality parts that they can trust.

TBR: What was your first job in Industry?

MD: While I was attending Pittsburgh State University, I had a chance to work as a co-op student for General Motors. After graduation, my first job was working in Chevrolet’s customer assistance center, which was a great experience and has helped shape my perspective throughout my career. Working directly with customers has allowed me to remember the challenges shops and dealers face every day. While managing their day-to-day business duties, I believe they shouldn’t have to worry about the quality of their auto parts – and this is where ACDelco adds value to their business by being an OE quality part that they can always trust.

TBR: How do you see the industry evolving over the next 5-10 years and do you have any bold predictions for us?

MD: In the next 5-10 years, we will see the independent aftermarket as a whole migrating towards premium products. Lower priced products can seem attractive at first, but in time, customers begin to realize they get what they paid for and are disappointed by quality and durability issues. Fortunately, ACDelco has delivered exceptional quality and value for more than 100 years as the OE replacement parts brand for GM and we’ll continue to improve our products and our business model with the changing environment. For a bold prediction, I would say that it’s possible that autonomous braking and forward collision warning systems could reduce rear end collisions by up to 50 percent in the future. I believe these systems will play a significant role in the braking industry moving forward.

TBR: How would you describe your leadership style and why has it worked so well for you?

MD: I believe it is important to be able to adapt your leadership style to the situation and provide your team with empowerment that will remove barriers and ensure people feel ownership of their responsibilities. It’s also important to maintain the ability to quickly identify what the need is, and to make decisions quickly which in the end will help drive the business.

TBR: What is the best career advice you have been given?

MD: The best advice I’ve been given was something my grandfather told me. He said, “You’ll never learn anything with your mouth open. Listen to what the need is, understand the business and don’t shy away from the tough decision.” This was a great piece of advice I still follow today.

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