00:00 00:00

Podcast

Gearing Up for Safe Fall and Winter Driving

A look at three main areas when it comes to safe fall and winter driving, and how to make sure you’re prepared for the coming cold.

Episode 284: Are you prepared for the unexpected challenges winter driving brings? This episode covers everything from innovative battery tech to the importance of wiper blade maintenance and traction control. Mike Phillips from C8 Energy introduces us to an impressive supercapacitor developed by Skeleton Technologies. This product, which stores energy more reliably and at a higher level than others on the market, will be a game-changer for commercial equipment operators dealing with dead batteries.

The importance of visibility is clear when you’re behind the wheel, especially during the winter months. That’s why we’re bringing you an in-depth conversation with Raj Chawla, CEO and Founder of ClearPlus. He shares expert advice on selecting the best wiper blades for heavy-duty applications and maintaining your fleet’s visibility.

Finally, Tony Tryon from Peerless Industrial Group uncovers the essentials of traction control and tire chains. Not all tire chains are created equal, and Tony will help you understand how to choose the right chains for the job.

A look at three main areas when it comes to safe fall and winter driving, and how to make sure you’re prepared for the coming cold.

Links

Sponsors of this Episode 

FinditParts: Are you looking to purchase heavy-duty parts and get your commercial vehicle repaired? Get access to the largest source for heavy-duty truck and trailer parts in the United States and Canada. Buy your parts from FinditParts

Visit FinditParts.com/100days Use coupon code HDPR5 for 5 additional entries to win big.

SAMPA: Looking for suspension, steering, and 5th wheel parts? Buy now from SAMPA.com

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 commission. 

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.

The official start of autumn is only a few days away, and here in North America we all know what comes after autumn. It’s winter and that means having to drive on icy roads and driving in some pretty tough weather conditions.

There’s some sobering statistics from the NHTSA each year. In the United States alone, there is 1.23 million weather related accidents, and this sadly has led to over 5,000 fatalities per year. Preparing for winter is truly a life and death task for fleets and owner operators this time of year. And so we think at The Heavy Duty Parts Report, this is such an important subject.

We wanted to dedicate an entire episode to getting ready for driving in those winter conditions. Now, if you’re a fleet or owner operator, you got to think about driving in those conditions. If you work in the parts industry, you have to think about supplying your customers with the parts that they need.

And so we’ve got three guests in today’s episode that all sell products that should be considered when you are preparing for winter driving. That’s going to make your truck safer if you’re an owner operator or a fleet, and it’s going to be the right kinds of products you need to promote if you are in the parts business selling to repair shops, fleets, and owner operators, at the end of the day, we just want people on the road to be safe. So let’s get started talking about getting ready for winter driving.

No one likes waking up to a dead battery on a frigid winter morning. Put that key in, turn it and you don’t even hear a click. Now this is inconvenient if it’s your own personal vehicle, but if you’re a fleet or an owner operator and you’re operating this equipment and this equipment is literally what you rely on to make your livelihood, it is a very costly problem.

When you can’t get the vehicle started, you have unplanned downtime, which is costly and you might miss deliveries or you might not be able to get the job done that you were going to use that piece of equipment to do and that can be really, really costly.

So I spoke with Mike Phillips, the VP of Sales at C8 Energy, about an innovative solution to the problem of not being able to start a piece of commercial equipment because of a dead battery. Listening to my conversation with Mike Phillips, VP of Sales at C8 Energy,

Mike Phillips:

The problem was is how do you power your vehicle while you’re out extended periods of time without running your engines and charging and things to that nature?

So we reached out to a couple different companies and texted them one evening and we got some response back from a company called Skeleton Technologies and they started talking and they had some technology that would allow him to do exactly what we’re talking about, starting the vehicle with little to no battery life, not having to idle the vehicle to recharge batteries, so in the morning that you can start your truck extending the battery life.

So that’s kind of how it all got started and here we’re today we’ve partnered up with Skeleton Technologies and we’re bringing some new innovative technology to North America.

