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Challenge the Status Quo and Grow Your Business with Prestone

Listen as we challenge three common ideas in heavy-duty parts and learn how Prestone coolant can keep your trucks running smoothly this summer.

Episode 321:  In this week’s episode we start by talking about 3 common ideas in heavy-duty parts that need to be challenged. First, how total cost of operation should be considered over purchase price. Second, how salespeople are not usually able to both capture new business and nurture existing business; these take separate skill sets and different personality traits. Third, how experience in automotive does not always prepare you for working in heavy-duty.

Our guest interview is with Colin Dilley, the Vice President of Technology at Prestone who we caught up with at HDA Truck Pride’s Annual Meeting. Colin discusses the challenges of making new coolants compatible with changing truck technology, including electric trucks and 3D printed parts. He also gives some tips of what to look for in a long-lasting coolant that will protect your trucks, especially in the summer heat. 

Listen as we challenge three common ideas in heavy-duty parts, how to grow your business, and learn how Prestone coolant can keep your trucks running smoothly this summer.


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HDA Truck Pride: They’re the heart of the independent parts and service channel. They have 750 parts stores and 450 service centers conveniently located across the US and Canada. Visit HeavyDutyPartsReport.com/HDATruckPride today to find a location near you.

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Transcript of Episode:

Jamie Irvine:

You are listening to The Heavy Duty Parts Report. I’m your host, Jamie Irvine, and this is the place where we have conversations that empower heavy-duty people.

I’d like to take a moment to express my sincere appreciation to the entire team at HDA Truck Pride. We were so happy to be able to attend this year’s annual meeting in Grapevine, Texas, and we were so welcomed at the show. It was great to meet with HDA Truck Pride members with the staff from head office and also with suppliers.

Over the last couple weeks we’ve been doing interviews from that show and today we are going to do our final interview from the HDA Truck Pride annual meeting. So I hope that you’ve enjoyed them and again, just a big special thank you to HDA Truck Pride. So what are we going to talk about in this week’s episode?

Well, in this week’s episode, we are going to talk about three common ideas that heavy-duty parts businesses need to really challenge to be successful. We’re going to review what you need to know about coolant for the upcoming summer, as well as something that you need to really challenge when you’re thinking about coolant.

And we’re going to talk about the importance of not just looking at the symptom but finding the root cause of your problem. This applies both to commercial trucks and trailers, just like it applies to working in a heavy-duty parts business.

Alright, let’s get started. So first of all, I want to talk to you about three of the common things that we come across when we’re consulting with heavy-duty parts, companies that we really think should be challenged.

And I want to talk about these three ideas that I think you need to really take a good hard look at because for a long time we may have done things a certain way, but right now we need to look at doing things differently. We need to challenge that status quo. What three things am I talking about? Well, to start with, this is a subject we’ve talked about on this show many times, purchase price versus total cost of operation.

It is shocking how many people to this day buying parts are still only looking at the purchase price. The reality is the purchase price is the smallest part of the total cost of a given part. It really is the thing that you should be looking at last. Now obviously purchase price has to be in line with competitive standards.

You don’t want to be overpaying when you don’t need to, but you also don’t want to be sacrificing quality and putting yourself into a position where you’re going to have additional downtime, which is going to create all kinds of extra costs that immediately evaporate any cost savings that you might’ve achieved buying a cheaper part.

So that’s something we’ve got to stop that. So anybody listening, especially if you’re selling parts, you’ve got to work with your customers to overcome that proclivity to look at the purchase price.

Okay, next thing I wanted to talk about when you are selling heavy-duty parts, when I talk to sales managers who are looking to recruit salespeople, the first question I ask them is, what does the role entail?

Is this primarily new business development or is the salesperson going to be nurturing existing relationships. Almost without fail, the sales managers reply with, well, it’s going to be a little bit of both. This is a problem. We see this play out with our clients many times and it never works out.

The reality is if you are in a position where you have to build a lot of new business with new customers that you have no existing relationship with, there is a certain personality profile that is really, really good at doing that. They’re highly assertive, sociable, they have high pace and they’re not that detail oriented. They’re driven for results.

