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Podcast

Empowering Repair Shops – An HDAW Live Interview

Learn how Alliant Power is empowering repair shops in the medium and heavy-duty industry.

Episode 151: What happens when a repair shop has to shop around to find parts, and what solution is out there to make this process easier? With supply chain issues causing parts shortages, this is an important subject.

We are at the Heavy-Duty Aftermarket Week in Grapevine, Texas. Our guest today is Nate Breunig, the Director of Sales and Marketing at Alliant Power a Diesel Forward brand. 

Nate Breunig Headshot, and Alliant Power logo. In this episode, learn how Alliant Power is empowering repair shops in the medium and heavy-duty industry.

Guest Website: DieselForward.com/alliant-power

Watch the Video Version

Disclaimer: This content and description may contain affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, The Heavy-Duty Parts Report may receive a small commission.

Sponsors of this Episode:

  1. Having issues with your commercial equipment? You need ATA’s Technology & Maintenance Council (TMC). Check out TMC at tmc.trucking.org  
  2. Want to look up parts but don’t have a part number or the VIN? Download Diesel Parts for free on Desktop or on your Apple or Android device.
  3. Looking for high-quality fuel injection for heavy-duty applications? Visit AMBACInternational.com/Aftermarket

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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 show where you get expert advice about heavy-duty parts that keeps trucks and trailers on the road longer while lowering cost-per-mile.

Tyler Robertson:

Hello everyone. We are here at Heavy-Duty Aftermarket Week in Grapevine, Texas. Normally Jamie Irvine is your host. This is his podcast show, but unfortunately due to COVID restrictions and everything going on coming into Canada and quarantines, I’m your host. So I’m Tyler Robertson. I’ve actually been on the show several times. So I’m your guest host for these next couple episodes and I’m really looking forward to it. We’re actually, I know you can’t see it here if you’re not on the YouTube portion or the video portion, but we are actually on the trade floor in this booth at HDAW. It’s been a great thing going on here. So I’m super excited to do this. And we brought a guest in here today. So I have Nate who is the Director of Sales and Marketing at Alliant Power, a Diesel Forward brand. So Nate, is this your first podcast and by the way, welcome to the show.

Nate Breunig:

Well Tyler, thanks for having me on today. And yes, this is my first podcast. So different doing in front of a show right now where we got all the background noise.

Tyler Robertson:

You know what nothing like doing your first one with a bunch of people and windows. This is a pretty cool setup. So I’m really excited about this. And by the way, I’ve always been kind of confused with the whole Alliant brand Diesel Forward thing. It sounds like you guys are kind of clarifying that message a little bit too on Alliant brand. Yeah. You know, Alliant brand. Right?

Nate Breunig:

So to kind of clarify on that, Tyler Diesel Forward is the actual company where Alliant power is a brand. It’s a brand of products, started out mainly for light duty, but we’re now branched into medium and heavy duty. And of course, bringing the other OE brands. When you think of Bosch, Delhi, Borg, Warner, Garrett, all those different names that are associated with the OE aftermarket. That’s what Alliant power is bringing together in creating essentially a program for independent repair shops that are involved in medium and heavy-duty repair.

Tyler Robertson:

Yeah. And you know, I’ve had your CEO on my podcast before, and we’ve worked with you guys here, you’re strategic partners with my company, Diesel Laptops. And I know you work with Jamie as well. So I’m actually really excited too with the joint announcement we have about the Annual Expo coming out. So that’s gonna be a great thing, but let’s just dive into this here. So let’s just start here. You know, you guys do a lot of this with fixing trucks and procuring parts for people and everything. Let’s just walk through the process. What happens when a repair shop has to shop around for parts? What’s that like?

Nate Breunig:

Yeah. I mean, it’s interesting you bring that up, Tyler, because even talking with some of the repair shops that are attending the show here, sourcing of parts has been a hot topic, especially over the past couple years with some of the supply chain issues that are out there and everything. And you know, it’s common sense once you start shopping around for parts every time that you’re not every minute you’re not working on that truck, you’re not making money. You’re spending money at that point when you got somebody going out there looking to source parts and you know, it takes a shop off their game too. I mean, you know, if normal channels, they can’t get it through there. Now it’s gonna that’s all that time that goes into having to source those parts and everything. That’s adding up on the bill.