Jamie Irvine:

Let’s talk specifically about the product. So kind of the problem that you were trying to solve was all centered around batteries charging and reducing emissions, reducing costs. So let’s talk a little bit about the product specifically.

Mike Phillips:

So the product is actually, it’s a super capacitor and we use capacitors in everything from computers into all kinds of different technologies and Skeleton Technologies has developed a capacitor that stores energy and can do it at a higher level and more reliably than anybody else in the marketplace.

They have won some awards for taking the graphene, which is the actual material that is inside the capacitor that stores the energy. They’ve developed a way to curve it and can hold 72% more energy than any other capacitor manufacturer in the world. And they actually won the 2022 European invention of the year.

We partnered up with Skeleton Technologies and we’re bringing that technology to North America. It’s in a nice compact size. It looks like a group 31 battery, but it’s not a battery. It sole purpose is to store energy and to start the engine and taking the lead acid batteries completely out of the equation.

Jamie Irvine:

That’s a big objective. I know when I was selling heavy-duty parts, one of the things about selling like those group 31 lead acid batteries, a lot of times you’re replacing them every single year. And so maybe let’s talk a little bit about the old technology and where the problem is. So obviously replacing batteries on a regular basis has a cost to it, but there’s more to it than that, isn’t there?

Mike Phillips:

Absolutely, Jamie, it’s become a part of as you mentioned, just the annual maintenance cost. I mean, it’s not worth trying to recharge batteries or the process to, if you have a bad battery to hook it up, you have charge it up to see if you can even get warranties. So it’s become just part of an annual maintenance cost.

And most fleets that we talk to just every year they just replace the batteries without even knowing if they’re still reliable or not. But the problem with the lead acid battery is they deteriorate very quickly and they’re not really designed to start the engine. They’re more designed to run hotel loads.

Now they do make starting batteries, but what you lose from that is they’re not designed really for slow discharge and running hotel loads over the road and that sort of thing. Batteries also are very susceptible to temperature. Unlike a supercapacitor that we make engine start module, it’s not affected by any temperature extremes. It can hold its charge for months at a time without being charged.

So what the Skelstart engine start module can provide is once you fully charge it, it’s going to hold that charge and it’s going to start your truck every time, reliably time after time, no matter what the conditions are or how long it’s set out in extreme temperatures. So that’s where we’re at today.

Jamie Irvine:

So is this something that is kind of retrofitted into the truck? So you buy this from you, where does it go? You mentioned that it kind of looks like a group 31, so where does it get placed in the truck and then how does it get connected to the charging system so that available starting power is always there on demand?

Mike Phillips:

Yeah, that’s definitely a good question. So it’s the exact same size as a group 31 battery and most trucks have a battery bank of say usually four batteries. What you do is you actually replace one of the lead acid batteries with the Skelstart. It goes right in place of that, you disconnect all the positive cables from the battery that run direct to the positive side of the starter solenoid. You hook those together, so now the batteries are no longer attached to the starter.

So you create a new cable that attaches from the Skelstart direct to the positive side of the starter, and then you hook the other two battery negative and battery positive to the Skelstart battery. So the only thing that is attached now to the starter is the Skelstart, and so it takes the batteries completely out of the equation for starting.

So it’s not only going to make your batteries last longer, they are no longer necessary for starting the truck. It can also impact the life of your starter because as we know, high performance starters require certain amperage to turn the engine over and with the Skelstart, you’re going to get that required amperage every time.

Unlike a lead acid battery that can deteriorate your starters even so we’re increasing the life of the batteries, we’re increasing your starter life, and again, you could have a completely dead set of batteries and the truck will start because the Skelstart has the energy stored to start that truck time after time.

Jamie Irvine:

So you are kind of isolating the starter. The batteries obviously that are still the three batteries left, they’re still relied on to provide energy, I’m assuming for when the truck is pulled over on the side of the road and the driver needs something inside of the cab, how does the day-to-day operation of those other electrical systems get impacted by this change?