Those people are not usually particularly good at nurturing relationships. They’re good at creating relationships and then handing them off to people that are on the other side of the coin, very good at nurturing relationships. There is room for both kinds of salespeople, but to have those personality traits to do both jobs extremely well is almost impossible to find in one human being.

So what we recommend is you have to pair certain salespeople with other salespeople in order to take care of the customer’s needs. Now, this is a problem for a lot of companies because they look at it like, well, I’m just going to have to pay extra labor, extra salary then and I don’t have budget for that.

At the end of the day, it is costing you far more not to organize your sales team around specific roles where you can get salespeople where they’re naturally best and that they will perform an extremely high level.

People who nurture relationships usually have higher levels of sociability than assertiveness. That doesn’t mean they lack the ability to ask for the business. It just means that these types of people, unlike the people who are good at new business development, the people who are good at nurturing relationships put everything through a relationship lens and your customers love these types of people.

These salespeople that are good at nurturing relationships usually struggle to find a level of assertiveness needed to create a lot of net new business. So we got to change the way we think about how we organize our sales teams.

You’re having that problem, come talk to us at the Heavy Duty Consulting Corporation because we have a solution for you. Okay, the last thing I wanted to talk about is this idea that if you have automotive experience, you automatically are going to be able to move into the heavy-duty parts business.

That just isn’t true. How many times have we seen people think that that automotive experience, that we know how to sell parts, we know how to sell automotive parts. We’ve done this very successfully, and that means that we’re going to be able to just walk right into the commercial truck business and we’re going to be able to sell parts there as well. And that isn’t necessarily always true. Why?

There’s a big difference between the automotive world where a lot of these vehicles are made in high volume, where parts data is readily available versus a heavy-duty parts business where everything is specked even from the original manufacturer where you have to have a lot of knowledge about how to identify parts.

You can’t just go in and expect to get all of the data needed to be successful and it’s just not available. And so you have to build up that parts knowledge.

And so that’s just one area where you get into trouble when you think that you can apply an automotive mindset to a heavy-duty business. And of course there are many, many more. So these are some of the ideas.

So when you’ve heard me in the past and when you hear me in the future talk about challenging the status quo, these are the kinds of things that I see over and over and over again that I really think we need to as an industry kind of push back on and say, no, there is a better way to do these things.

Okay, so now we’re going to take a quick break and when we get back from the break, we’re going to talk about the old ideas that persist around coolant and what you need to know to get ready for this summer. We’ll be right back.

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We’re back from our break and before we introduce our featured guests, I just wanted to mention that we are looking for forward-thinking parts distributors who would like to join a special beta program exclusively for the listeners of The Heavy Duty Parts Report.

If you want to provide your customers with unparalleled parts visibility and reduce the number of phone calls your counter has to field every single day, then I want you to go to heavydutypartsreport.com/jamie. That’s heavydutypartsreport.com/jamie. This will take you to my calendar.

You can book a meeting with me and talk about what it will take to get enrolled in this very special exclusive beta program. If you want to push the limits of what we can do, if you want to challenge the status quo of the way a heavy-duty parts business operates, then you’ve got to join this program.

Okay, so as I mentioned at the beginning of the episode while I was attending HDA Truck Pride’s annual meeting in Grapevine, Texas back in April, I got the chance to sit down with some members with some of their corporate head office staff as well as a supplier, and that supplier is our featured guest today.

So listen in to my interview with Colin Dilly from Prestone, and in this interview we discuss coolant and some old ideas that need to be challenged and what you need to know to prepare for summer.

We’re in Grapevine, Texas at HDA Truck Pride’s annual meeting for 2024 HDA Truck Pride brings together over 140 members of heavy duty parts and service companies. They have over 700 parts locations across the US and Canada as well as now over 500 repair shops.

This is a great event that I look forward to each and every year because it gives us the opportunity to talk about very specific things and help these independent business owners to advance their business. And today I am very happy to have Colin Dilley back on The Heavy Duty Parts Report. Glad to have you here.

Colin Dilley:

Good to be back.

