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Fleet Exhibitors Shine at TMC2024 with Innovative Parts Solutions

Learn about innovative parts that minimize downtime and save you money.

Episode 313:  At TMC 2024, we interviewed exhibitors who highlighted innovative solutions for fleets in the trucking industry, focusing on fuel efficiency, clean air systems, and streamlined maintenance. These advancements are vital for cutting operational costs, minimizing downtime, and ensuring regulatory compliance, ultimately improving your overall bottom line.

Join us this week as our host Jamie Irvine interviews Dan Funkhouser, VP of Commercial Sales at Yokohama Tire, Geoff Selby, Owner of Expello Air Products, and Jayne Orr, Sr. VP of Sales Americas for Accuride Corporation to understand how their products are impacting the industry.

Learn about innovative parts that minimize downtime and save you money.

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Sponsors of this Episode

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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.

Welcome to another episode of The Heavy Duty Parts Report. I’m your host, Jamie Irvine. In early March, I had the opportunity to attend the Technology and Maintenance Council’s annual spring meeting in New Orleans this year.

It was a great time. While there, I had the opportunity to also go to the exhibition floor and conduct interviews with those suppliers that were there at the show. In this episode, you’re going to get to hear three of those interviews. First, we’re going to talk about tires with Yokohama.

Second, we’re going to talk about a total air system protection device from EXPLO Air Products. And then we’re going to conclude this episode with a discussion about wheels, drums, and solving problems for distributors with a unique solution from Accuride. Now, one of the overarching themes that you’re going to hear is the value these manufacturers place on serving the trucking industry in each of their own unique ways.

They have demonstrated a real commitment to solving problems for the trucking industry and really providing the trucking industry with products and solutions that empower them to do their important work, which in essence is take care of all of us because as we’ve said many times, the trucking industry is the backbone of society, and without it, our way of life would come to an end. So first up, let’s listen in to my interview with Yokohama Tire.

Dan Funkhouser:

My name’s Dan Funkhouser. I’m the Vice President of Commercial Sales with Yokohama Tire Corporation.

Jamie Irvine:

Welcome to The Heavy Duty Parts Report Dan.

Dan Funkhouser:

Thank you. It’s a pleasure. It’s my pleasure.

Jamie Irvine:

So we’re here and the trucking industry is here. This is a big fleet show. When you think about the trucking industry and you think about its impact on society, what’s your viewpoint of that?

Dan Funkhouser:

Well, almost everything you touch in your daily lives is delivered by a truck. You have the over the road line haul trucks, which haul stuff from point A to point B across the country, all the way down to the small little delivery trucks, the last mile delivery trucks that deliver food to your door, your packages to your door. So everything you touch now is brought by truck.

Jamie Irvine:

And the products that you sell, I know that you sell a wide range of products. So talk about some of the different vocations that you have built tires specifically for.

Dan Funkhouser:

Well, we’re built a tire specifically for the last mile delivery. We have some ultra wide base, which is really more for a fuel business or a weight conscious fleet That’s more bulk.

We’ve got some off-road products and some mixed service products that we sell as well. We’re big in the refuse business, fuel hauling, line haul, regional. Basically all the segments are on the business. We have a solution for their needs.

Jamie Irvine:

When you have such a global view of the trucking industry and you’re serving all of those different segments, how as a company are you going to manage that? What’s the approach?

Dan Funkhouser:

Well, we’ve developed really what we consider our Yokohama Smart solution, and that basically includes what we feel about our product, our people, and our company. And it’s broken down into four pillars. We have longevity, efficiency, availability, and dependability. We have some of the longest original mileage running tires in the marketplace that takes care of longevity.

We are extremely fuel efficient. Our people are extremely agile. We’re able to react in the market, so we’re extremely efficient. We’re available at all of the best dealers across the country as well as the truck stop market. We’re also available at OE Tractor and OE Trailers. So Park are available and we are dependable.

We have the most re-treadable casing there is, and our people have all been here for a long time. We have long standing relationships and we don’t go anywhere. So we are always there when our customers need us. So we are very dependable, not only from a product standpoint, but from a people standpoint and a company standpoint.

Jamie Irvine:

So as a dependable company, your customers, they’re not just buying tires for the fun of it, there’s a need there, right? What kinds of problems come up that over the years you’ve been able to address those issues and how has that impacted your customers?

Dan Funkhouser:

Well, one of their biggest concerns is downtime. They can’t afford to be sitting on the side of the road or they can’t afford to not have product. We are available at all the major truck stops, and again, we’re available at most large independent deals.