Mike Phillips:

So that’s exactly right. Lead acid batteries are there to run the radio, charge your cell phone, computers, things like that. And the beauty of they’re not impacted because they have more energy at a slow discharge that can run that sort of power all night long. And as I mentioned, so an over the road truck, if he’s setting at a truck stop, he can run all of his creature comforts all night.

He won’t have to worry about starting the truck to recharge those batteries so they can start in the morning because as I mentioned, the Skelstart takes over that.

So there’s very minimal amperage required to start your truck. So as long as there’s enough juice in the battery when you turn it to the on position to turn the ECU on, the scale start takes over the rest and pretty much the batteries will always have enough juice to at least turn that first initial step on.

Jamie Irvine:

And this doesn’t impact the charging system in any way. So the alternator is still connected when you are driving down the road, you’re still charging up your system, so that’s why you’re always going to have enough energy when you need it.

Mike Phillips:

Absolutely. That’s absolutely correct, and it takes such little energy to recharge the Skelstart, it’s a matter of seconds basically that it’s back at its full recharge. It only takes nine volts to completely charge the Skelstart. And when you first install this, it comes discharged because we were talking about green technology, there’s no hazardous materials inside the Skelstart. It actually can be recycled just like you would TV monitor or a laptop computer. So you’ll energize it once it’s all hooked up, there’s three posts on the Skelstart.

You have your battery positive and battery negative, and then the starter plus, which runs directly to once you energize it in initial install, it takes about 19 minutes for it to come to full charge. And there’s an LED indicator that tells you once that’s charged and once that’s charged, we’ve actually can start a 16 liter engine multiple times, 12 to 15 times before it even needs to be recharged again.

And once you’ve started that truck and it’s actually running the lead acid batteries have already basically recharged that Skelstart from that one time that it’s used. So it’s a very powerful unit. We can install these and it’ll start engines all the way up to 85 liters.

We put these in mining equipment, so it’s very versatile and it can start any engine anytime. And I did talk a little bit about extreme temperatures. We’ve actually tested these down to negative 44 degrees and it’ll start the truck in less than one second every time. So it’s an amazing piece of technology that will keep your truck on the road.

Jamie Irvine:

And that was negative 44 Celsius?

Mike Phillips:

Correct. Celsius Fahrenheit at that point are actually the same.

Jamie Irvine:

That’s the joke, right? When it’s that cold, which is it? Celsius or Fahrenheit, it doesn’t matter.

Mike Phillips:

It doesn’t matter. So as long as the capacitors aren’t affected like a battery is, and if you notice even in your automobile when it’s really cold outside, it has to crank and crank to get that engine to start. So as long as the oil in the engine is still liquid, it’ll start. So it probably could go even below 40 degrees Celsius, but at a certain point the oil starts to solidify and it won’t crank the engine over.

Jamie Irvine:

Right. Okay. That makes sense. And for all of our listeners who have never experienced that, it is something else to pull away with your vehicle and it’s so cold, the tires are actually frozen a little bit into the shape that they sat in overnight. So actually when you go down the road, you get until the tires warm up. I always tell that story to give people an indication, they almost don’t believe you when you say things like the oil can freeze solid, but that is the experience of the great white north.

Okay. So one of the things I know about lead acid batteries is that the plates inside the battery are susceptible to road vibration, and as the plates start to break, the battery loses its ability to store energy and then eventually it just is a dead battery. How is a capacitor different to a battery when it comes to road vibration?

Mike Phillips:

Yeah, so what is inside each capacitor is, as I mentioned, that graphene that is actually applied to an aluminum sheet and then it’s rolled up and stored inside a little canister. It’s no bigger than a 12 ounce pop can. So that’s basically what it is. So there’s nothing that can rattle loose. It’s a self-contained energy storage system and it doesn’t degrade either.