Jamie Irvine:

Yeah, so Colin is the Vice President of Technology at Prestone, and if you’ve listened to a couple of the interviews that we’ve done with him in the past, we’ll include some links in the show notes for those.

I’m always impressed with his level of knowledge of his specific product category and so Colin, I wanted to talk to you because when we come together at these shows, it gives us this great opportunity to impart knowledge to the people who are on the front lines, the people who are dealing with the fleets, the owner operators, the repair shops, and the knowledge that we can impart is really valuable.

It helps them to make their customers more successful and the trucking industry has to succeed. That is so important. So as a supplier to an HDA Truck Pride group, what would you say the biggest benefit the members get when they come to one of these shows and you and your other counterparts are here to impart that knowledge? What’s the benefit that they get?

Colin Dilley:

Really the benefit comes from the knowledge to make the best decisions on what to do with their enhanced buying power that they get through being members.

So we are there to help them understand what’s going on in the industry, what’s going to come in in the future to their industry and what their customers can most benefit from. We want to make those suppliers, the experts so when their customers come to them, they can give them their knowledge and appear to be the experts we’re there to back them up.

Jamie Irvine:

And you kind of bring up a good point because there’s the product side, which is very important, but there’s also that business development side where you need to be able to present and educate the end users.

If you’re in the parts and service side of the business, to your point, there’s so much change in the industry and how do you adapt to that change and you make a poor decision and it could have major implications to a fleet that could really cost them a lot.

Colin Dilley:

That’s very, very true. We work with Ford, GM, Toyota, Cummins, all the big guys. So we are working with our engineers on a daily, weekly basis to see what’s coming.

So we’re able to talk to people when they come to the booth or in our one-on-ones and explain what the future is, how our coolants and our thermal management fluids are going to meet the needs that are coming up, how they’re backward compatible.

We’re really making them an expert so they can go to their customers and say, no, you don’t need this. You need this. It’s going to help you. It’s going to help you business. That knowledge is going to equal profit, it’s going to equal knowledge, it’s going to equal a better business and a better service to their customers.

Jamie Irvine:

So let’s talk a little bit about what is coming in the future. So give us some insight into what we should expect.

Colin Dilley:

So it’s a great time for that question. If you look at the news, you’re seeing electric vehicles and fuel cell vehicles. They’re everywhere. And we’re working with the light duty, medium duty and we’re working with Cummins right now.

In fact, we just one of the first to receive the Cummins new electric vehicle certification on our new fluids. They’re also looking at fuel cells and that’s a whole different story. We’re looking at low conductive fluids. We just hired a team last year, seven PhD scientists.

So we now have a team of 30 in our R&D team looking at thermal management fluids, antifreeze, colons across the full range of vehicles that are using them. So we’re letting our members here know what’s coming in the future. EV may or may not come in the future, we’ll see. But it’s certainly making a big dent in what everybody’s working on right now.

Jamie Irvine:

And I see not only are the vehicles themselves becoming more complex, the ICE vehicles, but then when you look to a future where you might have two or three different types of power for vehicles, if you’re selling parts, if you’re providing service, you’re going to have to be an expert across all of these.

How important is it going to be? I guess maybe when I look at it, I actually see it’s going to become even more important to be a member of this group. If you’re an independent business owner, how are you possibly going to keep up and be an expert on all of that?

Colin Dilley:

That is such a good point because you have to be looking 10, 15 years into the future. Engines today have things like 3D printed parts in them. Old coolants no longer work with those parts. They’re not compatible.

You have to be looking to the future and when you’re making future fluids, you have to make sure that those fluids are always say reverse compatible with everything that’s gone behind them. So we’re able to tell them what to use, what’s changing, what’s the best way to go forward and somewhat cut through the BS of this color, that color and those things that are confusing to the customer.

Jamie Irvine:

And some of those old ideas that still exist, because of the complexity of trucks today, what would you say is the way that someone should go through helping a fleet make a coolant decision? How has that changed maybe from 15, 20 years ago?

Colin Dilley:

The big change is a very simple thing. It’s the hose clamp on the hose. 15 years ago, the leakage in the cooling systems was so much a gallon or two a month. So everyone would be topping up, topping up. When you’re topping up, you’re putting in new inhibitors, preventing corrosion. They fixed the hose clamps that were coming loose in the vibration.

