Curbing Product Management with Clay Hendricks, Hayes Performance Systems

The Brake Report recently caught up with Clay Hendricks, product manager for Hayes Performance Systems.

Do you perhaps mind sharing a little about your current role, maybe a little about your background?

I’m a product manager at Hayes Performance for our Power business, we have motorsports, construction and agriculture, and a government company within the Power business. So I represent all of them and dictate the direction of our products as well as our current product portfolio.

How long have you been a product manager at Hayes?

I’ve been with Hayes for about seven years now and in product management for about three years. I started on the engineering side, design side, engineering side, application engineering side, and now our product management side.

Can you share a brief overview of Hayes? Maybe who you are and what do you all do?

We just celebrated our 75th anniversary last year. We started as a machining company and quickly moved into developing brakes for go-karts in the 1950s. This led to some great partnerships in the 1950s, 60s and 70s with some motorsports legends, then also in the field of construction. Snowmobiles, golf carts and go-karts were the origin of Hayes and it is still an important part of our business today.

Can you tell us a bit about the day in the life of product management?

We have a quarterly activity review scheduled for the Product Management role here in Q2. The main focus for us is to initiate and review projects that are active in our portfolio and development life cycle. So continuing with the program teams, identifying the feasibility of our projects and ensuring commercialization is where it needs to succeed in the marketplace. We move into the third quarter in our planning for the year to finally budget the fourth quarter, then the first quarter kicks off and we start the cycle all over again. So we have a whole range of programs that are in different stages, mixed in with all the future-facing stuff, i.e. obsolescence and sunset and looking at products ready for retirement.

Do you spend more time on engineering or sales and finance?

I value my time with the sales teams because it’s the voice of the customer that I need to set our direction to ensure our alignment is where it needs to be. I have the engineering background that we talked about, so it fits well with ongoing projects and programs and I’m in touch with the engineering team as they go through their development phases and things like that. So I still like to wear that from time to time. I definitely focus on the customer side, then finance. We review the feasibility of our programs and make sure we are where we need to be.

Regarding the selection and knowledge of future products to launch, is it more about listening to the customer or is it more about the market in general?

It’s both. We’ve definitely gone through a transition from a more customer-focused approach in the past to a more market-focused approach now. It’s a change we’ve made over the past five years here at Hayes, which was to focus on customers and to be prepared for customers who aren’t our current customers. Today, we must be this market-oriented company. So focusing on the customers we have, the conversations we have are a bit too short-sighted for us. It is definitely one of my goals and those of our companies to be a market driven company. We have different market studies that are also part of my daily life to understand what the market positions are, what the different markets are doing, whether it is a product or a vehicle segment, and then establish correlations between these vehicles and the brakes that we will need in the future to suit these vehicle customer vehicles.

What specific models or segments do you typically focus on?

Our big ones are Motorcycle, UTV, ATV and Snow. Those are the big four for us in motorsports. And then we have heavy equipment, which is construction and agriculture. There’s industry, which is all sorts of other uses of brakes that aren’t so categorized, and then there’s government.

So, while we’re talking about product management, do you want to talk about any specific products launched recently?

Yeah, absolutely. So the UTV segment is one that has been a priority for us recently. Obviously, this segment is growing in the market and has done very well for us. It was a growth in the ATV space. They used a lot of ATV gear for a while and then started bringing their own gear into this side-by-side UTV category. And then now we’re progressing to borderline heavy stuff, to an automotive line of design and structure and stuff like that. Our Sovren caliper is the one we recently launched for our side-by-side category and it is performing very well right now in racing and early product validations.

What makes the Sovren line of products different or special compared to other products you’ve had or maybe other things on the market right now?

The key is support. It features full torque support, which is much more robust for the high weights, vehicle weights and vehicle speeds we see in this class and anticipate in the future. We have a higher pressure capacity for this brake caliper which allows you to lean harder when you need to stop or slow this vehicle down. So those are the big two, the bracket and the caliper on the pressure range it handles with the bracket. It has better sound performance than our previous models and it really brings that premium feature to the category.

Learn more about Hayes

Hayes Performance Systems is a global manufacturer of brakes, suspension systems, wheels and components. Our superior products and systems inspire confidence in all types of riders, from powersports and tractor riders to motorcycle and ATV riders. Our markets include mountain bikes, powersports, agriculture, construction, government and specialty categories.

Our headquarters are in Mequon, Wis., USA. No matter how far we grow internationally, our Midwestern roots make us value partnerships, be approachable and listen first. We strive to think through the eyes of our drivers, dealers, distributors and OEM customers who appreciate our collaborative approach as they explore innovative ways to proactively solve their changing needs for reliable systems and products.

Click here to find out more.