Podcast

Supporting Independent Parts Resellers

Learn how HDA Truck Pride has been supporting the independent parts and service channel for nearly 4 decades.

Episode 98: In this episode, we interview Tina Hubbard who is the President and CEO of HDA Truck Pride. She told us the story of HDA Truck Pride, the need that they filled when they were founded, and the strides they are making today to provide solutions for the heavy-duty industry.

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The Story of HDA Truck Pride

HDA Truck Pride is North America’s largest and most trusted independent provider of parts and service. The biggest differentiator that makes them stand out is the word “independent” because they support their members who are independent parts and repair service providers.

HDA Truck Pride Hero Image

HDA was founded in 1982 to provide its members access to products and brands at a competitive price. HDA Truck Pride is the result of a merger between Heavy-Duty America (HDA) and Truck Pride in 2011. To be a member of HDA Truck Pride you must be an independent heavy-duty parts distributor or an independent parts and service center.

Challenges Facing Independent Parts Distributors Today

Empty Repair Shop

“People are the biggest challenge right now. Recruiting and retaining people to build and enhance their teams is the biggest problem,” said Tina Hubbard, President, and CEO of HDA Truck Pride.

According to Hubbard, these are the issues facing our industry today:

  • We have a shortage of qualified people
  • It is not the most idolized profession so young people go to other industries
  • Lack of knowledge and awareness about the opportunities in our industry

The solution is multi-faceted but one thing we can all do is educate people about how amazing our industry is.

Enabling Members and Customers to be Competitive

The heavy-duty parts industry has always been a people business so it is very important to invest in everyone in a heavy-duty parts business. “Training and education are a primary focus for us. It’s a need that the industry as a whole is lacking,” said Hubbard.

At the start of COVID-19, HDA Truck Pride offered two training courses every day for 2 months. They published almost 80 webinars and trained over 5000 users. People who want to learn, grow, and evolve to be better, have always been able to rely on HDA Truck Pride.

Opportunity for the Independent Channel

The heavy-duty truck industry has seen more change in recent years than in the several decades that proceeded it. This has caused some to fear the future and to be uncertain about what opportunities will be available, especially in heavy-duty parts.

Ecommerce

“From eCommerce to telematics there are lots of opportunities. I’m excited about the new ways that we’ll develop to service the end-user. What the future has to offer is exciting to think about,” explained Hubbard.

HDA Truck Pride will continue to provide the independent parts and repair channel with innovative solutions and will do all they can to support the industry.

Complete Transcript of Episode:

Jamie Irvine:

You’re listening to the Heavy-Duty Parts Report. I’m your host, Jamie Irvine. And this is the show where you get expert advice about the heavy-duty parts you buy and sell, and keep you informed about what’s happening in the industry. Welcome to the Heavy-Duty Parts Report. I’m your host, Jamie Irvine. The way that heavy-duty parts have been sold for many decades hasn’t changed all that much. Manufacturers make heavy-duty parts, and they rely on a distribution channel to be able to supply the fleets and end users, the parts that they need to keep their commercial trucks and trailers on the road. Some things have changed over the years. For example, we’ve seen the rise of buying groups and then consolidators. We’ve also seen that the truck OEs are trying to vertically integrate and that has made the way that parts get sold a little bit different. And then of course we have all of this technology that’s coming, and that seems to be really driving a lot of change, both technology on the vehicles themselves, and then also technology that is used to actually sell parts. So I really wanted to get the perspective of someone who works with parts resellers every single day. I’m very excited to introduce Tina Hubbard. She’s the president and CEO of HDA Truck Pride. Tina, welcome to the show. So happy to have you here.

Tina Hubbard:

Hi Jamie. Thank you. Happy to be with you today.

