February 10, 2021
“If you are thinking about updating your content management process, call PDM. They check all the boxes for the First Brands Group and can create near Utopia,” David Logan, Catalog Group Manager, First Brands Content Manager.
David Logan, Catalog Group Manager for the First Brands Group (formerly, TRICO Group), is a car enthusiast who grew up “the son of a true shade tree mechanic.” David loves everything automotive performance-related, but he is also a technology geek. If he can improve a company’s overall efficiencies through enhanced product data, he feels he has won the race; he calls it “the race car version of data work.” David firmly believes that good, solid product data is a company’s backbone and without good content management companies are inefficient, experience lost sales, and are not prepared for future growth. So, when David listened to a presentation on the Importance of Product Data by Johannes Crepon, founder of PDM Automotive, at an Automotive Content Professionals Network (ACPN) Data Excellence Award ceremony it was kismet. They began a lasting friendship as a couple of car-guys and technology nerds in the automotive industry.
I asked David if he would share his experience regarding First Brands adoption of PDM Automotive’s data management technology journey. He shares details of the risk and rewards of creating a streamlined product data management process from the ground up for multiple brands in the First Brands Group portfolio.
Laurel Dasher (LD): David, it’s not every day that guy who loves developing products for cars, shifts their career into content data management. When did you realize you had a passion for content data technology?
David Logan: My dad was a car-guy, which means I am a car guy, as the saying goes “like father, like son.” I knew I wanted to wrench cars like my dad when I grew up, but I am also a technology geek at heart. I always enjoyed learning and understanding the technology behind something. I believe that there is always a way to make something better. I started my career in 2000 as a product specialist for Dana Corporation, I was part of the product development team for engine sealing components. It was not long before my passion for technology led me from product development to the data side of the business.
LD #2: Is that how you got involved with the Automotive Content Professionals Network (ACPN)?
David: Yes, ACPN helps the automotive aftermarket adopt standards for product data management. I was drawn to the ACPN mission, which is to help the industry improve communication, education, provide inspiration, and a platform for like-minded content and technology professionals to network and collaborate. Given my background and desire to help companies become more technology-driven with product data, I joined the ACPN committee to help the industry.
LD #3: Is that how you met Johannes Crepon, founder of PDM Automotive?
David: Yes, I met Johannes at the 2018 ACPN Data Excellence award ceremony, when he awarded Federal-Mogul with the, 2018 ACPN Content Excellence Award for MOOG® Hub Assemblies Catalog. Johannes gave a presentation on how PDM’s (then volunteer judging partner) validation and scoring technology was used to analyze the data of all entries. I was instantly impressed with his knowledge and PDM’s new, modern technology for product data management. I felt like it was the game-changer the industry needed to continue moving forward in content management technology.
LD #4: When did you decide to partner with PDM as your content management solution?
David: Through our ACPN involvement, Johannes and I stayed in touch and continued to collaborate on industry content management technology. Over the course of the next couple of years, I transitioned positions within Federal-Mogul and DRiV before joining the First Brands Group (then Trico Group). At First Brands Group, I was charged with helping the company adopt an enhanced, structured content management system and process that would follow ACES & PIES industry-standard formats. By incorporating this structure, the company would be more efficient, improve revenue opportunities, and communicate with customers more effectively. I knew that PDM’s modern technology would help First Brands achieve all these goals.
LD #5: Since you were new at First Brands, did you have to present an evaluation of several service providers before hiring PDM?
David: I pulled together an internal team that conducted an independent evaluation of several different service providers that ranged from legacy companies that have been offering similar services for many years to new technology companies similar to PDM, which was a start-up at the time. We also evaluated the possibility of First Brands Group, creating their own proprietary data management process. We presented leadership with a proof concept specification on each solution, which included the data team’s entire wish list, costs, and roadmaps. In the end, PDM checked all the boxes for the First Brands Group and could create near Utopia.
LD #6: What risks did you take into consideration?