Now they’re not topping up so much. So suddenly those coolants that were there lasting a hundred thousand miles are going to go a hundred thousand miles plus in the vehicle. They’re going to become neglected. They’re going to lose their power to protect the engine against corrosion, especially cavitation corrosion.

We’re trying to help people understand they have to go to the new technology, the oat technology, the phosphate oat technology, the core guard technology, all those technologies that can eliminate corrosion for up to a million miles.

Jamie Irvine:

Oh, okay. Okay. So that topping up that we used to do actually kept the coolant at a higher level.

Colin Dilley:

Yes, it kept the coolant good. It kept the coolant within enough inhibitors so the cooling system wouldn’t corrode.

Jamie Irvine:

Right, so we fixed one problem, but then we created another over here.

Colin Dilley:

We created another problem.

Jamie Irvine:

When it comes to, when I’m thinking about how to approach a fleet, I always want, and I encourage anyone who’s in parts and service to always approach it from the concept of how do we lower their total cost of operation, not focusing on the purchase price on the products, as much as focusing on how does that product perform. So how do you support these members and help them to communicate that message?

Colin Dilley:

So every member I’ve spoken to in our one-on-one so far, I’ve offered that if you have a customer that comes in, he’s not sure what he has, he’s not sure how good the coolant is, what age it is, send it to us at our Prestone technology center in Danbury, Connecticut. We’ll analyze that and let them know what it is. There’s a problem in the industry that people come in and say, I’ve got red coolant, I want red coolant to go back in it.

There are so many different red coolants. I want yellow coolant, I want yellow coolant come back. They’ve got to understand some of the coolant technologies and we’re helping them understand that and take some of the confusion away. Color is not important. The type of coolant is important.

Jamie Irvine:

The type of coolant. And are you seeing that there is a need to also match the type of coolant to the vocation?

Colin Dilley:


Jamie Irvine:

Explain more.

Colin Dilley:

It depends on what you off-road, on road, what kind of equipment that you are using. We want to make sure that people stay with the approved coolants so that they never end up in a situation where they may not well, they may lose their warranty coverage. Warranties are becoming an issue.

We’re seeing more and more warranties being voided because the wrong coolant is being used. That’s why we go out and we get the Cummins certifications, the Detroit Diesel certifications. We’re always working on those. So if your equipment is calling for a nitrite free organic acid technology, make sure you’ve got a nitrite free organic technology.

Detroit Diesel has been very adamant, don’t use nitrates, and it’s not because the nitrate coolant is bad of the nitrate coolant. When that nitrogen nitrite is gone, as soon as it goes, it starts corroding on the wet sleeve liners. So you’ve got to understand it.

And when you’ve got a long haul truck going and it’s on the road for a week at a time, if you’ve hit that point and you’ve got a nitrite to coolant and it loses it, you’re going to suddenly get massive corrosion in the wet sleeve liners. And so follow your maintenance schedules, whatever you’re using, follow your maintenance schedules.

Jamie Irvine:

Right. So summer is right around the corner. Things are going to heat up. What should we be talking to our customers about as we approach the summertime?

Colin Dilley:

Summer is when problems really start to show, and we call it antifreeze coolant, and everybody’s worried about it freezing, but really heat is the enemy of the engine and you two things you’ve got to make sure are correct. One, the dilution of the coolant. You want that 50/50 even mix to get a full range of anti-boil protection and you have to make sure that you are topped up.

Topping up is incredibly important in the summer. If you don’t, what you end up is air pockets in the cooling system where you have an air pocket in the cooling system, you’ve obviously got no protection to that part and that’s where corrosion can start. So top off and make sure your concentrate is exactly what it should be 50/50.

Jamie Irvine:

Okay. So we’ve talked about a number of things. What’s one thing you want people to remember from our conversation today?

Colin Dilley:

I would say the one thing is, as you mentioned, how many people there are. I think there’s just under 700 people walking around this exhibition, which means there’s 700 experts here. Talk, compare. Don’t just go with the person, talk to other people around. I encourage people to talk to all the coolants providers, get the information, understand what’s going on, see the pros and cons, listen to everybody.