Jamie Irvine:

So I’m really excited about today’s conversation because you are on the front lines. I was a sales account manager in the past. I was working in the field, bringing manufacturers out, representing a distribution company. I have experience from that perspective, but you’re working with all of these owners and members of HDA Truck Pride who are in the real world facing all of these challenges that we talked about in the intro. But before we get into that, I kind of wanted to just get a little bit of background of HDA Truck Pride. And when I looked at your website, I saw that your North America’s largest and most trusted independent provider of parts and service, and I kind of wanted to get a feel from you, how important that word ‘independent’ is in that statement on your website.

Tina Hubbard:

Really it’s everything Jamie. I mean, that’s the key word. That’s the differentiator, if you will. When you look at HDA Truck Pride, we are the result of a merger of Heavy-Duty America and the Truck Pride partners back in 2011. And we had one thing in common, we supported and serviced the independent heavy-duty distributor network. So while to the industry, we looked very similar to everyone on the outside, the way those two organizations went to market were vastly different behind the scenes. That one piece of independent heavy-duty distributors was the key thing that kept everything together. So that was what helped us successfully pull off the largest merger in the independent commercial vehicle aftermarket. That’s what then took us to be a member of HDA Truck Pride. You have to be an independent, heavy-duty parts distributor. So your location has no ties to an OEM truck dealership network. Many of our members are automotive parts distributors and heavy-duty. Some are industrial and heavy-duty. And, you know in Canada, our members are kind of the Jack of all trades, they’re industrial, ag, marine, mining, and heavy-duty. The one unique thing about us is that 50%, over 50%, of our members also offer independent repair services. So when the two organizations came together to create this vast U.S./ Canada, coast to coast, major dominant footprint, you know, as our tagline says, ‘wherever the road takes you’, where that’s the key, the independent side. And essentially when you look at us as an organization, there’s really three things that that’s our purpose and goal in life it’s to help our members buy better, sell more and operate more efficiently and assist in supporting and servicing that independent channel so they can be a dominant in the forefront if you will, to the commercial vehicle aftermarket,

Jamie Irvine:

You know when you said wherever the road takes you, and then I thought about some of your industrial and it’s like, and even beyond that! So, you know, when I look at companies and I work as a consultant now in the heavy- duty industry, and when I work with a company, I always like to get to know their roots because often in the origin story, there is some of the foundational pieces get put into place and they have a big impact on the way that the company works. So I understand that you had this merger and this consolidation and that obviously changed things in the last few years, but going back to like 1982, when it all started, what problem existed back then? And really why was the company started in the first place?

Tina Hubbard:

Great question. And it’s always great to learn from our past, right? And what was the foundation that created it. So back in 1982 Heavy-Duty America started, they took 10 independent, heavy-duty distributors and created a buying front. And back then to this industry, that was a fairly new concept. So up until that point, there really had been no reason for suppliers to look at the independent distributors and give them much of an entrée into the industry, if you will. They may have been selling them product, but not competitively. So really the entire initial purpose, Heavy-Duty America when they started was to gain their members access to products and brands at a competitive price. So leveraging their buying power and their networking finally got the attention of the suppliers so that they could have access to the products at a competitive price the channel.

Jamie Irvine:

Right. And that really was a change that kind of started in the eighties. And then I know when I came into the industry around 98, it was in that early two thousands, all of a sudden you started to see like consolidators and they were actually going and buying up all of these competitors. But back then in the early and mid-eighties, it was just about bringing together these independent stores so that they had more of an ability to buy better, be more competitive. That was really good for the industry. I mean, the independent channel really benefited from those types of moves that this company was doing.

Tina Hubbard:

Absolutely. That’s the whole buy better piece of kind of the three spokes that we focus on, that was the whole beginning of it. And as things evolved, you know, other elements became more important. Okay, great. We can all buy at a great competitive price, but now I got to move it off my shelf and now I need a new computer system, et cetera.

Jamie Irvine:

Yeah. So I can imagine as the decades went on lots of different challenges, but I’m really interested in 2021 and beyond what are the challenges facing your members?

