Far and Wide: 3M’s ties with the automotive aftermarket date back to the beginning

By Maddy Kylie

On August 12, 2020, 3M’s Automotive Aftermarket division Business Manager Craig Jalbert sat down with Collision Repair’s Maddy Kylie to discuss how 3M has helped Canada’s automotive aftermarket survive the pandemic, in an exclusive live webinar.

Craig has worked for 3M’s aftermarket division for 16 years now and is currently going into his 17th year. Within 3M’s automotive aftermarket division, he has worked in a variety of roles, and has thoroughly enjoyed serving the industry.

“I can see the passion in this industry and it’s just fun to be a part of it.”

In the webinar, Craig broke-down 3M’s 100-year-plus history with the automotive aftermarket. He explained that 3M originated in 1902 as a smallscale mining venture, however, it quickly grew into several other industries—one of the first being the automotive aftermarket.

The first product 3M manufactured specifically for the aftermarket was WetorDry Sandpaper in 1917, followed by Scotch Masking Tape in 1925. “We’ve invested in the aftermarket from the early stages of the 1900s—at the grassroots of this industry,” he said.

“We invested innovation to bring the first waterproof paper to the industry. So, this produced less friction, less dust, in a shop in the early 1900s. And then, the second milestone— which is kind of unique and I think the people in the aftermarket should be proud of that—is in 1925, we brought in masking tape. We pivoted as a company—it was an abrasive company—to start bringing in masking tapes. And this was the first scotch platform that used scotch tape and that was invented in the aftermarket division.”

And, the rest is history, in the following years, 3M continued to bring innovation to the aftermarket with products such as panel bonding adhesives, Trizact, PPS, soft edge foam masking tape, and many more.

Having been in such a, as Craig put it, “a long marriage” with the automotive aftermarket, when the pandemic hit the company really wanted to provide support to the industry, while of course continuing to service all of its global customers.

Since 3M is a global company that covers a wide array of industries, they had to make some tough calls, said Craig.

For instance, prior to the pandemic only 10 percent of the PPE 3M produced was being used in healthcare. However, with COVID-19 the company doubled its output and 90 percent of its PPE went to frontline workers.

“It was all hands-on deck to bring that output.”

However, throughout the pandemic 3M never abandoned the aftermarket.

Since the onset of the virus, the company has kept all of its aftermarket team employed, as well as communicated very closely with customers to understand their needs.

“We wanted to make sure that we were servicing our customers, we created and developed internal projects and surveys,” he said. “We were touching base to understand that it wasn’t just about bringing a product solution, it was understanding what they need, and what we could bring to the industry during these times.”

3M also collaborated and formed partnerships with various automotive companies during the pandemic to produce PPE, some of which include Ford, Cummins and MIT.

In 3M’s collaboration with Ford the two companies produced a new PAPR for healthcare providers.

“[3M’s partnership with Ford] was a unique one and was in early stages of this. So, I commend Ford and 3M for collaborating on this, and understanding the need for healthcare providers, frontline workers,” he said. “And, what’s impressive is they actually turned that around in four-weeks.”

3M has been a rock throughout the pandemic. The company has committed over $10 million in cash and product donations to support humanitarian aid, throughout the entire pandemic it did not increase the price of its N95 masks, all while keeping a close eye on the aftermarket.

Craig attributes a large part of 3M’s ability to multitask in these unprecedented times to communication.

“We’ve been a proud supporter of this [automotive] industry—as everyone knows—for many years. So, our goal was internal and external communication. You know, making sure that everyone understands what we’re doing internally and also what we’re communicating externally to our channel, our channel partners, and also our customers. There’s a lot of question marks during the challenges with PPE. What’s happening? What’s happening to Canada? We wanted to make sure we communicated to our channel partners, to our networks and our customers how we were pivoting what we’re trying to do, what we’re trying to accomplish.”

Now, that Canada is moving into later stages of the pandemic Craig and the Automotive Aftermarket team at 3M are excited to provide continual support to the aftermarket and bring more new products and value-add solutions to the industry.

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