- 6 Min Read
- By: Michael Roselli
FCP Euro Welcomes Eric Lough As VP Of Business Development
FCP Euro is excited to welcome a new member to our growing team, Eric Lough. Eric, the former VP of Product at PDM Automotive, joins FCP Euro and our Executive Team as VP of Business Development. Below is a Q&A with Eric’s personal and professional history, why he’s excited about his new opportunity with FCP Euro, and what we can accomplish together.
Eric, do you want to tell us a bit about what got you started in the automotive aftermarket?
First and foremost, I come from an automotive family, which is where my love for the automotive aftermarket stems from. My father worked on the business side of the aftermarket for companies such as Echlin, Dana, and Standard Motor Products, which taught me early on how important relationship building and personal connections are within an industry that’s ultimately focused on car parts. We still found time to wrench together on our cars and motorcycles, and growing up I always thought I’d end up as a mechanic or an engineer. When it came time for college, however, I made the decision to focus on the business end of things to follow those personal connections that make the automotive aftermarket what it is today.
After my first few years at Northwood University, the only college that’s focused specifically on the aftermarket sector, I eventually landed a job at WHI Solutions Inc. as a Data Acquisition Coordinator. I knew nothing about data, let alone automotive catalog data, but I was driven and taught myself what I needed to know. After 7.5 years with WHI Solutions, even through their eBay acquisition which gave me a glimpse into the eCommerce world, I wanted more and looked for the next step in my career.
PartsTech Inc. at the time was building the next generation of commercial eCommerce and, as fate would have it, their founders Greg Kirber and Erik St.Pierre approached me about building their catalog. I was faced with the scariest decision of my career, stay with the job that paid well at an established company, or leave it all for a startup with only an idea and a vision? I chose the startup and spent the next five and a half years building one of the industries’ largest aftermarket catalogs, while constantly applying the lessons I learned in business school into startup life. As it turns out, it’s not at all what you see in the movies.
FCP Euro was a place I could always envision taking my previous experience in the aftermarket and coupling it with FCP Euro’s growth and opportunities to have a profound impact on our industry. If WHI Solutions was my launchpad, and PartsTech was my rocket fuel, FCP Euro is the moon - it’s an opportunity I could not pass up.
Ultimately, PartsTech was where I realized what I wanted to do within the aftermarket - leave it better than I found it. If WHI Solutions was my launchpad, PartsTech was my rocket fuel, immersing myself into the community at conferences like ACPN, Auto Care Leadership Days, AAPEX, and so on. The conferences showed me entire communities of people just as passionate about the industry as I was, fueling my passion even more, pushing me to land my first seat on the Auto Care Market Intelligence Committee, eventually growing into a Vice Chairman role when I decided to join the ACPN Committee. I then joined the Auto Care Technology Standards Committee, rising to become Chairman of the ACPN Committee, which is a seat I still occupy today.
After 5.5 years at PartsTech, I was presented with a new opportunity with PDM Automotive to become their VP of Product. It was a welcome challenge that I eventually pursued since it also kept me in the startup life, which I had become fond of.
While I enjoyed my time at PDM Automotive making a positive impact on the organization and community, FCP Euro reached out to see if I’d be interested in making an impact on the industry alongside them. I had an “are you serious?” moment. I had been introduced to FCP Euro’s founder, Nick Bauer, and CEO, Scott Drozd, during my time at PartsTech, and I always thought to myself, “there’s something special here.” FCP Euro was a place I could always envision taking my previous experience in the aftermarket and coupling it with FCP Euro’s growth and opportunities to have a profound impact on our industry. If WHI Solutions was my launchpad, and PartsTech was my rocket fuel, FCP Euro is the moon - it’s an opportunity I could not pass up.
It’s been a long road to get to where I am at, but I’m looking forward to giving back even more to the industry that has given me so much. I can’t wait for what this next chapter of my life has in store and look forward to diving even deeper into the aftermarket while understanding and solving a new set of challenges and opportunities. I’m lucky to have a supportive wife, a beautiful son, and an industry full of colleagues and friends who I look forward to working within this new opportunity.
We’re flattered. Ultimately what drew you to FCP Euro? What’s the opportunity for you here?