Tyler Robertson:

So tell me if you agree with this, I was just talking to someone yesterday at the show here, and I’m like, man, how long does it take your guys to find parts? He goes funny, you should say that. He goes about a year ago, we did a study and he has a couple locations, a bunch of techs, a bunch of shops, right. And my guys are good. Right? He goes, these are not amateur parts guys. These are guys that know it. I mean, they’re texting while they’re on the phone or their parts guys trying to find parts and what not. He goes, the average time it took was 37 minutes from when the technician asked for a part until my guy said, I found it and I got one on order. Does that sound right to you

Nate Breunig:

Actually, I’ve heard it take even longer depending upon the job that comes in the shop. That’s- 37 minutes is pretty quick. I know there’s obviously when they can have everything goes right for ’em, it’s even quicker than that. But you know, that 37 minutes, yeah, it’s about right. But each shop has been different. I’ve talked with some shops that are spending hours looking for parts. And of course, you know, when you start measuring that and you think about that, if it’s $125 an hour, I mean, man, if you’re spending all day doing it’s, you know, that’s up to a thousand dollars a day.

Tyler Robertson:

So let’s talk about what it costs on average, right? Like how would you describe, I mean, because you have, I mean, you guys got two things, right? You got the, the technician doing who knows what for those 37 minutes or an hour. Yeah. Right. That’s one piece equation. And you got your parts guy that you’re paying money to, to go try to find those parts.

Nate Breunig:

Yeah. I mean, it all comes down to what the hourly rate is there and how much time they’re putting into it. But you know, it’s not even, that’s just the measured cost. You know the other cost that we can’t measure is, is that customer gonna come back to us again. Because you know, the longer that that truck is in the shop that starts to hurt the shop’s credibility and everything too. Yeah. And you know, the longer it takes to get a job done it ultimately comes down to customers decision of whether they’re gonna bring that truck back again.

Tyler Robertson:

And it’s a timing game, right? Like that technician starts working on it at like one in the afternoon. And by 2 or 2:30 he’s figured out what it is. Yeah. And then he’s gotta go get the parts, gotta find it. And then it still has to get delivered. And then it’s like that truck’s not leaving that day. Yeah. Like you just, now you’re in the day at two or three or four.

Nate Breunig:

And of course a reputable shop, you’ve got trucks that are now coming in and they’re waiting, you know, you want be able to turn those trucks around fast as you can get ’em in and out the door. And that’s how we grow.

Tyler Robertson:

So I completely agree. So, you know, the Alliant brand provides air, fuel, aftertreatment parts to repair shops, who service medium and heavy-duty trucks. Like we get that. Why is getting access to parts a hard problem for repair shops to solve? Like it’s not easy. Right? There’s a lot of little variables here and there. Can you talk about some of the challenges that they’re seeing?

Nate Breunig:

Yeah. I mean when I’ve talked with some of the independent repairs out there, I mean they’ll have dozens of vendors out there. It’s like, okay, I get my turbo-chargers over here and I’m calling the OE and getting injectors over here. Oh, I get my engine kits over here. You know, why not narrow that down and have one solution. And that’s what Alliant Power is trying to solve for the independent repair network out there is to be able to have, you know, turbo chargers, fuel injection, engine component, starters, alternators, filtration, all in one and packaged underneath a specific engine application out there. So that’s what we’re trying to head with all this – it’d be a one stop shop.

Tyler Robertson:

So I was talking to a company again, you know, we’re at the tradeshow, we’re talking about parts, right. And we’re talking supply chain here a little bit too in that regard. And they were saying, so they manufacture overhaul kits and they were saying, what they’ve seen now is people hoarding, overhaul kits, right? Like they know they normally sell five a year. They’re like, I’m buying 30. Right. Like it feels like toilet paper all over again. Yeah. Are you seeing that at all in some of your customers that are just trying to make sure they have parts on the shelf?

Nate Breunig:

Absolutely. Absolutely. You know, not so much on the medium and heavy-duty side of it, but we’re also involved in the light duty diesel pickup truck and 502 injectors for GM applications and everything like that. Those come in and it’s a race to the finish line to see who can take ’em. So we do on occasion, you know, we’ve also been, we understand we got a bunch of shops out there, so we do have to limit sometimes, but fortunately on the medium and heavy-duty side, we’re not seeing it quite as much as the diesel pickups.

