A few years ago Transmission Digest reported on the acquisition of Raybestos Powertrain and sister company, Allomatic Products, by the Monomoy Capital Partners Group. Since that time a management team has been assembled and a company with long history in both OE and aftermarket segments of the powertrain industry has continued to develop and bring to market friction clutch plates and related product lines.
Jim Eaton serves as vice president of sales and marketing for the company. He notes, “Raybestos Powertrain is a very experienced brand that has been in this industry for 115 years. We had product in the first automatic transmission. We’ve been at this for a long time and we have a lot of employees, both product development engineers and the people in our manufacturing plants, who have built a career at Raybestos Powertrain.”
CEO Paul Bogutsky agrees, pointing out that the Raybestos Powertrain brand is something that commands a great deal of respect among professional transmission rebuilders and repair shops.
“Raybestos Powertrain has a great, well-known name that we want to expand on. We have many distributor partners that carry our frictions, steels and modules,” he says.
Bogutsky explains he originally came to the company to serve as the chief finance officer. “Originally my goal was to manage the finance team and hire my replacement.
“I found the team here to be passionate in what they do and was impressed with the opportunity we have to grow and to create a lot of value, not only for the company but for the 239 people who work here as well. This indeed is a small town with a dedicated and proud workforce that wants to grow this business. As time went on, an opportunity presented itself and I was promoted to CEO.”
Operations Vice President Lorenzo Muhammad describes the company’s facilities, saying, “Our manufacturing facility in Crawfordsville, Ind., contains our paper mill where we produce the friction materials that are bonded and assembled into the Raybestos Powertrain clutch plates.
“There are three additional locations including the Sullivan, Ind., facility mainly used for aftermarket products. Also in Sullivan, just down the road, is our plant where a lot of the heavy-duty stamping operations take place on some very large stamping presses. And we have the Steel Parts manufacturing facility in Tipton, Ind., where the company manufactures high-quality stamped parts, mostly for use by OEs.”
Muhammad goes on to say that while the company has other product lines, it always has and always will be known as one of the world’s largest manufacturers of automatic transmission friction plates. “One product aspect that makes us different from some others in the business is the development of specialized materials and groove patterns for specific applications.
We manufacture OE-quality friction material as well as friction clutch plates for OE replacement under our HT Hybrid Technology or GPX (Honda/Acura) brands. Beyond stock replacements, the Raybestos GPZ brand offers a drop-in replacement with enhanced performance characteristics, the ZPAK brand provides additional torque capacity, and for extreme torque applications we offer the TORQKIT brand that has wide acceptance in performance diesel and towing applications. We finish out the product lines with a couple of friction clutch plates designed for racing applications including the Stage-1 red friction plates used widely by the guy who drives his vehicle all week and then takes it to the track on the weekend, and the Gen 2 Blue Plate Special, our ultimate high-torque capacity racing clutch.”
The management team points out that there are two distinct functions, research/development and quality manufacturing, that have been successfully combined to create the popularity of the Raybestos Powertrain brand.
Eaton explains, “At the Technical Center in Crawfordsville they’re involved with new, OEM development for the latest and even future transmissions. We can then apply that same body of knowledge with a very good engineering team that allows us to develop innovative products for the aftermarket. That exceptional team, which includes Angela Petroski and Irvin Gers, keeps us up to date on the needs of both OE and aftermarket customers.
“That team provides our technical expertise for all products that are friction and transmission oriented. Their various projects apply to OE product as well as to aftermarket replacement products. It takes the same knowledge and expertise to do the job right, no matter who the customer is going to be.
“If our Raybestos Powertrain technical team engineered the OE product, then we’re very capable of applying that knowledge to providing aftermarket versions for the various Raybestos Powertrain brand applications. If we didn’t do the OE design, then that same team will design an aftermarket replacement that will equal or exceed the OE clutch plate as well as developing the characteristics of the enhanced performance versions we’re going to provide to the marketplace.
“There’s a lot of flexibility in what we can offer in aftermarket applications as we’re able to provide everything from an OE or OE-quality replacement clutch to the extreme products we manufacture for towing and racing applications.
Melissa Templeton, the company’s marketing manager, adds that oftentimes the process is initiated by looking to create an improved product that will have better performance characteristics than the OE clutch exhibited.
“We very much look to hear from customers who can discuss the challenges they are having,” Eaton says. “These discussions are springboards for innovation. We collect that kind of feedback from our sales team or the website and from seminars and shows that we attend. Andy Mayfield and Pete Santiago, who represent our North American sales group, bring us a lot of comments from the customers they serve.
“We pride ourselves on being small enough to move quickly in adopting new processes and innovations. We can make quick decisions based on the analytical data systems that we maintain. We need to react quickly to the market, but we need to base our decisions on something more substantial than a hunch.”
Bogutsky added, “An important approach we take to increasing our capabilities is inclusion of our employees in the management of the facilities and the processes. We took an employee survey recently and I was impressed that our people want to take a role and have an impact on improving our product lines and making our facilities run more effectively and efficiently.”
Muhammad says that Raybestos Powertrain is working to solve the needs of customers on several levels all at the same time. “The reality of the aftermarket is we must be addressing the way people use their vehicles. Something we see happening right now is people who purchase a brand new truck will immediately have the transmission taken apart and replace the clutches with something designed for higher torque. We have and will continue to support that type of driver activity by coming to market with a range of clutch options to fit nearly any need.
In the end, our customer may be an OEM, a repair shop, an aftermarket distributor, a production rebuilder or the owner of an individual vehicle.
No matter who the customer is, Raybestos Powertrain wants to be there to provide product that will allow the performance they want to achieve.”
Sullivan Plant Manager Dean Decker says the success of the company is largely based in its workforce. “I’ve been involved with automotive manufacturing since 1992, primarily with Japanese OE suppliers. I’m here because of that company culture and the family-feel that our team exhibits. There’s a pride that’s taken in the Raybestos Powertrain brand and a commitment to making customer satisfaction No. 1. While this is a small community where one might think the demographics would hinder finding a relatively large skilled workforce, we find that not to be the case. Raybestos Powertrain is the company where people in this community and the surrounding area want to work.”
Concluding, Bogutsky agrees that stewarding the prestige of the Raybestos Powertrain brand name is based on assembling “the right people who have the skills, the experience and the motivation to grow the company by providing value for its customers.”