FCP Euro just gets it. Anyone can sell parts, but FCP Euro creates a community and an experience around it that’s on track to become a thought leader in the space. Plus, it’s the perfect alignment between my desire to build a better automotive aftermarket and FCP Euro’s mission to help European car owners have a more enjoyable and enduring ownership experience.
Before I accepted the job, I came into FCP Euro and sat with the executive team to see if there was a fit. It’s hard to describe, but it felt like home. A wave of excitement came over me as I saw people working there who were as passionate and as enthusiastic about their cars, their community, and their industry as I was. I knew immediately that I belonged at FCP Euro and that these were my people!
Anyone can buy a part online or at their local store, but those companies can’t bring a community of enthusiasts together to rally around the idea of enjoying their cars as part of that part-buying experience.
In terms of the opportunity, what I know, feel, and believe about FCP Euro is what our customers, our partners, and the entire automotive aftermarket should know about the company as well. We’ve built a community around the part buying process for many customers, as their European cars are a part of their own family, and we want those people and their vehicles to be a part of ours. Anyone can buy a part online or at their local store, but those companies can’t bring a community of enthusiasts together to rally around the idea of enjoying their cars as part of that part-buying experience. That’s what makes FCP Euro unique and special, and that’s what our current customers already know and what our future customers should know. I want to help facilitate that.
What are some of the biggest opportunities you see in the automotive aftermarket right now?
There are three key categories, all with table stakes that are up for grabs. The first is eCommerce itself, the second is data, and the third is partnerships.
For eCommerce, it’s basically an inverse relationship - the more frictionless it is for our customers, the more work we need to do on the backend to create that experience. I think we sometimes overlook the fundamentals of a transaction. We’re asking a customer to give us their hard-earned money for goods and/or services in return; why would I ever want to make that experience a difficult one? Being able to give time back to a customer, no matter how small, creates a strong relationship that’s built on a customer-centric experience. From catalog, to inventory, to shipping, to delivery and returns there’s tons of opportunity to make that experience better for FCP Euro’s customers.
Opportunities to empower and serve our customers through strategic partnerships where there is vision and alignment are opportunities worth pursuing.
For data, you need it to provide that seamless experience I mentioned above and create that speed to market. There’s a huge opportunity to support the next generation of buyers with real-time catalog data, as very soon, the old ways of batched loading and processing of catalog data won’t be supported in the future of digital commerce. Real-time solutions will be needed in order for us to stay relevant and serve our customers; therefore, I see tremendous opportunity for real-time curation and distribution of content and catalog data across our industry and its trading partners.
Last but not least, I know there are growth opportunities with strategic partnerships. It has become clear that no single company holds the key to a customer’s end-to-end experience these days, and that’s why partnerships are so critical. The customer journey has become very complex in order to meet their needs that it’s difficult to have an in-house end-to-end solution. Therefore, there are mutually beneficial opportunities to create strategic partnerships in the aftermarket to create products and solutions that solve the needs of customers in the most effective and efficient way possible. At FCP Euro, they’re always looking to partner with businesses and organizations who want to directly collaborate in solving some of the deep logistical, technical, and educational challenges behind helping the community maintain and enjoy their vehicles. Opportunities to empower and serve our customers through strategic partnerships where there is vision and alignment are opportunities worth pursuing.
Now that you’re working with FCP Euro, what should we expect? What’s next?
FCP Euro has already developed a great culture and a unique perspective on its customers and the industry it lives in. What I envision, and it’ll take some time to develop, is a larger, more impactful presence within our industry at the customer level and at the association and governance level. FCP Euro has a fantastic pool of thought leaders on tap who can greatly impact our industry when given the right platform.
FCP Euro also has and continues to see breakthrough growth of +50% annually with no plans of slowing down. They have a proven formula for growth with their partners and a track record of success stories.
I’m so excited for this opportunity at FCP Euro, as it’s time for them to step up on the larger stage of the automotive aftermarket and share with our industry and our community the passion and the drive they bring to their customers every day. I have no doubt that the FCP Euro team can be a positive disruptive force that will be instrumental in leading our industry into the next generation.