Truck Parts and Service Blog | Heavy Duty Trucking, Aftermarket
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Heavy-duty aftermarket professionals have completed the week-long Heavy Duty Leadership (HDL) education conference, held at Northwood University. The annual program, offered by the University of the Aftermarket, was created to develop the business, management and leadership skills of mid-career professionals working in the North American commercial vehicle aftermarket, according to an announcement.
Participants in this year’s HDL class, now in its seventh year, represented a wide range of heavy-duty aftermarket job functions, geographies and experiences. This year’s class includes:
Colter Adkins, TruckPro
Dave Baker, Dorman Products
Michael Crews, Tri-States Automotive Warehouse
Christopher Crippen, Sanel NAPA
Brett Delp, Dorman Products
Tina Geraghty, Velvac Inc
Mengshi Guo, Panasia CVS USA Inc.
Don Jordan, Denso
Travis Kokenes, Mackay & Company
Michael Lieske, TruckPro
John Lurz, HDA Truck Pride
Jason Marath, 6State/TruckPro
John Mays, Accuride Corporation
Jim McManus, Accuride Corporation
Michelle Montgomery, TruckPro
Dan Neil, Commercial Vehicle Group
Clayton Nesvick, TruckPro
Dan Piccoli, Fras-Le North America Inc
Chris Robinson, AXN Heavy Duty
Sherri Short, Dana Incorporated
John Strem, Standard Motor Products
Ed Turnquist, Standard Motor Products
Paul Vollmer, Advance Auto Parts
Keith Woods. Horton Inc.
Crystal Yao, Panasia CVS USA Inc.
The program opened July 8 at the Sloan Family Building for Aftermarket Studies with a keynote presentation from Meritor Aftermarket Vice President Brett Penzkofer. The week also included leadership and industry-focused sessions from faculty drawn from Northwood University’s DeVos Graduate School of Management and leaders in the commercial truck aftermarket.
Heavy Duty Leadership graduates earned 3.5 continuing education units that can be applied toward their Automotive Aftermarket Professional (AAP) or Master Automotive Aftermarket Professional (MAAP) designations. The next Heavy Duty Leadership program will be held in mid-July, 2019.
Bosch has introduced the BAT 135 battery tester with integrated printer, now available in North America. The integrated printer is designed to capture test results for customer records, such as presenting the state of health and state of charge percentage of the batteries to ensure optimal efficiency and usage, according to an announcement.
Using a micro-load test to demonstrate authentic results, the battery tester assesses 6V and 12V batteries from 40 to 2,000 CCA, including AGM, Gel cell, flooded lead-acid, start/stop EFB and Commercial SLI batteries. It also will test 12V and 24V charging systems with a diode/ripple test. Test clamps are included and are detachable for service or replacement.
The following comes from the July 2018 issue of Truck Parts & Service.
Aftermarket distribution is an industry afflicted with sameness.
Most products stocked in a distributor’s warehouse in western Canada can be found in another distribution facility in central Florida. The brake and wheel end repairs being done today in San Diego are the same jobs being completed in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
There are unique needs and products here and there — typically across duty cycles — but on the whole, the parts and service found in the aftermarket channel is overwhelmingly homogeneous. And it is specifically because of these similarities that so many aftermarket distributors eagerly search for ways to be different. Like the general population with a gallon of milk, a commercial truck owner can buy a brake drum just about anywhere in the aftermarket.
For distributors uninterested or unwilling to differentiate themselves through price cuts, exclusivity and uniqueness are best established through customer service.
Nailing customer service is no easy task. Consistency is imperative. A distributor that chooses to hang its hat on customer service must be confident its entire team is capable of providing the level of service it promises its customer base. Within a sales team, this means ensuring a customer receives an identical experience regardless of the employee with whom he is interacting.
A customer request at one facility must be handled identically across all locations, and when an outside salesperson receives a customer order and directs the customer to a nearby facility for pickup, that salesperson needs reassurance his teammates will be as informed and prepared to serve that customer as he was.
Pulling that off requires open lines of communication. From the top down and throughout a distribution business, customer-facing employees must have the training, tools and autonomy to communicate corporate strategies and pertinent customer information at all times.
For distributors eager to streamline their messaging and amp up their customer service, there are several ways communication within a sales team can be enhanced.
Cultivate employee relationships
Like any team, employees work best together when they are familiar with one another.
Distributors focused on customer service as a differentiator should take time to create and foster relationships between their outside and inside salespeople so both groups can seamlessly communicate customer requests and needs. This is especially valuable for outside employees who are reliant on in-store associates to fulfill customer orders taken in the field, but may spend little time directly interacting with those colleagues during the day.
