Caring About More Than Just Auto Parts

Standard Motor Products, Inc.

3. Good Health and Well-Being 4. Quality Education 5. Gender Equality 12. Responsible Consumption and Production 13. Climate Action

Overview

SMP does not have one specific innovation that solves the UN SDGs; instead, several UN SDGs are embedded within the company’s culture and daily business operations. Although they are numerous, the strongest UN SDGs rooted in SMP are good health and well-being, quality education, gender equality, responsible consumption and production, and climate change.

Authors

Kuljit Kaur

Kuljit Kaur

Katerina Despotoulis

Katerina Despotoulis

Frank Servedio

Frank Servedio

Karolina Kaleta

Karolina Kaleta

School

St. John's University

St. John's University

Professor

Charles Wankel

Charles Wankel

Innovation

Good health and well-being: Regarding well-being, SMP considers three factors: physical health, emotional satisfaction in doing work, and financial health.Concerning physical health, SMP’s health benefits plan is available to all of its employees across the organization. To make sure people are on top of their health, SMP introduced their Wellness Program where employees are required to get annual physicals and complete a tobacco agreement to avoid an increase in their premiums. Every year, the company hosts a health fair at their Long Island City location to offer its employees biometric screening, PSA testing, flu shots, and other services. For financial health, SMP partners with Fidelity for their 401K program, and Fidelity provides many tools to aid employees in making good financial decisions. Finally, with respect to emotional satisfaction, SMP assembled an engagement committee to set up activities to make sure employees are “enjoying their time here and feel they are part of something other than doing their job,” Tesoro said.

Quality education: This year, SMP gave away 14 different scholarships, totaling $70,000, to not only support the future of the automotive industry, but promote continuous learning opportunities for its employees. After working for the company for a year, full-time employees can pursue a bachelor’s degree or master’s degree and take part in the Tuition Reimbursement program. SMP also offers training and development courses to help its employees sharpen their skills including workshops on effective presentation skills, writing skills, and the most recent, uncovering unconscious biases.

Gender equality: A new scholarship offered this year was the “Women in Auto Care Scholarship,” in which SMP partnered with Women in Auto Care (WIAC), an organization dedicated to supporting and empowering women in the industry. This year, the Senior Director of Category Management at SMP, Olivia Newton, was named the Chair of the WiAC organization. When hiring, SMP makes sure it has a diverse slate and chooses the best candidate regardless of race or gender. It also tracks how many women are promoted, making sure they are given equal opportunities. The finance department was recently re-organized and approximately 50% of the lineup were women.

Responsible consumption and production: SMP focuses on investments that help them become a more eco-friendly and sustainable company. In 2017, SMP decided to cut back on producing printed buyers guides and launched digital interactive buyers guides. Every facility is committed to the principles of reduce, reuse and recycle. To reduce waste by limiting the use of disposable cups and plastic water bottles, the engagement committee gave each employee a reusable mug and water bottle. SMP takes pride in its remanufacturing process, in which pre-used parts are returned to a same-as-new or better condition, which saves energy and reduces waste.

Climate change: SMP puts a strong emphasis on environmental stewardship and understands that human activity negatively affects climate. In May 2019, SMP shared its Environmental Policy Statement stating its commitment to conducting business responsibly and how they plan to do so. SMP also recently introduced its Alternative Energies initiative. Since carbon emissions highly contribute to climate change, this newly created division focuses on alternative fuel applications, such as natural gas, autogas, and electricity, and creating products acceptable for these cleaner alternatives.

Caring About More Than Just Auto Parts

Inspiration

Tesoro noted that “SMP has always been a company that believed in being a good corporate citizen, both to the employees that we have and in the communities.” In his 15 years at the company, Tesoro has seen the company come a long way. “This industry was dominated by white men. Once the customers began to change, we knew we had to change,” he explained. “Now we have women vice presidents running our distribution centers. We have come a long way in the 15 years I have been here where 49% of our workforce became diverse.” Companies must realize and embrace the changes that need to happen to stay successful in today’s times. Up until recently, SMP did not have a way to track the “volunteerism” in the company. This is where the SMP Cares initiative comes into play. The company set up a website where they are “highlighting all the things that their people are doing,” he added. SMP Cares was introduced two years ago and has three basic elements: corporate governance, environmentalism, and the social aspect.

Overall impact

Each innovation has its own type of positive impact on the company, environment, and local communities. SMP places its employees above all and cares deeply for the communities they serve. The company ‘s culture and beliefs will have a strong long-term effect on its future. Some of the most important impacts are the health and well-being of each employee, diversity, and employee education and development. Tesoro emphasized that “SMP is a company with powerful family beliefs and incorporates a style of leadership that cares about every employee with a family mindset.” Essentially, everyone feels like they are a part of something bigger. Also, the company provides access to inclusive healthcare methods to maintain a safe working environment. In addition, SMP takes an initiative regarding communication, as they perform daily check-ins with each employee to guarantee their safety and ability to work amidst a pandemic. Furthermore, the company has a sizable education program, providing 14 different scholarships for students pursuing careers in the automotive industry. Education opportunities such as technical training and skill training are available for employees who wish to attain a higher degree or level of education. SMP pays a stipend of tuition costs to help people and encourage them to study and develop their skills that will ultimately have a long-term effect on their workers as well as the company. Other long-term effects of the innovation include an environment promoting gender equality and diversity for the company. SMP makes sure they are putting the effort and time to create an inclusive work environment for all genders and races. These impacts demand a great deal of work and time but have been proven to be achievable through their all-encompassing methods and values.