Tyler Robertson:

Whoever thought in our industry, we’d be talking like manual allocation of critical components. I know it’s an insane time. So yeah, it is. You know, so with that said, we’re gonna take a quick break here for a sponsor’s commercial. So we’ll be right back.

Jamie Irvine:

Having issues with your commercial equipment? You need ATS Technology and Maintenance Council also known as TMC. TMC develops recommended practices, addressing the most pressing technology and maintenance issues affecting commercial vehicle fleets. You can join TMC for just pennies a day. And when you do, you’ll get access to thousands of pages of technical information and you can attend events like the upcoming 2022 Annual Meeting and Exhibition, March 7th – 10th in Orlando, Florida. For more information, check out TMC at TMCtrucking.org. Don’t have a heavy-duty part number and need to look up a part? Go to parts.diesellaptops.com or download the app on Apple or Android to create your free account. Looking for high-quality fuel injection for heavy-duty applications. Having one supplier for fuel injection allows you to better serve customers by providing them with a complete line, which increases your sales and profitability. Learn more at ambacinternational.com/aftermarket.

Tyler Robertson:

So we’re back from the break. So thank you again to our sponsor. And we’ve been talking here with Nate with Alliant Power, and parts and procurement and all these things. So let’s just talk about more about your company here. Alliant Power is a program for repair shops, but what are the main reasons repair shops to consider buying air, fuel and aftertreatment parts from Alliant Power versus potentially where they’ve been sourcing them from and those types of situations?

Nate Breunig:

Sure. Yeah. Well, first and foremost, I mean the product that these customers are gonna have access to it’s original equipment product. A lot of folks out there think that, well I need to go back to Navistar to get a part for a DT 466 or what not. No, this is the fuel system manufacturers that are OE out there, we deal directly with them. Same thing with the turbo charger and engine component. This is all OE product. It just doesn’t have what people think of the OE name on the box.

Tyler Robertson:

So, so I’m gonna educate everyone a little bit here because I think most people don’t realize this. I worked at International dealer, I worked at a Freightliner dealer. Like I know dealers, right. I always assumed when I worked there that, oh, I have a box with an International part number so International makes this injector. And I think most customers think that’s the case, but truck manufacturers, engine manufacturers actually make very little of their actual own components.

Nate Breunig:

Yeah. They’re not fuel system manufacturers. Like, you know, the fuel system manufacturers that we carry out there, the names like Bosch Delphi, Pure Power Technologies, are all the names that we’re putting in our box and getting out the door to these customers and everything.

Tyler Robertson:

Yeah. So I think that’s interesting thing because a lot of people are like I only buy OE parts. Yeah. And you’re like, well this, this is OE. That Navistar number or if it’s Bosch or whose it is, but I can sell you the actual Bosch number as well. Yeah. And by the way, it’s gonna cost you less because now there’s not as many middle men involved in this whole equation, because guess what International, for putting that C91 at the end of their part number, there’s a markup involved in that whole process.

Nate Breunig:

Yes, absolutely.

Tyler Robertson:

So if someone’s listening to this and they’re a repair shop or they’re a parts distributor and they’re like, man, I didn’t realize I could buy genuine OEM parts, injectors, turbos, all these things directly from the manufacturer. How would someone get ahold of you? Because that’s exactly what you guys are providing to customers in this regard?

Nate Breunig:

I mean going to visit our website, you know, taking a look at – there’s two areas of this. We have a dealer network out there with roughly 500 dealers across the United States and Canada, that have access to these components. So if it’s somebody that’s looking to just have that local source and be able to get in touch, they can contact one of our dealers. And that’s why visiting Alliant Power.com and going to our dealer locator. If they’re thinking about becoming a dealer, definitely get in touch with us. You can write on our webpage, you can call us, they can also email, there’s inquiries that they can send us if they’re seriously thinking about wanting to become a part of the Alliant Power network.

Tyler Robertson:

So if they’re a dealer, they have to like start stocking stuff and doing that type of thing. Or is that minimal or how much commitments on their part?

Nate Breunig:

Really right now there’s no commitment. I mean, obviously the biggest things that we look for when we want to advertise someone, put them on our dealer locator, number one is to have the OE diagnostic tools and also have to be trained in those or engine applications. We wanna make sure that when we’re marketing to the vehicle owners out there and trying to bring business to the network that our network members are ready to be able to take care of that customer.