One of the easiest ways to cultivate relationships between a sales team is scheduled on-site meetings. While these meetings can be scheduled specifically for team-building, it is not required. Regular meetings to discuss new products or quarterly sales goals also can double as team-building experiences, so long as all employees are brought together and encouraged to interact and share knowledge, says Ian Coburn, president at GPA Training.
Due to its large footprint across Canada, Fort Garry Industries uses regional rather than national sales meetings as its preferred method for communicating company and product information, says Dave Cannon, senior manager of business development. Cannon says the “sharing of knowledge” at these regional meetings is one of the most overlooked benefits of each event.
“It’s something you really see around the tables at our meetings,” he says. “Once everyone is together, you can get those conversations going where everyone starts sharing what they are doing that’s working for them and enabling them to be more effective.”
But company meetings aren’t only valuable because of their conduciveness for revealing best practices. For large distributors like Fort Garry, on-site meetings also are sometimes the only opportunities employees get the chance to meet and interact face-to-face. Relationships between employees successfully developed over email or phone are wonderful, but it’s no secret that bonds are formed faster through personal interaction.
It’s why Mike Cueto was such a fan of team-building exercises in his prior role at Velocity Vehicle Group (VVG).
“I recommend to any distributor who can [alter] their sales meetings to make sure those meetings are not just product training events,” says Cueto, who since retiring from VVG has founded Heavy Duty Training & Consulting, an aftermarket sales leadership and management firm. “Product training is important, but it shouldn’t be everything. You need more than just product knowledge to be successful.”
When he scheduled regional and corporate sales meetings in his prior role, Cueto says he would always include time within an event itinerary for networking and team-building activities.
The benefits, he says, were obvious. By enabling employees from different departments and locations to spend time together in a non-business setting, they would inevitably form bonds that would remain in place once they returned to their respective duties. The result was a stronger, more engaged team more comfortable communicating best practices and customer information across the entire VVG network.
That additional benefit also has appeared at the GenNext and Commercial Vehicle Solutions Network (CVSN) Distributor Training Expo (DTE), says event founder and Minimizer Director of Marketing Steve Hansen.
Hansen says his initial desire in creating the DTE was rooted in his desire as an aftermarket supplier to be able to train a national sales force of frontline distributor salespeople in a single weekend. After completing the annual event for the third time in April, Hansen says his training goal is definitely being met, but the networking opportunity the DTE is providing also is becoming a huge selling point in attracting distributor attendees.
“I think the number of repeat attendees tells the story,” he says. “Attendees are coming home saying the event is a great value for them and that the networking aspect is a big part of that.”
He adds, “This is a relationship business, and relationships aren’t just about customers with employees.”
Coburn agrees, adding employee relationships also can encourage cooperation and eliminate unnecessary sales calls.
“It’s amazing how many times two salespeople will go out to a fleet and the customer will tell them, ‘Your other guy was just here,’” he says. “They didn’t communicate with each other about where they were going … they could have gone together.”
Use technology where possible
When face-to-face interaction isn’t feasible, distributors also can rely on assorted technologies to connect and strengthen employee bonds.
Video is taking off as a useful communication platform at Six Robblees’, says Sales Manager Kevin Kartman. For almost two years, Kartman says the sales management team at Six Robblees’ has been developing short video messages sent on a regular basis to its 33 outside sales representatives to convey information “that is going to be pertinent to them out in the field.”
Normally between 10 to 15 minutes in length, Kartman says the videos feature general sales guidance as well as new product information from Product Managers Randy Luthe and Randy Fisher. The trio says the videos haven’t replaced other forms of communication but have proved to be a helpful supplement — specifically when it comes to new lines or corporate news.
Luthe says dozens of phone calls have been replaced by a single message everyone can see. Adds Kartman, “It helps us because then everyone is working from the same playbook.”
Cannon says Fort Garry uses webinars to communicate similar training to its sales team. He says on-site training is great when possible, but incredibly time-consuming. Getting one message to everyone can take weeks. Webinars enable the company to train everyone on new tools or processes in an hour or less, regardless of their location.
The number of communication and sales tools now available to aftermarket distributors is growing. The most innovative of these new tools are customer relationship management (CRM) software programs.
Many CRMs are useful in the independent aftermarket as a repository of customer data for all employees. As salespeople interact with customers in the field, they submit their call notes to a CRM platform, which then immediately makes this information available to all other associates with access to the tool. The system works the same way from a location outward, meaning traveling salespeople can access records of a customer’s in-store purchases before entering the customer’s facility as a way to better prepare for a conversation.