Over the lifespan, like you mentioned with lead acid batteries just from vibration and even being charged and discharged, they do lose their ability to hold energy, where this capacitor, it’s good for over a million cycles. And so it’s pretty much a onetime investment for any fleet and it will continue to provide that high cranking amperage every single time without any kind of degradation to the internal components.

Jamie Irvine:

It’s fascinating. Do you have an example of a customer who’s used it and what was the economic impact for the fleet?

Mike Phillips:

So it’s relatively new out there. So we have had some fleets utilizing this technology probably for about 12 months now is what they’re looking at. We have it in some mining equipment, several over the road trucks. And what they’re finding, especially like with an electric APU system, they’re just finding that they’re not having to call in for jumpstart, they’re reducing the idle time.

So especially with the cost of diesel right now, they’re saving several hours of idle time to keep the batteries charged up. And something that I want to elaborate on about the APU system, generally, there’s another battery bank that runs that electric APU. So with the Skelstart, you can actually take the isolator out of the equation that goes in between the two battery banks from the starting of the engine to the powering of the creature comforts hotel loads.

And so now you can almost double the amount of batteries. So now you’re going from four batteries to run the APU, you can turn that into seven batteries. So you have all the power you need to run that APU system all night long. He gets up in the morning, goes to start the truck, doesn’t worry about what shape the batteries are in because the Skelstart starts the truck, and then we start the process over, the alternator charges up the rest of the batteries, and so they’re seeing a significant improvement in their fuel economy.

Not to mention what’s the cost for a roadside jumpstart. I mean that can be thousands of dollars right there. Not replacing the batteries is often so the maintenance and the downtime of replacing batteries. So they’re seeing some significant return on investments and if it avoids one jumpstart, it has basically paid for itself.

Jamie Irvine:

Mike, thanks for being on The Heavy Duty Parts Report telling us about this new product. Up in the great white north me and my fellow Canadians are very used to driving in snowy conditions. Now sometimes it’s that white powdery stuff, other times it’s just slushy, it’s sprays all over your windshield. And visibility is a real concern. But whether you live in the north or in the south and you only have to deal with rain, maintaining your visibility through your windshield is obviously a pretty important thing to do.

And so when you come to the fall and the winter conditions are coming, it’s a good time to update all the wiper blades in your fleet. This helps you to have a clear view whether you’re driving in rain, snow, or just driving through those darker conditions that we have to drive in during fall and winter.

Now, windshield wipers are one of the least expensive maintenance items on a commercial vehicle, but it’s one of those things that you really do get what you pay for in this product category. And I talked to Raj Chawla, he’s the CEO and Founder of ClearPlus, and he explains why some wiper blades don’t cut it specifically why in heavy-duty applications, there are a couple of things you need to consider when selecting the wiper blades that you’re going to use with your fleet. This is a company that’s really interesting. They’re very, very focused on just this one product.

So most of the people we have on the show, they sell a really wide range of products. But Raj, it’s all about the wiper blades. So listen in to my conversation with Raj, CEO and Founder of ClearPlus. I’m with Raj Chawla, the CEO and Founder of ClearPlus. Raj, thank you so much for being on The Heavy Duty Parts Report. So glad to have you here.

Raj Chawla:

Well, Jamie, thank you very much and thank you for giving us this opportunity.

Jamie Irvine:

I’m excited to talk to you. So we’re here at HDA Truck Pride’s Annual Meeting. This is a group of independent parts distributors and repair shops, the independent service channel. I like to think of them as the heart of the independent service channel. What products have you been sharing with the members as they’ve been coming by your booth?

Raj Chawla:

So Jamie, we are actually a single product category company and for the last 20 years we’ve been focused on wiper blades only. So we try to stay ahead of the curve in terms of whatever’s happening in the category. And so here we are featuring from conventional metal blades to the hybrid blades to the beam blades to the specialty heavy-duty blades to even the rear blades for automotive.

Jamie Irvine:

So since you’re a single category company, have you ever heard of an acronym FOCUS, follow one course until success?