So availability, we’re able to get the tires, get the fleet up and running as quick as possible. Also, from fuel economy is now the big push on fuel economy with the car regulations and all the government regulations that are coming out.

Yokohama makes an extremely fuel efficient tire, and when it comes to doing the testing, the EPA tests, the retreads, they use a Yokohama RY 617 casing to test those retreads on for their fuel economy as well.

Jamie Irvine:

And so the fuel economy side of it, when you actually see that measurable difference, how does that impact the fleet itself?

Dan Funkhouser:

Our goal is to be the lowest cost per mile tire there is in the market. And you have to include fuel economy in that equation because tires basically, it’s a component that adds more rolling resistance. You have the less fuel economy that you can get out of a tire. So we basically want to have a very, very streamlined and fuel efficient product, helps out with their bottom line.

They have a ton of issues that they have to fight with. They have a bunch of things that are concerns, driver costs, maintenance costs in general. If we can increase their fuel economy and add to their bottom line that way, that’s something in our favor.

Jamie Irvine:

Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. Can you just talk to me a little bit about one of the customers that you’ve helped recently? Tell me what the situation was and how did you deploy all of these solutions you’ve been talking about to really make a difference for them?

Dan Funkhouser:

Well, there’s a very big fuel hauler that we do business with, and we’ve trying to get into their fleet for a number of years, and we couldn’t really get along. We had some issues, we just couldn’t get in there. They specked a lot of new trucks and they specked the ultra-wide base.

They chose to go with Yokohama’s ultra-wide base. So we got our way into the fleet through the OE section. We also gave them a OE spec credit on their national account, which we applied to their national account. They had to spend that money over the road or through a dealership in order to use that credit up.

So we took care of their OE equipment and we took care of their replacement sales with one transaction at the OE level. And the good thing about Yokohama, we are available at all levels of business. We make ourselves available. If our fleet wants to spec our product, we can get the product for them to spec.

Jamie Irvine:

Yeah, it really sounds like you’re a solution-based company and that you’re looking at supporting the entire trucking industry. So from that perspective, as an advocate of the industry, thank you so much and thank you for being on the show.

Dan Funkhouser:

Oh, thank you. Yeah.

Jamie Irvine:

You’ve been listening to The Heavy Duty Parts Report. My name is Jamie Irvine. I’ve been with Dan Funkhouser, VP of Commercial Sales at Yokohama Tire. If you would like to learn more about their heavy duty products, head over to yokohamatruck.com. Dan, again, thanks for being on The Heavy Duty Parts Report.

Dan Funkhouser:

Thank you very much. Have a great day.

Jamie Irvine:

That was my interview with Yokohama. And as you can see, they are truly dedicated to providing the trucking industry with solutions that do a number of things. One, they’re dedicated to providing tires that help improve fuel efficiency. They’re also very, very focused on providing consistent distribution of their product so that no matter where someone finds themselves, that product is readily available.

So if they do have a tire blowout, they will be able to get a replacement tire quickly and get back on the road. We’re going to take a quick break now to hear from our sponsors. And when we get back from our break, we’re going to listen into the other two interviews that I conducted at TMC. We’ll be right back.

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Before the break, we talked about tires. Now we’re going to shift gears and we’re going to focus on the air system of commercial trucks. Listen into my conversation with Expello Air Products.

Geoff Selby:

Hi, my name is Geoff Selby and I am the owner of Expello Air Products and DD Instruments.

Jamie Irvine:

It’s Geoff, welcome to The Heavy Duty Parts Report.

Geoff Selby:

Thanks, Jamie.

Jamie Irvine:

Glad to have you here. Yeah. Before we talk about Expello and the products that you sell, I’d like to talk a little bit about the different segments of the trucking industry that you serve, and why are they so important to society at large?

Geoff Selby:

Well, I mean, trucking industry is important to society in general because it’s how we move things around. It’s how we get rid of things we don’t want garbage for instance.

We do a lot of work with waste hauling fleets and all sorts of different types of fleets that deliver fuel and deliver all sorts of different products. So we keep ’em running and we think that’s pretty important.

Jamie Irvine:

Yeah, yeah. I mean, nothing like the whole Covid time really highlighted how important the trucking industry is. I think a lot of people in the general public got to see why that was important. I think we always knew at our hearts, but then we got to be called essential workers, so that was great.

So let me ask you something, Geoff. When it comes to the different segments of the trucking industry that you serve, what are some of the common problems that they encountered?