Tyler Robertson:

Yeah. I mean, from your side that’s always the hard part because now someone else is selling your brand. Yeah. Saying things about your brand. I can say at Diesel Laptops, we struggled with that. Right. Because people wanna sell our product and they oversell it or undersell it. Actually, I don’t mind them underselling it, but you know those things happen. What about warranty? Like your product do you give the same warranty that they get with OEs or is it slightly different or how does that work?

Nate Breunig:

Yeah, depending upon the application and product line. I mean the Alliant Power, like on our light duty side, we have a two year warranty that’s out there, unlimited mileage, but typically we stick right around the standards of one year warranty. That’s where it’s gonna be the lowest part is the one year warranty and of course unlimited mileage on those particular parts.

Tyler Robertson:

All right, so sounds good. And let’s go back to the whole thing with the joint expo. So you guys historically have done one or two expos per year virtually. I think you guys started that kind of the same time we did, COVID happened and everything. How have those gone for you guys as a company, have people understood what those are and have people enjoyed the content and those types of things?

Nate Breunig:

Yeah. I mean, it’s definitely a different concept. You know, one of the best things that an attendee you could get out of that show is coming to see some of the different speakers, you know, we’ve had representatives from Bosch, representatives from Delphi, obviously we’ve had Diesel Laptops on there. There’s good information, whether you’re a repair shop fleet, even if you’re a diesel enthusiast or someone thinking about getting into the diesel industry. I try to tell the technical colleges, Hey, get your diesel students in this so they can see a little bit more about what our industry is all about and everything like that. And the feedback we’ve gotten from that is it’s very informative, it’s better coming to places like this, but hey, the virtual shows work too as well.

Tyler Robertson:

Yeah. So I mean, I love shows like this, but obviously like this show’s particularly it’s not open to the public. Right. You have to be, we have to be members and those types of things. Obviously I know what it costs for us to have a booth here. I can imagine what it costs for you guys to have a booth here. They’re expensive and I think the great thing about the virtual thing is they’re free. We don’t charge anybody anything. We do charge the vendors to be there. And I know we’re donating all the profits to a charity to help new diesel technicians get into the industry. So I’m really excited about that whole thing. It’s called the Diesel Repair Expo for people that are asking. I know it’s all over the Alliant Power Diesel Forward website, it’s all over Diesel Laptops. I’m convinced we’re gonna get 10,000 people to show up at this thing this year. So I think it’s gonna be a big thing. And I know Jamie loves working with you guys. I know we love working with you guys. So it’s been a great thing. So with all that said is there one thing, what is the one thing you’d want people to remember about Alliant Power’s medium/ heavy-duty program. One thing they need to walk away from?

Nate Breunig:

Well, I’d say OE, but one thing I also want the people know is that, Hey, we’re in the same business that they’re in too. I mean, we work on trucks as well. That’s one of the best benefits of dealing with our Alliant Power staff member is that we have a shop in Madison, Wisconsin in Colorado and also in New Mexico. We see the same things that our customers see out there. And we’re not only just about parts. We’re also a resource too. And a partner.

Tyler Robertson:

Yeah. Hey, I know we’ve actually referred OEM dealers to you guys who then buy your products because they can buy cheaper than they came from their own OEM. Plus they have access to all make stuff, right? They wanna work on other brands and other things. So absolutely anyone listening to this, I’ll just reiterate. If you are selling and working on fuel injection components and, and related turbos, talk to these guys at Alliant Power, I guarantee you you’ll find new revenue streams in your business. You’ll find better ways to take care of customers. You’ll improve your customers downtime and help minimize it. They are a tremendous company to work with. I’ve been to their location up in Madison. It’s a class operation, bunch of great people up there. So with all that, just make sure you say hi to HK for me. I don’t want to feel left out of any of these things. If he was here, I’d try to make him even get on the air with us, but it’s okay. So with all that said, you’ve been listening to The Heavy-Duty Parts Report. I’m your guest host Tyler Robertson. And we’ve been speaking with Nate, the Director of Sales and Marketing at Alliant Power, a Diesel Forward brand. Nate, thank you very much for coming on the show.

To learn more about Alliant Power, go to dieselforward.com/alliant-power.

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