Technology Newsmaker Q&A: Marc Blackman

Jan. 1, 2020
Marc Blackman is the president and CEO of Gold Eagle, a Chicago-based provider of aftermarket fluids, additives, and performance chemicals.

Marc Blackman is the president and CEO of Gold Eagle, a Chicago-based provider of aftermarket fluids, additives, and performance chemicals. Blackman originally joined Gold Eagle as OEM/private label sales manager in 1993. Prior to that, he served as a division manager for Gallo Wine Company, where he was first exposed to the concept of category management, experience that proved helpful when he helped with the initial work on the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Monitor POS tracking system.

What are the biggest technology challenges your company faces?

I think it's the breadth of the customers we have, and that's not just automotive retailers—its other retailers, it's OE customers, we have a wide range of customers that we sell product to. Given that wide range, each of them has different needs in terms of how that product is invoiced, how it is hipped, and whether we use electronic data interchange (EDI). Even with EDI, there are various requirements within that, so we have to take a very customizable approach.

We've now designed a new IT infrastructure for the future that will enable us to handle this and grow for many year. But really having a system that can accommodate all of the various requirements and variables our customers expect is a challenge.

The second aspect of this is the GS1 Global Data Synchronization Network (GDSN). Trying to continue to report all the information by SKU that is worthwhile, which then becomes available with a standardized database that's being developed globally. There are various networking partners and retailers. The retailers can dial into that database to find various part numbers and get all the information they need to download into their systems. That's great, but it's incumbent upon us to make sure we can work within that framework. From a pure technology standpoint, those are the two biggest things that come to mind when you mention technology challenges.

Is there a particular technology or trend that you think holds a lot of promise for the aftermarket?

One in particular that I feel holds a lot of promise is texting technology. There are those scenarios where you go into stores and there will be a sign by the product that says "Text 44901 for further information," or something like that. I think having that type of ability is important. With many of our products and in performance chemicals in general, there is a lot of confusion. The average consumer doesn’t necessarily understand everything about all the products that are available. Anything you can do to make shopping easier and making that purchase decision easier, to provide information on the spot is a good thing.

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