Business benefit

The UN SDGs embedded within SMP not only benefit the company but help benefit the local communities and the environment. SMP supports innovation such as quality education, gender equality, good health and well-being, climate change, and responsible consumption and production. The company introduced the SMP Cares website as a dedication to highlighting its efforts supporting local communities. This website is a destination for SMP employees and the general public to learn more about how the organization is giving back.

SMP prioritizes environmental stewardship which helps with innovations such as climate change. The company uses its environmental stewardship policy for managing environmental resources such as energy and water, implementing effective environmental management systems, reducing waste, and improving efficiencies make sound business sense. This innovation benefits the business over the long-term because they recognize that only a sustainable approach, which includes actively identifying, assessing, and managing these environmental risks, will benefit the company and its valuable stakeholders, including the communities where it operates. “SMP believes that our efforts to mitigate these and other climate-related risks also present opportunities,” Tesoro noted. “For example, we have sought to improve operating efficiencies and reduce costs through investments in energy-efficient facility upgrades, such as lighting fixtures, and through the completion of plant rationalization programs at several principal manufacturing and distribution facilities. We also continuously look to expand our product offering by adding new product categories in response to new and evolving vehicle technologies, including those relating to the ignition, emissions, and fuel economy systems of motor vehicles.”

All of this would not be possible without the employees that work at the company. SMP assists their employees in their career and education growth and believes highly in employee wellbeing. SMP provides a collaborative work environment. It gives employees the tools to get active, healthy, and live better every day. “To ensure that employees are taking good care of themselves, we expect people to take their physical, and we have health fairs regularly where employees can get their flu shots, and get their regular check-up,” Tesoro added.

Along with their health, SMP has an education program that assists employees in tuition reimbursement or educating employees on their retirement plans and savings. SMP invests in its employees' education, knowing in return, the business will benefit from having well-educated and talented employees. These innovations also benefit the business by having a low turnover rate for the company, and the employees are motivated to put in the effort to make the company grow as a team. “When you put all those things together in a nice big picture, what you end up with is a job where people come and they stay,” he noted. Overall, SMP has a global impact. The company has an estimated 4,200 employees worldwide. SMP will continue to have a positive impact on the environment, climate change, local communities, their employees, and their business as they continue to implement new strategies to make their workplace safer and more environmentally friendly.

Social and environmental benefit

SMP has made several strides for the betterment of its employees, society, and surrounding communities. Through these efforts, SMP has been able to provide aftermarket automotive parts with a greater sense of awareness, sensitivity, and acknowledgment of being bigger than just an automotive company. SMP’s efforts for the betterment of humanity is evident within its dedication to providing wellness, gender equality, environmental awareness, and education benefits. Its commitment to providing wellness and overall promotion of good health is seen through its “Wellness Program,” in which employees can receive healthcare tips, care, and even immunizations. During the unprecedented times of the COVID-19 pandemic, SMP followed all CDC guidelines and promoted employees to work remotely and safely. As an essential business with many employees working hands-on, employees needed to return to work. To ensure employee safety, they installed plexiglass all around the office and created a touchless environment in all of their locations.

The company’s commitment to providing gender equality is also apparent within the statistics in regard to the increasing number of women being hired. Although the automotive industry is predominantly male, SMP has seen its rates of employment for women increase, most notably in recent years. In addition, it has incorporated education benefits for its employees, furthering their allegiance to investing in people’s skill sets. While working for the company, employees have the opportunity to receive their next level of education for free or at a reduced cost. Lastly, environmental awareness has become a major initiative for the company. Within the last three years, they have reduced lead time by up to 70% and costs by up to 90% while reducing manufacturing waste. SMP has implemented the reduce, reuse recycle mindset and initiative in all of its facilities.

Interview

Tom Tesoro, Senior Vice President of Human Resources

Photo of interviewee

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Standard Motor Products, Inc.

Standard Motor Products, Inc.

Long Island City, New York, US

Business Website: https://www.smpcorp.com/en

Year Founded: 1919

Number of Employees: 1001 to 5000

Standard Motor Products (SMP) is a leading manufacturer, distributor, and marketer in the automotive aftermarket industry. Founded in 1919 and publicly traded since 1976, SMP has a unique characteristic that many companies with this lineage do not have: the current CEO, Eric Sills, is the great-grandson of the founder of SMP, Elias Fife. As the Senior Vice President of Human Resources, Tom Tesoro, said, Standard Motor Products “managed to keep a continuity of leadership over 100 years within the family.” This continuity is one of the major keys in understanding the culture and values of SMP that contribute to how SMP operates in coordination with the UN Global Goals for Sustainable Development.