We’re very confident in our technology, we’re very confident in what Prestone can offer. So we’re not scared to say, hey, talk to our competitors and do that for everything you might be buying. It doesn’t matter if it’s oil, parts, whatever it is, get as much knowledge as you can. And as I said, that knowledge is going to make your enhanced buying power worth something.

Jamie Irvine:

You’ve been listening to The Heavy Duty Parts Report. I’m your host, Jamie Irvine, and we’ve been speaking with Colin Dilley, the Vice President of Technology at Prestone. If you’d like to learn more about their products, go to prestone.com. Links are in the show notes. And Colin, when we’re at these shows, I know how busy it is. So thank you so much for taking the time.

Colin Dilley:

It was my pleasure. Thanks Jamie.

Jamie Irvine:

It was great to talk to Colin Dilley again and have him back on the show. Colin is a wealth of knowledge and he is always so enjoyable to talk to, so I hope you took something from his interview. It’s time for That’s Not Heavy Duty.

In this week’s segment, what I want to talk about is that it’s not heavy duty to assume that the symptom is the problem. Listen into @renegaderacing talk about the mistake a lot of people make when coolant is pressurizing the system.

Renegade Racing:

Alright, so we’re going to try and diagnose what’s going on with it. Number one, alright, which everybody thinks whenever you’ve got something going like that, coolant pressurizing the system, you’re thinking a, it’s pushing combustion pressure in there, et cetera. That’s not necessarily the truth.

Alright, nine times out of 10, that isn’t the truth. Alright, first thing we want to check is the air compressor.

Alright, so all bigger trucks, semis and stuff like that, they have a gear driven air compressor on them and it runs coolant through it to cool the compressor. When the head blows on these things, sometimes the head on the air compressor, it’ll start pumping air into the cooling jacket. Alright, so the first thing that we’re going to do is we’re going to bypass the air compressor.

And how we’re going to do that is this is a coolant line right here and this is a coolant line right here. So we’re going to take both these lines off and put a splicer in it and run it in together. So it’s just pushing the coolant right back through the system.

Jamie Irvine:

Now that’s just a little clip of the entire video. If you want to watch the entire video, go over to heavydutypartsreport.com. Go to the show notes of this episode and in the show notes we’ve got a link to the entire video and I’d like to hear from you.

Do you agree with the way that he diagnosed this problem? You can let us know by commenting on the posts that we put up on LinkedIn or YouTube and you can always reach out to us by going to heavy duty parts report.com. We’d love to hear from you.

So whether or not you agree with Renegade Racing and the way that he diagnosed this specific problem, I think you will agree with me that he’s going down the right road by not looking at the symptom and really doing a root cause analysis and trying to figure out what’s actually causing this problem.

Whether you’re fixing a commercial truck or trailer or you’re working in a heavy-duty parts business, figuring out what the root causes of the problems are is the heavy-duty way. It’s the only way to permanently solve problems, and it’s the only way to maximize your overall performance and results.

I actually kind of think this also has an application in life. How many times have we experienced a problem personally and we work at it, we work at it, and we don’t seem to ever be able to solve it? Well, that’s because we might be working at the wrong thing.

So the heavy-duty way is to stop, take the time to figure out what’s actually causing the problem and then fix that to the best of our ability. That is being heavy-duty. Thank you so much for listening to this week’s episode. I really appreciate your ongoing support of The Heavy Duty Parts Report.

And if you haven’t already, why don’t you go over to our website, heavydutypartsreport.com, hit that follow button and sign up to our weekly email. We send out one email a week so you never miss out on our content. We don’t spam you with anything else. Just that one weekly email.

And if you like listening to the podcast on your podcast player of choice, hit the follow button for free. If it gives you the option, a five star rating and a great review from you I’ve heard will help us with reach. In addition to that, if you watch the video version on YouTube, make sure you hit the subscribe button so that you don’t miss out on our content.

Once again, thank you so much for listening to our show and we really appreciate your ongoing support. As always, I want to encourage you to Be Heavy Duty. We’ll talk to you soon.

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