With a multitude of CRM providers currently operating in North America, finding the company with the best product for a distributor’s business can take time. Luthe says Six Robblees’ has been evaluating CRM solutions for months, while Cannon says Fort Garry took the CRM plunge a few years ago and implemented sales-i after a long assessment process.
Instead of an off-the-shelf solution, VVG Vice President of Parts Sal Maldonado says his business built its own in-house CRM two years ago when it was unable to find the perfect fit.
“It was important to us that we had something that was clean and easy for our guys to use,” he says. “If they are going to be [using] it every day, we wanted it to be designed for them.”
That focus on functionality is not something to be overlooked. When relying on technology to facilitate employee communication, less is often more.
Maldonado and Cannon both attributed the ease and straightforwardness of the CRM systems they are using as reasons why the systems have been embraced by their employees.
Regarding sales-i, Alex Witcpalek, director of sales, North America, and Dominic Starr, general manager, say the product’s simplicity is by design. sales-i was developed with its users in mind.
“We know the companies who are using our product, and we know their employees are not always tech savvy,” says Witcpalek.
The duo says sales-i features all common customer data recording fields found in the most robust CRM systems, but strips out features and tools unnecessary for most distributor salespeople.
In that place, sales-i interfaces with a distributor’s business management system to display up-to-date sales data that can be used to support any customer interaction.
Starr says the data enables employees to quickly determine: “What are they buying from you? What are they not buying from you? What should they be buying from you?”
Compensating communication and teamwork
Though slightly less common than the communication methods previously mentioned, rewarding employees for cooperation in assisting customers is another way to cultivate buy-in to customer service initiatives.
Cueto says in his prior role he always made a point to publicly recognize and applaud employees when they worked together to address a customer need. He is now advising his clients to do the same. He says these acknowledgements can be done any number of ways — during meetings, conference calls, email blasts — the method is not as important as the message. “I always wanted them to understand how much we appreciated what they did for us,” he says.
Maldonado says the tactic is still in place at VVG today.
Public commendations also can be used as a springboard for quick training opportunities. Cueto says in situations where employee efforts exceed company expectations and protocol, he encourages distributors to allow their employees to introduce their successful personal strategies company wide.
“I think sometimes employees pay better attention to their teammates than someone else because they know if [their teammates] are saying something, then it works. They know the person making the statement is living in their shoes every day,” he says.
Teamwork can be financially beneficial for employees as well. Maldonado says VVG’s commission-based sales structure encourages cooperation “all the way to the bank,” and adds the company’s leasing department also rewards employees with gift cards when they uncover a new lead in the field.
“It doesn’t matter what it amounts to,” he says. “If you pass it along, you are rewarded.”
Six Robblees’ is a believer in public recognition, too. The company uses its regular corporate email blasts and videos to praise employees for outstanding work in the field, while also presenting performance awards, gift cards and other small gifts at its annual sales meeting.
Fisher says every accolade is coveted, which not only generates employee engagement, but also provides Six Robblees’ reassurance that its customers are always receiving the customer service they deserve.
“Just knowing you are respected and appreciated goes a long way,” he says.
Diesel Forward has been named a Honeywell Garrett master distributor for the United States, Canada and Mexico.
With this addition of Garrett to the current line of turbochargers from BorgWarner and Holset, Diesel Forward now offers a full line of light-duty, medium-duty and heavy-duty turbochargers.
According to Houman Kashanipour, chief commercial officer at Diesel Forward, “We continue to partner with the best brands to deliver and support advanced aftermarket OE components to our customers. The addition of Garrett turbocharger line will enable us to better support our customer’s needs with full range of genuine first-fit aftermarket OE products.”
“Not only are we committed to offering the widest product range, we are also dedicated to delivering excellence in technical advice and customer service through our carefully selected distributor network,” adds Tracie Parker, sales director, NA Aftermarket at Honeywell Garrett. “Our network spans the globe, providing expert support and product inventory to meet the needs of customers. Every Honeywell Garrett distributor is rigorously assessed against exhaustive criteria linked to service, technical knowledge and distribution. Diesel Forward is an excellent example of the kind of organization we partner with, and we’re very pleased to add them to our network.”
Denso Products and Services Americas, Inc., an affiliate of Denso Corp., has expanded its PowerEdge diesel aftertreatment line to cover light- and medium-duty vehicles.
Leveraging lessons learned from its successful existing line of diesel particulate filters (DPFs) and diesel oxidation catalysts (DOCs) for heavy-duty Class 8 trucks, Denso states it is bringing proven technology to an expanded customer base.
