Tenneco Inc. celebrated 100 years of the Monroe Shocks and Struts brand on May 20 at the company’s global aftermarket facility in Monroe, Mich. Tenneco executive Jeff Koviak credits the brand’s longevity to "staying close" to customers.
“The brand’s continued strength is proof of the value of remaining close to your customers,” says Koviak, who is vice president and general manager of North America Aftermarket for Tenneco.
“Throughout our history, we have listened to and learned from the professionals who stock, sell and install our products and have used this insight to develop solutions and programs that make our customers more successful.”
More than 300 guests, including employees, government officials, representatives of the North American auto industry and other VIPs, helped Tenneco celebrate a century of Monroe Shocks and Struts.
Special guests included descendants of Monroe founder, August Meyer, and his business partner, Charles McIntyre, who helped make the brand an early leader in ride control technology.
“Today is a celebration of the innovation and passion for excellence that have made Monroe a leading global brand over the past century and which will drive its continued growth over the next 100 years,” Tenneco Chairman and CEO Gregg Sherrill told the audience.
“This is one of the elite industry brands that defines its category, particularly in the minds of automotive service professionals who each day choose Monroe products to help deliver a superior driving experience for their customers.”
It started with a tire pump
The brand’s origins date back to 1916, when Meyer established a tire pump manufacturing company in Monroe, Mich. He soon formed a partnership with McIntyre, a local automobile dealer. The company in 1919 was renamed Monroe Automobile Equipment Manufacturing Company (later shortened to Monroe Auto Equipment Company).
It wasn’t until 1926, with demand for tire pumps having peaked, that the partners developed their first shock absorber, the Monroe Shock Eliminator, which was based largely on the single-barrel tire pump. The company invented the first double-action shock in 1929 and by 1933 was a leading supplier to Detroit-based vehicle manufacturers. Monroe introduced shocks for railroad passenger cars in 1938 and by 1951 had become one of North America’s leading suppliers of shock absorbers both to vehicle manufacturers and the aftermarket.
“One of the hallmarks of great companies and brands is their ability to anticipate and address emerging challenges and opportunities,” says Koviak. “The shift to ride control in 1926 is a perfect example of this, as were our investment in products and programs to serve the growing aftermarket beginning in the 1950s; Tenneco’s expansion into the strut category in the early 1980s; and our development of complete strut assemblies in 2003.”
Resiliency sparks product leadership
Tenneco acquired Monroe Auto Equipment Co. in 1977. Koviak says the resiliency of both companies enabled them to maintain product leadership despite changes in ride control technology throughout the years.
“Monroe and Tenneco have always been extraordinarily resilient. When demand for tire pumps began to slow in the early 1920s, August Meyer and Charles McIntyre realized that the same technology could be adapted to a new and more promising opportunity – the suspension damper.
“Following World War II, we were among the first aftermarket companies and brands to anticipate the explosive growth of the replacement parts market. And when things became more challenging, such as when carmakers began to shift to smaller, lighter, front-wheel-drive vehicles in the 1970s, Tenneco was quick to invest in the development and production of MacPherson struts, both for the original equipment and replacement markets.”
He says the Monroe Quick-Strut assembly is a recent example of a product that “revolutionized the economics of strut replacement by dramatically reducing installation time.”
'Setting the stage' for the next generation
Tenneco introduced the latest Tenneco and Monroe brand innovations for the original equipment and replacement markets at the 100th anniversary celebration. These included the OE-focused Monroe Intelligent Suspension portfolio, which comprises adaptive, semi-active and active suspension solutions, serving all vehicle segments. The company says the Monroe Intelligent Suspension technologies are "setting the stage for a potential new generation of aftermarket ride control products."
Tenneco is an $8.2 billion global manufacturing company with headquarters in Lake Forest, Ill., and approximately 30,000 employees worldwide. Tenneco designs, manufactures, and markets clean air and ride performance products and systems for automotive and commercial vehicle original equipment markets and the aftermarket. Tenneco’s principal brand names are Monroe, Walker, XNOx and Clevite Elastomer.