Raj Chawla:

That’s kind of what we have really taken the path and customers appreciate that because there’s a lot of aftermarket participants in wiper blades, but they don’t really have the domain expertise or the distribution segment expertise. And that’s where we carve our niche and in training incremental revenue channels for our distributors, et cetera. So yes, that has served us very well actually.

Jamie Irvine:

So when I was a sales account manager and I was selling heavy-duty parts, I was always looking for ways to sell them more product, but not just to throw product at them, but to solve some problems, right? And certainly you’ve got your over the road kind of what people would think of with some of the larger fleets, but I always worked in areas where there was a lot of vocations.

It’s got to be with your product range. That’s probably where you zero in on certain vocations and certain applications and say, hey, we’ve solved a real problem. Could you give us a couple examples?

Raj Chawla:

Absolutely. Right here at this show, we’ve had at least 10-15 discussions where we’ve given this cross-pollination idea to distributors who somehow are more narrowly focused just on class eight vehicles. And we share with them the coverage we have for not just commercial vehicles in all classes, but also the motor code segment or also the transit segment or the school bus segment. And these are RV segment.

And so as a company, we have wiper blades and go in size from eight inches to like 40 inches in length, and about 36 in my last count, about 36 different connection systems. And with that, we basically cover practically 98% of any type of vehicle or equipment in the country.

So this can be used in their existing sales channels or if they’re motivated in additional sales channels, if they want to go after incremental revenue. And then some of them take that same thing and explore the Ag segment, the construction industry, cement mixers and what have you. So there really is a lot of cross-pollination in sales with the fleets.

Jamie Irvine:

That makes a lot of sense. Maybe from the actual end user of your products perspective, what things or questions should they be asking when they’re like, okay, I need to replace my wiper blades? What kinds of things should they be thinking about to make sure they get the right product?

Raj Chawla:

So that’s also a great question. It’s the category in general for fleets happens to be a safety and maintenance item. So the best thing that our customers can do in educating their customers is that for a low value threshold, which wiper blades typically in comparison to brakes or drums..

Jamie Irvine:

Or a transmission or an engine.

Raj Chawla:

That they should encourage replacements with preventive maintenance schedules. And that way safety is priceless. Now, while we value the costs and efficiencies for our customers, which are typically the fleets in this channel here, we really encourage to talk value of safety and timely replacements, which helps everybody involved, including the guy who’s driving that equipment or the gal who’s driving that equipment. That’s kind of what we lead our customers to train the salespeople to encourage and ask.

Jamie Irvine:

So I lived in Vancouver where we had mountains all around us, but whether you’re maybe leaving Colorado or heading towards Colorado, the last thing you want to do is be going up a mountain, getting hit with sleet and snow. You start at the beginning of the day, it was nice and warm, and then all of a sudden you can’t see on your windshield and now a load is late because of a windshield wiper, like change your wiper blades, right?

Raj Chawla:

Yes, we encourage doing that.

Jamie Irvine:

Not just so that you have more sales, but for safety.

Raj Chawla:

Yes. And we were saying before, really that’s priceless. And in terms of the value of what the wiper blades entails, it’s a must as a preventive maintenance item. But if everybody were to follow that, our category would be about three or four times the size that it is. But we keep trying and we see we are seeing better results.

People are buying the higher value products more and more fleets. The good fleets are certainly subscribing to the theory where they change wiper blades twice a year, et cetera. So those are great opportunities for our distribution.

Jamie Irvine:

Fantastic. We’re going to take a quick break. We’ll be right back.

Commercial Break:

This episode of the Heavy Duty Parts report is brought to you by Find It Parts your ultimate destination for heavy duty truck and trailer parts. Discover a vast range of parts at finditparts.com. Don’t spend hours a day looking for parts. Instead visit find it parts.com and get them right away.

Parts availability and quality have a big influence on fleets and owner operators’ total cost of operation, if they can’t find a part, it means more downtime.

