Pushing for a cleaner future in the auto care industry
Patrick Verriet understands the importance of developing strong relationships in the auto care sector while also planning for a sustainable future. Key Account Manager at MANN+HUMMEL, Chairperson for the Young Professionals in the Auto Care Sector, and a board member at the Automotive Material Stewardship of Ontario, Verriet balances two types of roles in his career: focusing on customer relationships while being behind the scenes and encouraging sustainable practices in the aftermarket.
Key Account Manager at MANN+HUMMEL
You have two main focuses in your current roles: ensuring a positive brand experience and facilitating environmental regulatory compliance. How have your roles helped advocate for cleaner filtration systems and minimize pollution?
MANN+HUMMEL puts a lot into research and development and advocating for a cleaner future, for both original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and for the auto care industry. We work on increasing sustainability for the future but also for the present.
If we speak to current sustainability initiatives, for example, we are seeing an increase in more cartridge oil filters rather than steel containers where possible. Cartridge oil filters are generally easier to recycle than steel—there is much less processing involved. Whereas with a steel container, fully extracting the oil out of the container and recycling the steel is much more difficult, time-consuming, and sometimes, not as effective.
Another example is cabin air filtration. Advanced cabin air filters are going to be a significant part of our vehicles in the near future. What the pandemic has done is shine a spotlight on the importance of air quality and the amount of time that people spend in their cars and traffic.
So, instead of using a simple cabin air filter, MANN+HUMMEL is working towards comprehensive filtration systems, which will include a prefilter and recirculating filter inside the car. This will ensure that when drivers are in their car, sitting in traffic, they are breathing in healthy, high-quality filtered air, which is free of fine dust particles and allergens, just to name a few.
I do believe that MANN+HUMMEL is well prepared for the shift to
My role with the Automotive Material Stewardship of Ontario involves ensuring that manufacturers facilitate the responsible recycling of oil containers, antifreeze containers, and more, in a compliant and sustainable manner.
Overall, both of my roles emphasize sustainability. Whether this involves ensuring parts are recycled properly or working for an organization that encourages sustainable practices in the automotive industry.
What would you say is the biggest challenge in your role?
Currently, one of the biggest challenges in the auto care industry is getting through the aftereffects of the pandemic and the havoc that it wreaked in our supply chain—it has definitely been interesting coming out of it. The industry, as a whole is, fortunately getting more even-keeled now. It has been a challenge to make sure that we can supply the right kind of product at the right time for our customers.
Another challenge regarding COVID-19 is regarding our customer relationships. It has been hard getting those relationships going again—after all, face to face contact is important. We tried incredibly hard to maintain those relationships during lockdown and doing what was required, such as Zoom meetings, but nothing beats the face-to-face camaraderie.
I truly believe that people are the best part of this industry. Now that I can go out in person, I look forward to it every day and rekindling those relationships.
What is the biggest challenge when it comes to helping make the industry cleaner—environmentally wise—overall?
When it comes to making the industry more sustainable, it appears that the biggest challenge is getting that infrastructure up and running and recognizing the convergence of things that have to happen to get sustainable transportation on the road.
Currently, I would say we are working in a hybrid business model of sorts—where we are working towards the future and meeting the needs of customers. Having sustainable and clean transportation on the road does not just happen with the flip of a switch. All the infrastructure, such as charging stations, hydrogen fueling stations, and widespread recycling, needs to come first.
There are great ideas, but unfortunately, they cannot happen overnight. It goes back to creating this infrastructure to allow these new technologies to succeed.
We know where the future is. We can see it with the emergence of electric vehicles (EVs), especially. That being said, we still have all these cars on the road and the infrastructure that comes with it. So, there are quite a few variables that are up in the air that really have to come together.
How do you plan to bridge the gap between meeting customer needs while advocating for clean filtration systems?
The sheer will to get there in terms of sustainability is there—everyone is going in the same direction. Fortunately, there is not too much of a gap. Our distribution partners know that we (MANN+HUMMEL) are going to take them into the future and that we are doing the necessary work now to get them where they need to be. But, in the short term, getting everyone on board with clean, sustainable transportation—without the matching infrastructure—is going to be challenging.
What is exciting for our customers is that there is going to be more parts to sell and more things that we can service and get behind with this innovation and emergence of sustainable automotive technology. So, it will be a great opportunity to provide those parts to whoever needs them.
Everyone at MANN+HUMMEL marches in the same direction of sustainability and having a cleaner future through filtration. Fortunately, our customers are fully supportive of this because they want a partner that is going to be with them as technology changes.
About the Young Professionals in the Auto care sector
Young Professionals in the Auto care sector (YPA) is an Automotive Industries Association of Canada (AIA Canada) community comprising of young executives, of 45 years or younger, in the Canadian auto care sector. They support the career growth of young professionals by expanding their network and assisting them in becoming a thought leader in Canada’s auto care industry.