David: I will admit, it was a hard sell at first and leadership was skeptical. I was still new to my position and PDM was a new, cloud-based technology. There were significant risks in consideration. We assumed First Brands could potentially be PDM’s largest company (at the time) and we were considering investing a significant amount of time and money into PDM’s technology. The process took several months, but I was confident that we were, what I like to call “Utopia bound.” I personally felt that the First Brands Group investment in PDM would not only set the company up for success but would be a game-changer in the automotive industry.
LD #7: Can you share some of your goals when you started the process?
We had more goals than I can list, but ultimately, we wanted to create a robust content management process, where we could easily create, manage, and distribute our product data using ACES & PIES industry standards. Here are a few other goals that I can highlight:
- Support our website with new Y/M/M updates and search capabilities.
- Ability to load, clean, and maintain updates and new products.
- Allow our customers & partners to easily access and export our product data in real-time.
- Allow for easy integration into our category management process.
- Seamlessly adopt the process for new brands added to the portfolio.
PDM checked all the boxes. My favorite feature is the PIES data management interface, it is the most up-to-date, intuitive interface on the market, they are outpacing others in a similar space. It is the most robust, and modern solution in the industry.
LD #7: How has the First Brands content management transition been going?
David: The First Brands Group, had a clean slate from day one. So, it has been a methodical transition that we are implementing across other brands. Arguably this takes time. Together, with PDM, we continue to walk through our goals, strategies, and roadmaps one brand at a time. We know that we “have to build the car before we can enter the race.” The goal was to create a solution to manage and distribute data in a short period of time and create a process that could be easily adopted when we add new brands to the portfolio. We are still migrating our data into PDM as new features are introduced every month to ensure success. PDM has mastered the core of ACES & PIES industry standards better than any other company.
LD #8: Did you hit any roadblocks along the way?
David: Covid. Nobody could have predicted that a pandemic would forever change the way we conduct business. In an instant, everyone began working from home and needed access to content remotely. Before Covid hit, people would cringe at the thought of using a cloud-based solution, because the industry notoriously slow to adopt new SaaS technology. It turned out that PDM was the best choice we could have made with their cloud-based solution. When First Brands went into a work-from-home environment, the data team never missed a beat. We were able to access all product data in real-time and we could continue to move forward. It was a seamless transition for our content management processes. PDM’s cloud-based solution was perfect for this type of scenario.
LD #9: What efficiencies or improvements have you realized so far?
David: We have multiple brands, all with different product management processes. The data analysts were running manual reports, sending different files for pricing, products, and data analysis. It was very labor-intensive and subject to errors. We immediately realized an 85-90% reduction in manual data distribution. Also, we were only able to update our website once a month with new products and updates, and now we have an automated system that updates regularly. We run a lean, more efficient content management process.
LD #10: What advice do you have for anyone who wants to make the transition to PDM from their current content management solution?
David: Do it. Make the call. The folks at PDM take the time to understand your current processes, internal resources, and goals. They will conduct a FREE data assessment and provide a roadmap tailored to your business model. They listen and take you seriously. They want to equip their clients with the foundation to successfully manage product data, improve efficiencies, help increase sales and provide better communication with trading partners. It is a win-win solution for everyone.
About First Brands Group:
First Brands Group, LLC (formerly TRICO Group) is a global automotive parts manufacturer that serves the worldwide automotive aftermarket industry with best-in-class technology and engineering capabilities. Our portfolio includes Raybestos® complete brake solutions, LuberFiner® filtration products, FRAM® filtration products, TRICO® wiper blades, Carter® fuel and water pumps, ANCO® wiper blades, StrongArm® lift supports, and Autolite® spark plugs. First Brands Group is a world-class automotive parts manufacturing delivering high customer service and growth.
About PDM Automotive:
PDM was founded in 2017 on the principle that creating, distributing and consuming high-quality automotive product data should be easy, transparent and improve sales. We exist to create experiences where brands feel empowered to take charge of their own data, resellers seamlessly have access to all product information in real-time, and service providers can add their own special contributions to the process. We do this by engaging with like-minded organizations, listening, and utilizing the latest technologies to create an intuitive platform for the flow of high-quality automotive product data between all our customers’ trading partners.