If they install a low quality part and it fails, it means even more costs like tow bills, hotels, meals for the driver and lost revenue. That’s why we recommend Sampa. They manufacture a wide range of advanced parts for commercial vehicles. Their website has an intelligent product search engine and broad coverage of suspension, steering and fifth wheel components. Expect more. Expect Sampa. Visit sampa.com.

Jamie Irvine:

Today we are back from our break and before the break we were talking about your great product. You’re very focused and that’s fantastic. Let’s shift gears a little bit.

We’re here at HDA Truck Pride’s Annual Meeting. We’re surrounded by entrepreneurial independent companies, they’re distributors, they’re repairing the commercial sector and focusing on commercial equipment. What do you see as with the challenges we’ve had over the last couple of years, what steps did you take as a company to try to step up and help them?

Raj Chawla:

I think the biggest challenge that the independents face is really what the OEs are trying to protect them from doing, which is the right to repair. And I personally, I want to be more vested in that. The more I find out the threats of that to the independents, and I’ll encourage anybody watching this, please go to carcare.org, register for that initiative and let your legislators know locally how important it is to keep the industry alive and for everybody at the consumer level to keep the cost down.

So that’s one big thing I think. And then the other thing that comes to mind is that everybody’s talking about how it’s so hard to find technicians or people to work the counters and our industries generally losing the panache if you may, of attracting the right talent. And I think that’s a challenge that needs to be overcome somehow.

Jamie Irvine:

We just have to all do our little part, right? Well, let’s close our conversation on this note. There’s a lot of problems out there. We could talk about those all day long. Is there anything that gives you real optimism looking forward?

Raj Chawla:

Oh, in this industry? Absolutely. I mean, I am blessed to be in this industry because with everything that happened during the pandemic, we stayed essential.

We were open, trucks were being driven more so than before, even if there was a little bit of loss on the demand side on the passenger car segment, internet economy has been a boom to our industry with the more miles being driven on commercial vehicle delivery side in all classes of vehicles. So personally, I’m really thankful and very optimistic parts industry will always be alive.

Jamie Irvine:

You’ve been listening to The Heavy Duty Parts Report. I’m your host, Jamie Irvine, and we’re with Raj from ClearPlus. If you’d like to learn more about their products, go to clearplus.com. You ever try to get your vehicle to stop on glare ice? It’s pretty scary. Now imagine you’re barreling down the highway in an 80,000 pound truck and trailer fully loaded.

It’s a totally different scenario, and the stopping distances of these commercial vehicles can be as much as double the stopping distance of a passenger vehicle. So it’s no joke. You need to have good traction control in those conditions, but it’s not just stopping the vehicle, it’s also climbing steep hills operating the vehicle in these winter conditions.

And a tried and true solution to this lack of traction is to add tire chains. And we see that on highway roads all the time. I just was recently driving in the Rocky Mountains and they have a sign that says to go over this pass between October 1st and April 30th, you need to carry tire chains if you’re a commercial vehicle.

This solution is tried and true, and we’ve been using it for a really long time, but not all tire chains are made the same. So what do we need to think about? What do we need to look out for? Well, I got a chance to talk to Tony Tryon program manager for Traction products at Peerless Industrial Group.

In that conversation, we get to learn exactly what makes tire chains worth the investment for your fleet in the winter, what to look out for, what you need to consider when buying them. And really this is information that’s good for both the buyers and the sellers because if you’re going to sell a good quality product, you need to know about that product.

So listening to my conversation with Tony Tryon, program manager for Traction at Peerless Industrial Group where we get to talk about tire chains, we look to the next few months and sadly winter’s coming back to us in the north, but that makes me think of traction control and safety chains and things like that. You are here to talk about the products that your company specifically has a lot of expertise in. Could you give our audience just a brief overview of your product category?

