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Vendor Newsmaker Q&A: Pete Murnen

Thursday, October 11, 2012 - 07:52
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Peter T. Murnen is global marketing director, undercar and visibility products, for Federal-Mogul Corporation, with responsibility for the company’s replacement braking, chassis parts, driveline, wheel-end, wiper blade and lighting product lines. He joined Federal-Mogul through its 1998 acquisition of the automotive business of Cooper Industries, Inc., where he had managed the company’s relationship with the Aftermarket Auto Parts Alliance. He was named Federal-Mogul’s group manager, friction, North America, in 1999; marketing director, braking, North America, in 2002; and global marketing director, braking, in 2004. He has helped direct several successful North American product launches, including the Wagner® ThermoQuiet®, Wagner ThermoQuiet CeramicNXT and MOOG® strut assemblies lines. Murnen is a graduate of Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, Ohio.

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Why is it so important for brake distributors to have knowledge of and encourage sales of premium brake lines?

From our perspective at Federal-Mogul, one of the things that sets our premium products apart is we are an OE company. So the same engineers who are designing the OE brake pads for the Big Three, Asian and European vehicle manufacturers are working on our premium aftermarket brake lines. That’s important to consumers and it is important to us. There are a lot of new things going on within the OE sector, and we are on the leading edge of understanding what those things are and how the friction materials should work. To us, it is very important that distributors understand this and encourage the sales of premium brake lines.

A lot of manufacturers that are making mid-range brake products aren’t OE suppliers; they’re only aftermarket suppliers. They are doing the best they can, but we, as a global OE leader, have unique insight to the latest vehicle technologies and brake system operating requirements. As an example, GM is coming out with new brake pads that work on their rotors. They have treated rotors to prevent “lot rot,” which is common when vehicles sit in a lot and the rotors get rusty. The friction material we design for those rotors is different — it has a higher MU level. That is just one example of something an OE is doing and where we are on the leading edge. From a premium standpoint, we design a lot of these things into our premium Wagner ThermoQuiet and ThermoQuiet CeramicNXT brake pads.

Some of our previous OE-inspired innovations have included the Integrally Molded Insulator (IMI) and Wagner EDGE Laser Shaping Technology featured in the ThermoQuiet line. The IMI spreads noise and vibration across the entire pad, making the whole pad an insulator, or a shim. The Wagner EDGE technology is a friction-shaping solution we developed in the lab by using a laser vibrometer. It focuses caliper force in a very direct way to make the brake pads work harder and better. It also eliminates noise by tuning out hot spots within the friction and the rotor. The laser vibrometer basically takes a picture of where the hot spots are located, which leads our development of a custom shape to focus caliper force and eliminate those issues. Our new OE formulations work in conjunction with those technologies to make what was a pretty great brake pad into an even quieter, more efficient product. So it is the three technologies that really work together.

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