Jeff Stauffer, Son of Northwood Founder and Class of 1976, Launches New Marketing Group


Jeff Stauffer is no stranger to the automotive parts business.  With over 39 years of automotive marketing experience and counting, he has decided to open a new automotive marketing services and consulting business.  “I have been blessed to work for some of the industry’s leading manufacturers and iconic brands including Monroe®, Walker®, Moog®, Wagner®, PEAK® , WIX® and Raybestos®,” said Stauffer, “and have enjoyed great success developing and driving marketing strategy and market share growth through integrated sales and brand activation.”

Some of SMG’s major capabilities will include brand & marketing strategy, planning and activation support; new product & brand development; advertising & sales promotion concepts, planning and activation; public relations & events management; digital & social media strategy, content & website development and activation; market research and data management services; and sports marketing, sponsorship assessment and activation.

Jeff has received Northwood’s Automotive Aftermarket Management Education Award, Northwood’s Outstanding Alumni Award, and is a member of the Northwood University Automotive Aftermarket Advisory Board and the University’s Board of Governors.  We asked Jeff a few questions:

Tell me how your Northwood experience has influenced your career and your decision to start Staufman Marketing Group.

My guess is, my Northwood experience was not unlike what most students “should be” experiencing.  Even though a significant amount of my free time was spent in athletics since I was a two-sport athlete (basketball & baseball), I still found/took the time to take advantage of what Northwood has to offer, to get involved in clubs, going to special seminars, internship opportunities, listening to and meeting business leaders/alumni that come to campus... and more. All part of shaping who we are and guiding us into the Northwood afterlife! I honestly did not know what industry or business I was destined for, even as I was going through the senior interviewing process.  But I knew I was more than ready to launch into a business career thanks to all the preparation Northwood provided me. Upon graduation, I took a sales promotion position with Walker Manufacturing Co. in Racine WI, the leading supplier of automotive vehicle exhaust systems, and the rest is history... 39 years later!

What’s important about entrepreneurship? Aside from having a good financial foundation to start your business and the right passion, determination, and salesmanship skills... whatever business you go into, your best chance for success is having a unique/different/innovated product or service that allows you to stand out from the pack and delivers on the interests/needs/desires of your target audience.  And to understand those dynamics, I can’t overemphasize the importance of “data and research” to provide the insights needed to formulate a winning, successful strategy and go-to-market plan.  Entrepreneurship can be tough.  You are the driving force and energy and people need to feel that passion in a positive way.  It’s not always easy, but surround yourself with the best people you can! That is key to any successful business and leadership! Above all... do something where you will HAVE FUN!

As a very active alumnus, what’s the importance of staying involved with the university?

Why wouldn’t you? Unless for some reason you didn’t have a great experience, which is slim to none!  If you haven’t been back to the Northwood in the last 2-3 years...OMG, you won’t believe what it looks like...what it has done to provide new facilities, the new Turf Building and now the Bennett Sports Center renovations, the new DeVos Graduate School... and more to come!  Part of the culture that makes Northwood is the support it gets from alumni.  And yes, whatever financial support you’re able to provide is good, but there are other benefit to “giving back” and staying involved beyond sending providing student internships, hiring graduates, come back to campus and speak to students.  I really enjoy all the updates on how the sports teams are doing on NU Facebook/Twitter... If you’re not getting the Northwood Idea magazine or a member of, you’re missing out on some very inspirational NU Alumni success stories, and other NU happenings around the globe.