“We’ve expanded our PowerEdge diesel aftertreatment program and national sales team to support all our valued business partners to allow them to differentiate themselves from their competition,” says Gilbert Ramirez, manager, heavy duty product management at Denso Products and Services Americas. “Their success is our success, so we’ve added more products and customer support to increase their business growth opportunities.”
Denso now offers 13 DPF and DOC parts numbers covering the most popular light- and medium-duty trucks in operation, including the Ford 6.4L, GMC and Chevy trucks powered by the Duramax 6.6L engine, Dodge models powered by the Cummins 6.7L engine, and the Mercedes Sprinter 3.0. An additional four part numbers will be releasing soon, bringing the program total to 17 part numbers by September. All light- and medium-duty PowerEdge DPFs and DOCs come with a warranty of two years or 36,000 miles, the company says.
Denso also has added six new DOC part numbers to its heavy-duty diesel aftermarket product line, expanding applications to cover Mack MP7 trucks and big rigs powered by Cummins ISX and MaxxForce 13 engines. An additional 10 part numbers will be releasing this fall.
Additionally, demonstrating confidence in the quality, reliability and durability of its products, Denso says it has extended its warranty on aftertreatment products for the heavy-duty market to three years with unlimited mileage. All together, PowerEdge aftertreatment products cover more than 90 percent of today’s heavy-duty trucks whose engines meet 2007, 2010 and 2013 model year emissions standards, the company says.
Denso says the PowerEdge aftertreatment line is manufactured with U.S. sourced high-grade stainless steel that increases durability by resisting corrosion, OEM substrates that maximize performance and minimize back pressure, advanced coatings that increase catalyzation, passive regeneration and fuel efficiency, and “exact-fit” design for specific application needs and easy installation.With few part numbers covering a wide range of applications, Denso claims its distribution customers save on shelf space while supplying more fleets and end-users.
Other 2018 program enhancements include gaskets and clamps with each filter. Replacement gaskets and clamps for the heavy-duty market are also sold separately, the company says.
Finally, Denso has strengthened its national aftermarket sales team for the heavy-duty sector by adding three regional sales managers, bringing the total sales force to 11 associates. Denso also has beefed up its larger sales network by adding 60 manufacturer representatives to drive new business opportunities for warehouse distributors of all Denso Commercial & Heavy Duty products.
The company now has two fully staffed departments dedicated to sales, service and support for its customers in the heavy-duty market. One group is focused on OE sales and the other on aftermarket business, the company says. Denso also has strengthened its aftermarket operations by expanding its engineering team and investing in technology and modernization for product development and manufacturing to support customers’ future business growth.
Red Dot Corporation has promoted Nick Janus to president, following his successful tenure as the company’s CFO, general manager of its European operations and leader of its Chinese operations. Janus will be responsible for driving the company’s focus and investment in operational excellence and leading its growth as a global enterprise, according to an announcement.
“Nick’s skilled, steady leadership over the past three years has helped Red Dot flourish through one of its most transformative periods,” says Pat Cavanagh, a member of Red Dot’s board of directors who will continue to serve as its interim CEO. “My fellow board members and I have enormous confidence in his leadership and his commitment to the success of this company, and we’re fortunate to have him in this key role.”
Janus has an extensive track record in corporate finance and has held senior executive roles, in which he was responsible for driving key initiatives at manufacturing companies. Prior to leading Red Dot’s financial activities and operations, he was vice president of finance at C.C. Filson Co., and served in senior finance positions at Philips. He bolstered his industry expertise while working with clients in manufacturing and construction at accounting firm Moss Adams.
“With its storied history, widely recognized product strength and the commitment of its employee-owners, Red Dot is a singular company and I’m proud and honored to lead its improvement and evolution as a global innovator in mobile HVAC,” Janus says. “Our focus is and will continue to be on listening to our customers and doing everything we can to serve as a strong partner, supporting their — and their customers’ — success.”
Haldex has published a white paper looking at the introduction of air disc brakes in the North American commercial vehicle market, and how those products have grown in usage and popularity through the years.
The historical retrospective addresses how air disc brakes were first adopted in commercial transportation in Europe and as acceptance grew there (and rules changed here), the products made their way across the Atlantic to this marketplace. Haldex writes the main driver of air disc brakes into the North American marketplace was the introduction of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) Reduced Stopping Distance mandate earlier this decade.
It was then that Haldex states fleets of all types took “a real interest in moving to air disc brakes, or at least considering it.”