Geoff Selby:

Well, so our Expello valve really works within the compressed air system, and every compressed air system makes water just kind of, it’s part of physics.

And so ultimately that can cause all sorts of problems downstream up in Minnesota where we’re from, or Alberta where you are. Canada, yeah, it’s going to be frozen in the wintertime, but even down here in New Orleans, they end up with water and contaminants in the air system and has a lot of downstream effects. It could be negative.

Jamie Irvine:

Let’s talk about the downstream effects. So think of the air system. What does the air system power?

Geoff Selby:

Well, primarily brakes, brakes. It’s first there for safety.

Jamie Irvine:

Kind of important, right?

Geoff Selby:

And so it’s obviously the most important feature, but you’ve got air ride suspensions, you’ve got, it can be an input for a fan clutch. It can power of the automated manual transmissions. There’s all sorts of components that rely on clean, dry air.

Jamie Irvine:

And when those contaminants get in there, what can be the kinds of problems that costs?

Geoff Selby:

Okay, well, so take a waste hauler, for instance. You think about a residential waste hauler is stopping in everybody’s driveway. So the driver’s really riding the brakes a lot during the day, causes the compressor to run a lot. It’s a real high air use application, and ultimately that air dryer starts to get a little ineffective as the day goes on. It’s passing through a lot of wet, dirty air.

So what happens is that can get into the different pneumatic switches that run the features of the body and cause them to fail.

And of course, again, and if the drains aren’t being drained regularly, it can also freeze up in the wintertime. And that means the truck doesn’t move in the morning, which means your garbage doesn’t get picked up, which again, people like.

Jamie Irvine:

Exactly. Okay. So those are the problems. What kind of a solution have you developed at Expello to solve that problem? How does it work?

Geoff Selby:

Well, so it’s pretty simple. It would replace a manual drain, and what a lot of fleets will say is, hey, those aren’t getting drained as regular as they should. So what this will do is every five minutes, it opens for one second and just blows out whatever contaminants have formed in the tank. So it’s water, it’s dirt, it’s passed through oil, it’s corrosion, it’s things like that that can then cause problems down the line and eventually end up in downtime for the vehicle.

Jamie Irvine:

Right. So what is a good time for a fleet to look at that when you think of, especially if you’re a colder climate, this is not something you want to be addressing in January.

Geoff Selby:

Usually if you’ve let it get to January, you’re probably already experiencing some problems. So yeah, there’s never really a bad time of year to take a look at your air system. Typically, fleets will go through a lot of extra steps in the late fall to prepare for winter, and that’s a great time to look at whether Expello could be a good fit for you too.

Jamie Irvine:

Yeah, exactly. Walk me through what a fleet evaluation looks like when Expello starts talking maybe through a distributor or you’re talking to a fleet, they’re having a problem. How do you go to evaluate the whole fleet and make your recommendations?

Geoff Selby:

Well, so typically what they’ll do is we hear from fleets all the time that say, we have good air system practices. This isn’t an issue for us. And I’m sure that that’s true a lot of the time.

Jamie Irvine:

Or they believe it to be true.

Geoff Selby:

Or they believe it to be true. But a lot of times you’ll also hear ’em say, yeah, we didn’t think it was an issue until we pulled the cord on one of these trucks, and all of a sudden it was like a hose going off in the grass.

Jamie Irvine:

It’s supposed to be air and it’s just water.

Geoff Selby:

It’s water, high pressure water, all over the place. So that’s usually a pretty good indication that something in your process is not running correctly. And then that’s really just right there. That’s where we’re a good fit.

Jamie Irvine:

Exactly. So once they’ve installed Expello, what is the economic impact on them? Because if they had those issues, we know that the really water in the tank is a symptom. It’s not actually all of the problem. So how once they install this simple solution, does it impact their total cost of operation after they’ve implemented it.

Geoff Selby:

Okay. Well, really the big thing is just less downtime. We want to increase their uptime by making sure that the road calls that they were having, because they had a frozen brake line, the road call they had, because the automated manual transmission has started to fail and the truck doesn’t shift, those go away.

The expel will get rid of those that the contaminants that are causing those issues, and they’ll notice it in the rough time.

Jamie Irvine:

Yeah, yeah. Fantastic. You’ve been listening to The Heavy Duty Parts report. I’m your host, Jamie Irvine, and I’ve been with Geoff Selby, President and Owner at Expello and D&D Instruments. If you want to learn more about this particular product, go over to Expello Air Products.com. Links will be in the show notes. Jeff, thank you so much for being on The Heavy Duty Parts Report.

