AMN Drivetime Welcomes Industry ‘Lifer’ Rick Maxwell

AMN Drivetime Welcomes Industry ‘Lifer’ Rick Maxwell

Rick and Bill talk about what it means to continue the legacy of a family business.

In this latest episode of AMN Drivetime, Babcox CEO Bill Babcox sits down Rick Maxwell, president and owner of Cleveland-based United Motor Products.

Rick Maxwell is what some in this industry call a “lifer.” He’s been involved in the industry since he was about eight years old, working alongside his father, who began as an aftermarket salesman in 1965 for the originator of B’laster. 

“He worked for a couple of other companies in sales, and that’s how I got into it,” Maxwell said. “I was on the road with him staying in hotels, doing changeovers. … It was fun… after that he decided, ‘Hey, since I’m a sales guy, I want to own a parts store.’ So that’s what he did. He opened a couple of parts stores, so I got into working in a parts store.” 

Maxwell described his dad as a “serial entrepreneur” who was always thinking about the next thing, which is how they went from sales to parts store owners to making spark plugs. “I was making spark plug wires by hand, you know, with a vise and putting the terminals on. And we would take the orders in the morning from the customers, I’d build the sets, we’d deliver ’em next day out of our car. So, it was fun. It was working at home and again, hanging out with the family. It was good,” Maxwell said.

After about two years they moved into a small facility and developed a consolidated spark plug wireline, and according to Rick, this is when things took off. “We’ve kind of just kept moving and morphing into the next thing. So we did that for a while, and then we moved into a little bigger facility, about 10,000 square feet, and we were there for about 10 years and grew the business, and then we moved into where we’re at today.”

Today the company has a roughly 20,000-square-foot facility in Cleveland, Ohio, and another 10,000-square-foot facility in Bradenton, Florida, offering an extensive range of engine-centric products.

During the podcast, Rick and Bill also talk about: 

  • 0:53 Growing up in the family business;
  • 03:26 The origins of United Motor Products;
  • 04:41 What running a family business means to Rick;
  • 06:11 A look at UMP’s full product offering;
  • 07:11 The scoop on Rick’s other roles as a partner in Engine Technologies and United Manufacturing Services;
  • 07:33 How these three businesses work together;
  • 09:14 Changes in the marketplace today;
  • 11:43 The importance of staying nimble and agile;
  • 13:32 Rick’s take on the EV market;
  • 16:03 What’s next for UMP?
  • 18:54 The ever-popular Lightning Round!

AMN Drivetime is sponsored by Litens.

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