From there, Haldex investigates how customer perception of air disc brakes have changed as acceptance has grown, as well as its belief that ADB adoption will only continue to rise in the coming years. On that last point, Haldex notes five specific reasons why air disc brakes are poised for a breakout:
Price should come down as volume goes up
The true price difference between a fully functional drum brake and the air disc brake will further drive the cost advantages towards the air disc brake
Technical expertise in working on air disc brakes will increase at fleets as well as outside service providers
The fewer parts that are required for air disc brake service (vs. drum brake service) will be widely available
The widely available service parts supplied by Haldex (brake pads and service kits) for air disc brakes are available through the U.S. and Canadian distribution networks – further simplifying the ease of service
To read the new white paper in its entirety, please CLICK HERE.
Michael Callison Jr. has been promoted to chief operating officer at Midwest Wheel Companies, reporting to John Minor, president and CEO.
Callison joined the Midwest Wheel team more than 10 years ago. As COO he will be responsible to execute the company’s vision and strategy. He will work closely with the executive team to ensure continuity and drive growth as the company follows it’s succession plan into the future. He was most recently vice president of product management and vice president of safety and training.
His new responsibilities include overseeing product management and managing all other areas of the business, the company states. Callison also will play a key role in positioning Midwest Wheel for continuous marketplace success.
Callison is the fifth generation of his family to hold a leadership role in Midwest Wheel Companies’ 107-year history. The company was founded in 1911 as a family-owned business. The company continues to lead the industry and, although Midwest Wheel is family owned, their employees now own the future as well. In early 2010 Mike Callison Sr., Michael’s father, and family initiated an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) for all employees, giving the employees the opportunity to partake in the company’s long-term success. With the companies succession planning and experienced executive staff, Midwest Wheel has the experience to lead into the future.
Experienced member’s of the company’s executive staff include Callison, vice president and COO, 10 years of service; Adam Clark, vice president of operations and sales, 10 years of service; Mike Laing, finance and CFO, 22 years of service; Steve McEnany, vice president of marketing and technology, 30 years of service.
Bower heavy-duty bearings by NTN now offer clutch pilot bearings as part of its product offering.
According to Bower, its heavy-duty clutch pilot bearings are engineered to withstand the ever-increasing demands on engines and transmissions in today’s marketplace. For applications with demanding operating conditions, NTN recommends the use of Bower high-temperature bearings. These bearings, which surpass OEM recommended ratings, come equipped with high-temperature grease and seals, ensuring extended bearing life and optimal performance, the company says.
“We have an excellent product to offer the heavy-duty market,” says Melissa Campobasso, product manager, Auto & Heavy-Duty Truck, NTN. “The Bower line of clutch pilot bearings is a natural extension of our product offering to our customer channel as they are a great compliment to our current line.”
Bring up the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in a conversation with someone in the commercial trucking industry and you’ll see a wide variety of responses. Most aren’t great.
It’s not that the trucking industry dislikes the EPA, per se, it’s more that a lot of us feel the organization is flawed. Whether it be in its areas of focus or its rule making, you don’t have to talk about the EPA very long (with anyone, really) before the complaints start coming up. The “I wish it worked this way …” or “Why don’t they do things like this …” responses.
One particular aspect of the organization that earns its fair share of grievances in such a conversation is its enforcement wing. There is a common misconception that exists in pockets of our industry that even though the EPA has developed exhaustive and expansive heavy-duty emission and greenhouse gas regulations, that far too often those rules are not enforced. That yes, you can be fined if you knowingly or unknowingly tampering with tractor’s aftertreatment system, but first they have to catch you.
Well, yeah, about that.
They will catch you.
The EPA announced last week it has accepted guilty pleas from three of five men charged with conspiring to defraud the United States and violate the Clean Air Act. The five men — one the owner of commercial truck service facility, the other a truck fleet and multiple employees from a water and waste transportation company — worked together to “illicitly disable the Rockwater Northeast CMVs’ emissions control devices,” states of the Office of the Inspector General.
What comes next for these men has not been announced, but knowing what we know about EPA fines, they are about to be in dire financial straits. At minimum.
I’ve had the opportunity to listen to EPA enforcement officers describe their work in the past and I can tell you, they don’t take kindly to such brazen disregard for Federal regulations. The officers I’ve met say it isn’t their job to police every service bay and look over every tech’s shoulder. They trust that most everyone is following the rules, and in cases where a fleet, tech or service provider makes an honest mistake, they are fair and understanding in how they address that. Fines are likely reduced or ignored. The goal is education, and knowing the rules.
But … if you are deliberate and intentional in your rule breaking, they will come after you.
That’s what’s happening to these men in Pennsylvania.
So pay attention to what’s going on in your business. Make sure your techs know about the lines they can’t cross. I don’t want to see your name in Trucking’s Rap Sheet in the future.