Tony Tryon:

Sure. So basically it’s everything revolving around traction, whether it be for passenger, light truck, heavy duty, OTR, which is off the road. And we provide numerous solutions including just traditional tire chains, tire cables.

We also have some alternative traction devices that we’re working on and improving as well, like our Super Socks product, which is a tire sock, which I’m sure some of your listeners have seen out in the marketplace recently. And then we also offer a full lineup of accessories like tensioners and different tools to configure your chains the way you see fit on your tires.

Jamie Irvine:

And you’re manufacturing and innovating these products as a company. So you’re relying on distributors to get those products to end users, is that correct?

Tony Tryon:

Correct, yes. We have a network of distributors, especially within the HD market that have been worked out great for us and that we count on to get those products into the market and into the hands of those consumers.

Jamie Irvine:

Fantastic. So I always like to talk to people about who their ideal customer is. I know, and this is The Heavy Duty Parts Report, so let’s focus on heavy-duty. If you were to describe the typical customers who get the best use out of your products, who are they, where are they? What’s the situation with their fleets?

Tony Tryon:

Typically it’s pretty simple for our customer base. On the HD side, it’s government fleets, it’s private fleets and it’s owner operators. And we have a lot of government customers that have strict requirements and they have in mind what products that they need and what they need those products to do. And we found that with our offering, we’re able to serve them very well. And then that kind of spills over into private fleets. And then as I mentioned before, just the regular owner operators.

Jamie Irvine:

So if you live in the north like I do, I’m in northern Canada, but even if you’re in the northern states of the US, you know that winter driving is just a reality. Do you also work, because I would assume then with private fleets, some of them they travel a lot of different states or they might be going coast to coast. So it’s not just necessarily fleets in the north, would it be?

Tony Tryon:

No, actually, it’s mainly where the, I’d say Traction HQ is so to speak, is in the Pacific Northwest and then some of the other Western mountain states. So think of Colorado, Montana, Northern California, Oregon and Washington. Those are some of the states that have the strictest chain laws out there and where they have the most treacherous terrain that they need to cross, whether it be a mountain pass or switchbacks or whatnot. That’s really where the traction industry is focused.

Jamie Irvine:

And not all products that get manufactured for heavy-duty are as critical as a product like yours. So a lot of times, I remember when I was a sales account manager, I was selling spring brakes and we would do this analysis of buying cheap versus buying high quality and what the total cost of that is. But for your category, I mean, lives are at risk, the equipment is at risk, the economic impact of not getting this right is huge, but the impact on people is potentially deadly.

Tony Tryon:

That’s correct, and that’s why we really pride ourselves on our quality. There are some of our competitors out there and some other products that might be at a lower price, but we really focus on product development, innovation and quality and leverage our a hundred years of experience in the traction industry to deliver the best possible quality product and the product that’s going to work and that people can count on.

I think that’s the main thing is that they can count on our products. We back our products up, we stand behind them, we have a wonderful customer service department that’s there to help, and then the tools on our website as well. So all that combined, we try and offer our customers the total package.

Jamie Irvine:

And that total package is so important because I think about there is innovation in tires, there’s innovation in rims, there’s innovation in suspension. Things are dynamic in the technology side, in the trucking industry.

So if you go and buy, try to buy a one size fits all application or you go the cheapest thing possible, what’s some of the bad impact of making that choice of going cheap? What are some of the things you’ve seen happen on the road with other products?

Tony Tryon:

Yeah, I’ve seen a lot of things. If you have one set of chains in your truck and then all of a sudden you have say a cheaper product that’s a smaller diameter, you could have things like snap links or cross members that come off. And then that not only reduces your traction capabilities, but it also can cause damage to your vehicle. I know that’s also important to owner operators today.

With inflation, gas prices, the last thing you need is a chain that comes loose and starts flapping around and starts tearing your truck up. Not only are you not going to get the traction, you’re going to be sidelined, you’re going to cause damage to your vehicle. There’s just a lot of consequences for using a product that you can’t count on.

