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Executive Interview With Ken Selinger, Aftermarket Director Of Sales And Marketing, Akebono Brake Corp.


6/9/2014
By Mark Phillips

Today, we feature an Executive Interview with Ken Selinger, aftermarket director of sales and marketing, Akebono Brake Corp. Selinger talks about Akebono's involvement in the efforts toward low-copper brake compliance, the company's recent expansion in Tennessee and more.
 
Mark Phillips
Akebono was one of the first manufacturers to introduce 2021-compliant low-copper brake products on the market. Aside from the environmental benefits that the federal legislation seeks to achieve, what are the performance or other benefits that Akebono is seeing with these new formulations?
 
The primary benefit we have observed since 2005 when we first launched our low-copper technology formulations ahead of the rest of the market, is delighted customers. Prior to launching, Akebono painstakingly validated our technology to ensure we continued to deliver on our value proposition to our customers: this meant continuing to definitively solve for Noise, Vibration & Harshness (NVH), solve for Disc Thickness Variation (DTV) and of course, keeping customers' wheels clean.
 
In early 2013, Akebono announced an $82 million expansion of its Clarksville, Tenn., location. Could you bring us up to speed on that project?
 
Akebono continues to enjoy a significant partnership with all of our OEM customers. This investment represents Akebono’s commitment to continuously support the growth of our valued customers' brands through all of our brake system technology expertise in not only friction but also in rotors, drums, hub assemblies and, of course, calipers. Due to our OEM customers embracing our advanced brake system design technology, this investment will create the needed capacity to support their demand for our products well into the next decade. Akebono is proud to manufacture both our OEM and aftermarket brake products in the USA. Since 1985, Akebono continues to expand our investment in the USA and employs a significant skilled American workforce. Today, Akebono employs more than 3,600 associates in the USA and this number will grow over the coming years.
 
Akebono was recently honored by Honda with the company's Excellence in Quality award for supplying advanced brake and friction material products. Explain Akebono's approach to manufacturing that resulted in this award.
 
With more than 85 years of brake design expertise, Akebono brakes are the most application-specific formulations in the market. The ultra-premium ceramic brake pads are OE-engineered to enhance the model-specific performance demanded by each vehicle. Akebono aftermarket brake pads are 100 percent made in the USA, which allows us to have proprietary control over quality.  
 
How does the aftermarket side of Akebono benefit from the company's involvement in OE?
 
Akebono is the largest brake system and brake component supplier in North America to the OEMs by a significant margin. Akebono’s leading market share position provides us with technological knowledge and insight that our aftermarket division is able to leverage to deliver the perfect, application-specific braking solution to our customers. This nearly exclusive position allows us to design within a brake system with certainty that our replacement components are ideal and fully optimized holistically, instead of having to reverse engineer and try to fit a part into a brake system.
 
Anything else you’d like to tell us about Akebono?
 
Akebono Brake Experts exclusively deliver the “Essence of Braking.” What this means simply is that through our advanced R&D, design and manufacturing capabilities, Akebono is uniquely focused on protecting and delighting our customers every single day by delivering what are clearly the “Best in Class” brake systems and brake system components in the world.
 
With an unparalleled focus on delivering essential ingredients of quality, performance and profitability in brake solutions, Akebono’s reliable products and team serve to further the success of its customers, exceed consumer requirements for safety and NVH and continuously innovate the industry’s next breakthrough friction technology.
 
What other trends is Akebono seeing in the brake category, in terms of being first to market with coverage, new formulations, etc.?
 
Once again, since we enjoy one of the strongest relationships and largest market shares with our OEM partners, Akebono works harmoniously with the OEMs on future vehicle designs and is therefore providing advanced insight and knowledge regarding these new vehicle configurations and their specific braking requirements. This allows Akebono to intensely focus our robust R&D resources to anticipate, innovate and design new technologies that fulfill not only the creative vision of our OEM customers, but to also continue to delight our customers with safe, best-in-class innovative braking solutions. This process enables Akebono to continue to be the definitive “Brake Experts” exclusively capable of delivering “The Essence of Braking.”
 














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