With ThermoQuiet, Federal Mogul brings innovation to the automotive aftermarket, with a brake pad that eliminates the usual need for a “shim” used to dampen noise, resulting in a quieter, more durable part, with high customer satisfaction and actual brand preference. Their "integrally molded insulator," placed between the backing plate and the friction material, is a neat design concept supported by sophisticated acoustic engineering and testing capabilities. To bring it to the aftermarket required adapting the initial design and developing new manufacturing techniques to allow it to be utilized for the hundreds of SKUs that comprise an aftermarket product line.
Product is only part of their innovation. They also applied clever marketing, from the sharp packaging of visually distinctive, silver-painted pads, to sales made directly to service providers, using unexpected free samples. This helped them create a distinctive, branded, premium brake pad segment, in an industry where ready entry by overseas suppliers had been pushing down prices and margins of existing products. Furthermore, ThermoQuiet really “works as advertised,” eliminating the noise that leads to repair shop "comebacks" and customer complaints in what is the single most common vehicle repair. As a result, service technicians are asking for ThermoQuiet by name. Distributors are adding new customers, helping Federal Mogul to increase penetration of its non-brake aftermarket lines.
Finally, innovation proved central to organizational change. As an unintended by-product of two acquisitions in 1998, Federal Mogul found itself the largest global supplier of friction products. But these were spread across five companies, each with its own strategies, product specifications, and manufacturing and marketing operations. The development of ThermoQuiet helped Federal Mogul build a single team out of formerly rival organizations, across the full range of functions. Instead of a backwater business destined for divestiture, Wagner Braking is now a corporate exemplar, and its innovation process is now being carried to the rest of Federal Mogul's aftermarket operations.