Geoff Selby:

Thanks, Jamie. Appreciate it.

Jamie Irvine:

This is truly a very simple product, and yet it has a big impact on making sure that the air system is not contaminated with water. One of the things I like about this product specifically is that it doesn’t really require the driver or the technician to do anything.

It works automatically keeps purging that water and debris out of the air system, and that prevents upstream and downstream issues inside of the air system, which of course lowers total cost of operation. When you’re operating commercial equipment, you do have to put a fair amount of attention on your wheels and even more importantly, on your wheel and components.

My next interview is with Accuride. Now Accuride has a wide range of products that span both the wheel side of it and the wheel end side of it. And in that conversation, I really think that it’s important for us to remember how selecting high performing products has an immediate impact on your total cost of operation.

And Accuride provides a wide range of products to meet all the different needs of the trucking industry regardless of what those needs are from the highest performing highest quality products to value products that might be applicable in certain vocations.

What was really interesting about this conversation though, is the additional things that Accuride is doing to specifically provide support to their distributors so that their distributors can get the products into the hands of those that need it the most, which is of course, owner operators and fleets that are operating commercial trucks and trailers. Listen in to my interview with Accuride.

Jayne Orr:

Hi, I am Jayne Orr. I’m the Senior VP of Sales for the Americas for Accuride Corporation.

Jamie Irvine:

Jane, you’re finally on The Heavy Duty Parts Report.

Jayne Orr:

Yay finally.

Jamie Irvine:

I’ve been looking forward to our conversation. Before we get into the products, I wanted to talk a little bit about just Accuride’s view of the trucking industry. The industry is so important if you work in the industry, you know that. But for those who maybe are just trying to learn about the industry, they’re getting exposed to it maybe for the first time. Why is this industry so important?

Jayne Orr:

Yeah, I mean, obviously anything that you receive most likely came from a truck, and so without the trucking industry, and I think that became really apparent during the Covid lockdown. We all learned that we were essential workers.

I guess we didn’t know that before Covid, although this is actually going to be my 35th year in this industry, and I don’t want to do anything else. It’s just an honor to make parts for the trucking industry and our hardworking truck drivers. And so I love it.

Jamie Irvine:

And over the years I’ve been in the industry 26 years now, and the people, the way that they are, just the way that they oriented in their life, the way that they treat one another, it is fantastic. And you really saw that come out when times are tough, heavy-duty people go to work when times are tough.

Jayne Orr:

Absolutely. Yep. Absolutely. I feel the same way. And when I come to these events like this, even people that I used to work with or what, you run into the same people, they might go to a different company, but they don’t leave the trucking industry because we are. You can still have good relationships and that’s hard to do in a lot of industries now.

Jamie Irvine:

So give me an overview of Accuride and its position in the industry so that people really understand which segments of the industry you’re working in.

Jayne Orr:

Sure. So we have three separate divisions. So our main wheel division, Accuride steel and aluminum wheels. We’re the only provider of steel and aluminum wheels, and we provide those to all of the segments of the industry, whether it’s class eight, class five through seven, even some light truck stuff, trailer, and then all of the segments of trailer.

So if it’s a dry van or a reefer or a tanker, pretty much you’ll see Accuride products on all of those things.

We have our Gunite, which is our wheel end division, and we make those in the United States. So those are in Rockford, Illinois. Those are wheel end products, hubs, drums, slack adjusters, and then we have an offshore program. KIC is our brand, and we bring in offshore wheel end products as well.

Jamie Irvine:

And for all the years that I sold parts, there is a need for that different levels of product because when you are dealing with that many vocations, there are appropriate times for certain products and others you can use a different product.

Jayne Orr:

Correct. And especially during the pandemic having the option when container prices went to $30,000 and it was almost too expensive to bring products in from offshore, we had our domestic products that we could sell. So having an offshore partner for when that pricing is good and being able to flex. So we offer the best solutions to all of our customers.

Jamie Irvine:

Now I used to work for distributors that bought product from you, and we were able to go into the field and work with fleets. When you think about the kinds of challenges that fleets have, your company has taken, even though you’re selling parts, you’ve taken kind of a unique approach to provide something more. Can you tell me about what that is?

Jayne Orr:

Sure. So we’re always looking to, especially now with the electrification, so what can we do to provide a better product? And we know that those batteries are adding weight to the vehicle, so what can we do to lightweight our products?

One of the truck manufacturers asked us if we could make a wheel that would actually be a little bit wider width, but a little bit lighter weight so that it fit their application for electrification. So we’re always working with the OEMs to find out what is it that we can offer differently.

