United Motor Products' Rick Maxwell Is an Industry 'Lifer'

United Motor Products’ Rick Maxwell Is an Industry ‘Lifer’

Rick and Bill talk about what it means to continue the legacy of a family business.

In the latest episode of “AMN Drivetime,” Babcox Media CEO Bill Babcox sits down with Rick Maxwell, president and owner of Cleveland-based United Motor Products.

Maxwell is what some in this industry call a “lifer.” He’s been involved in the industry since he was about eight years old, working along his father, who began as an aftermarket salesman in 1965 for the originator of B’laster. 

“He worked for a couple other companies in sales, and that’s how I got into it,” Maxwell said. “I was on the road with him staying in hotels, doing changeovers. … It was fun. … After that he decided, ‘Hey, since I’m a sales guy, I want to own a parts store.’ So that’s what he did. He opened a couple parts stores, so I got into working in a parts store.” 

Maxwell described his dad as a “serial entrepreneur” who was always thinking about the next thing, which is how they went from sales to parts store owners to making spark plugs. “I was making spark plug wires by hand, you know, with a vise and putting the terminals on. And we would take the orders in the morning from the customers, I’d build the sets, we’d deliver ’em next day out of our car. So, it was fun. It was working at home and again, hanging out with the family. It was good.”

After about two years, they moved into a small facility and developed a consolidated spark plug wire line, and according to Rick, this is when things took off. “We’ve kind of just kept moving and morphing into the next thing. So we did that for a while, and then we moved into a little bigger facility, about 10,000 square feet, and we were there for about 10 years and grew the business, and then we moved into where we’re at today.”

Today, the company has a roughly 20,000-square-foot facility in Cleveland, and another 10,000-square-foot facility in Bradenton, Florida, offering an extensive range of engine-centric products.

During the podcast, Rick and Bill also talk about: 

  • :53 – Growing up in the family business
  • 3:26 – The origins of United Motor Products
  • 4:41 – What running a family business means to Rick
  • 6:11 – A look at UMP’s full product offering
  • 7:11 – The scoop on Rick’s other roles as partner in Engine Technologies and United Manufacturing Services
  • 7:33 – How these three businesses work together
  • 9:14 – Changes in the marketplace today
  • 11:43 – The importance of staying nimble and agile
  • 13:32 – Rick’s take on the EV market
  • 16:03 – What’s next for UMP?
  • 18:54 – The ever-popular Lightning Round!

AMN Drivetime is sponsored by Litens.

You May Also Like

Detecting Leaks in Automotive A/C Systems

A telltale symptom of a leak is a decrease in cooling performance.

Detecting Leaks in AC Systems

A vehicle’s air-conditioning system operates in a closed loop, meaning that the refrigerant recirculates on a constant path through the same components to cool the car. 

If the system is functioning as it was designed, there shouldn’t be anywhere for the refrigerant to escape. So, if the A/C system isn’t cooling the car, it’s a clear indication that there’s a problem – most likely a refrigerant leak.

Jon Owens on the Importance of Volunteering in the Aftermarket

Owens describes what he’s learned from volunteering in the industry and his vision for AACF as its current president.

Jon Owens
Introduction to Keyless Ignition Systems

This technology allows drivers to start their vehicles without the traditional key turn.

Keyless Ignition
Litens Pulleys: You’ll Be Surprised at What’s in the Box

The pulley kit saves time for your customers and takes up less space on the shelf.

Litens tensioners pulleys
Selling Wheel Bearings and Hub Units to DIFM Customers

Using premium wheel bearings means fewer customer comebacks.

Wheel Bearings

Other Posts

Overview of the Clutch System

There are three main components involved: the flywheel, friction disc and pressure plate.

Clutch System
Understanding the Basics of Brake Calipers

There are two main types of brake calipers: floating calipers and fixed calipers.

Brake Calipers
Fundamentals of EV Technology

Electric vehicles offer numerous advantages over traditional gasoline-powered vehicles.

Fundamentals of EV Technology
High-Pressure Fuel Pumps in GDI Systems

High-pressure fuel pumps are precision-machined to generate fuel pressure to the rail up to 2,500 psi.

High Pressure Fuel Pumps