Jamie Irvine:

So you talked about your great customer service department. If somebody was a little unsure of the application for them and what product they should be buying, how would your company help them walk through that kind of decision?

Tony Tryon:

Well, the best way to do it is we have our website, peerlesschain.com, and then you could go to the product section and click on Traction. And from there you can view our complete offering. You can also go into what’s called our tire chain finder, which will help you select the right set of chains for your tire and then also for the application that you need the most, whether it’s cornering, going up or down hills, starting power, whatever you need that’s going to give you the best suggestion.

And then our customer service department as well, they’re always standing by along with our sales reps and our distributors that have many, many years of experience and just talking through and finding out what your exact needs are.

Our product offering is so diverse that generally we always have something that can fit the customer’s needs.

Jamie Irvine:

So go to peerlesschain.com, you can check that out. And then of course, if you need help from the customer service department, you can get access to it. I got one question. So I live in a community where there’s a lot of logging, mining and oil and gas work, kind of very similar. I always tell people the province of Alberta here in Canada is like the cousin to Texas.

Is there a difference in how you would choose traction products if you’re working in an environment where there’s a lot of snow and ice versus a lot of mud and that kind of environment where you’re going to be off road?

Tony Tryon:

Absolutely. Typically, when you’re dealing with ice, specifically, what you’re going to want is that starting power. So for those instances, we offer our VBar products, which basically has V like that on the chain links that kind of give you that edge over the ice. We also have studded chain, which also works very well, especially ours meets the Canadian CTO specs. So it’s a very good chain for starting and stopping power on ice. A

nd then when you’re getting into mud, we have wide base chains and some other products that are more specific for mud, but basically what’s happening is you’re trying to increase the friction between the tire and the road, and when those logs or treads get filled up with slush or snow or ice or mud or whatever the case might be, that’s really when the tire chains come into play and help you dig in and either start or stop or corner effectively.

Jamie Irvine:

So that’s for the ice, but what’s the product then, if you’re in a lot like off-road and a lot of mud and that kind of thing? Is it a similar?

Tony Tryon:

Yeah, it’s similar. I wouldn’t suggest like a VBar or a stud. I’d just use our standard quick grip mud service tire chains for that. Those have been great. A lot of people with Jeeps or different off-road vehicles would use those. I’m sure you’ve seen the videos of the kitted out forerunners and whatnot that use ’em. But on the HD side as well, we do offer products for mud service.

Jamie Irvine:

Okay. Awesome. Well, it’s been so great to talk to you and learn about the products that you bring to the market and how you guys are very different in the way that you focus on the quality side of it. I think that’s been great. I really appreciate you sharing your expertise.

Tony Tryon:

Absolutely. Anytime, I had a great time and look forward to coming back on your show.

Jamie Irvine:

Well, even though it may still feel like summer, don’t let winter catch you by surprise this year. Start thinking about fall and winter maintenance now. If you’re a fleet or owner operator, you got to think about that preventative maintenance, thinking about keeping your drivers and vehicles safe.

If you are selling parts, you want to start to consider what products should we start to bring in to ensure that our customers have exactly what they need to get their pieces of equipment ready for fall and winter driving. I’m Jamie Irvine, and you’ve been listening to The Heavy Duty Parts Report. Thanks so much for tuning in this week.

If you haven’t already, make sure you head over to heavydutypartsreport.com and follow the show for free. We’ll send you one weekly email so you never miss out on any of our content, and you can always listen to the podcast wherever you get your podcasts or watch on YouTube. Thanks for listening, and as always, Be Heavy Duty.

Share this:
Twitter
Facebook
LinkedIn
Email
Related:

FOLLOW THE PODCAST

Receive a weekly email with links to the latest episodes.

You Won’t Believe How Much You Will Save.

Your Complete Shop Efficiency Partner.

Provide Your Customers with Complete Parts Visibility.

The Heart of the Independent Parts and Service Channel.

Your Ultimate Destination for Heavy-Duty Parts.

Search