The one advantage that Accuride has over some of our wheel competitors is we offer both steel and aluminum wheels. So whether they’re looking for a steel wheel is going to be a little bit heavier, but it’s a cheaper option, it’s a less expensive option. Or if they’re looking for the highly polished, beautiful aluminum wheel, we have that as well.

Jamie Irvine:

And those are two such completely different customers, and that’s why you do need this range of products. But in order to be really successful in the trucking industry, I think it’s very important for companies to bring solutions that compliment the products that you sell and make your customers more successful. I know Accuride’s working on something that is going to do that. Could you tell me a little bit about it?

Jayne Orr:

Sure. So we have a new program called Accuride Global Products, and basically we would be bringing in containers from offshore, and sometimes people would say, hey, when are right parts going to get here? And we’d say, I don’t know.

Jamie Irvine:

With a nice range of 30 to 180 days, it’s on the water.

Jayne Orr:

It’s coming, I promise.

Jamie Irvine:

Soon isn’t an objective number, is it? Yeah.

Jayne Orr:

So we have launched a program with a provider that allows us GPS tracking so we can see where that container is on the water. That allows us to know when is it landing. We can clear customs ahead of time, we can reroute when there’s a situation like there was in the Red Sea, we can say, hey, let’s send that container a different direction so that it doesn’t get held up.

And so between technology with AI and with GPS, we’re able to offer that. The other thing too, with working with offshore, there’s a lot of pieces to that our customers don’t want to handle, whether it’s the tariffs or just that whole…

Jamie Irvine:

International shipping is a complex business. You have to be a specialist in that alone, and your customers are specialists at moving freight on land.

Jayne Orr:

And we’ve been doing it for years. And so we want to take that hassle out for our customers, let us handle that offshore portion for you. And then we have those relationships with the offshore suppliers and they don’t have to worry and they come with the same backing of all our products. We’re going to stand behind those products.

Jamie Irvine:

So give me an example or tell me a story about a recent customer that you know of that Accuride was able to step in and provide a solution. What was the situation and how did it all turn out?

Jayne Orr:

I mean, right now the trailer industry is a little bit slow. And so we had a customer come to us and they said, hey, I received an order, but I’m going to need some products shipped in from offshore. I’m going to need it quickly, and can you meet these timelines?

And we were able to jump through the hoops and using Accuride Global Tracking, we were able to get the products in time and they were able to deliver the trailers. So with the shorter lead time, you don’t have the long backlogs that they had before. We’re able to react quickly.

Jamie Irvine:

And that is significant because especially when times are a little tougher, they’d been over the last few months for your customer, that sale was an important sale and that had a positive impact on their business. So you leveraging that on their behalf brings so much more value than just the high quality product that was also delivered.

Jayne Orr:

Correct. Yep.

Jamie Irvine:

That’s fantastic. If there’s just one thing you want people to remember about Accuride, what’s that one thing?

Jayne Orr:

Well, one thing is, and I hear this all the time, is when I’ve talked to customers, they’re like, we just don’t have any trouble with your products. And that is something that all of us at Accuride love to hear, right? We have a reliable product, they just don’t have to worry about it. They know they’re getting good quality. And so that’s something that we’re all super proud of.

Jamie Irvine:

We don’t have any problems with you, is probably one of the highest praises you can get in the trucking industry.

Jayne Orr:

Yep. I love hearing it.

Jamie Irvine:

Absolutely. You’ve been listening to The Heavy duty Parts report. My name is Jamie Irvine and I’ve been with Jayne Orr, the Senior VP of Sales of the Americas at Accuride.

If you want to learn more about Accuride, visit accuridecorp.com. Links are in the show notes. And Jayne, thank you so much for taking time. Thank you. I appreciate that. Appreciate really great to have you on the show.

Jayne Orr:

Thank you so much. Appreciate it.

Jamie Irvine:

Well, that brings us to the conclusion of this episode. In this episode, we focused on heavy-duty parts solutions that are solving specific problems for fleets and owner operators alike. Make sure you head over to heavydutypartsreport.com, click the follow button, sign up to our weekly email.

You get one email a week so you never miss out on our content. If you like listening to the podcast on your podcast Player of Choice, make sure that you follow us. If it gives you the option, a five star rating and a review really helps us to spread the word.

And if you like watching the video version, don’t forget to subscribe and click the bell notification on our YouTube channel so that you get all of the new videos that are coming out. Thank you again so much for listening to this episode, and as always, I want to encourage you to Be Heavy Duty.

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