Tina Hubbard:

Great question. I would say people are the biggest challenge right now, recruiting and retaining people to help build and enhance their teams in every position, purchasing sales, warehouse, delivery drivers, the entire thing, certainly technicians as well. Obviously for those with repair shops, let’s be honest, this is not some kind of glamorous industry. I mean if you look at the last time you were at a dinner party with folks, when was the last time you heard someone say and brag about the fact that their child was part of the heavy-duty truck parts industry? Right. I mean, I, myself, I’m an anomaly. My parents looked down upon my crib and said, precious baby girl, we hope you grow up to sell truck parts.

Jamie Irvine:

Did you have a doll that was like a diesel engine piston?

Tina Hubbard:

So, you know, I look at it and say, I am sure you would agree. Yeah, I’ve had a tremendous opportunity in this industry. And quite honestly, we all owe it to ourselves in this industry to do anything we can to help promote the awareness of this industry. There’s amazing careers and opportunities in this industry. And it just keeps getting better. I can remember when something like a supply chain, logistics career never existed, right? And now we have all kinds of things. The technology has driven tremendous opportunities in our industry regardless of what comes along beyond e-commerce, beyond telematics, whatever it is that develops in this industry, it takes people to create those opportunities and people to execute those responsibilities as well. So people are the biggest challenge right now.

Jamie Irvine:

You know, I know for myself, if I hadn’t found the heavy-duty truck parts industry, I just don’t know what would have happened. I had a really kind of rough start. I stumbled out of the gate as a man in his early twenties, made a lot of mistakes. And, you know, the one constant that I had was this great industry and surrounded me with great people. I always remember one mentor said to me, he said, if you want to soar with Eagles, you can’t hang out with turkeys. And so I was really, really glad to be surrounded by some really high quality salt of the earth, kind of people, reinforce work ethic, but I totally agree with you. You just don’t see the parents, but also when you look at the industries that we compete with to try to attract young, talented people, the tech industries have been so dominant for the last 20 years and just drawing so much talent away from more traditional industries like ours. So what’s the solution?

Tina Hubbard:

One of the things that we have done is try to work with some of the industry associations that help promote our industry into the high schools, even to start it as early as you can and bring awareness promoting trades. Diesel technician is a wonderful career to embark on, but we have so many other positions within our industry. So folks like the ASC Education Foundation and working with Wyakin warriors have been a great, great group to work with. And we try to use training as an entrée to help recruit folks into our industry as well. But sometimes it’s simply word of mouth. I think a lot of it is starting at the high schools and letting people be aware that, it’s not glitz and glamor, but it is a very wonderful, stable, challenging industry to be a part of. I mean, if you want to be in supply chain logistics, what better way to, to scramble up your day, then shove a ship into the side of the Suez canal.

Jamie Irvine:

Exactly – there’s no shortage of excitement. I definitely think that when it comes to getting people to see our industry in a new light, you’re absolutely right. And it’s got to come from advocates from within the industry. And one of the things that I’ve always told people is, look, if you’re about to make a decision about which career path you want to go on, do you want to go into a industry where the competition is so fierce, so competitive to get into that industry? Or what about finding an industry like ours, where we have such a need that we will just warmly welcome you. If you’ve got talent and you want to work with us, we want you. Wouldn’t it be better to go down a road where there might be a little bit less competition and that would actually give you a leg up sooner in your career.

Jamie Irvine:

It’s definitely something to think about and as champions of the industry we can have that conversation with people. So that’s fantastic. We’re just going to take a quick break. And when we get back, I’m really looking forward to continue our conversation. Do you want to make your marketing standout? Well you can’t sound or look like everyone else? If you sell heavy-duty parts, it’s time to create your unique message, a message that truly stands out and we can help. Our team provides consulting and marketing services to heavy-duty companies go to heavydutypartsreport.com/standout to learn more, that’s heavydutypartsreport.com/standout. We’re back from our break. And before we took our break, we were talking with Tina Hubbard, president and CEO of HDA Truck Pride. We were talking about the history of the company, the challenges that are being faced by their members today, we talked about trying to attract people to the industry. I’d like to shift our conversation now to training in a different perspective. So you do a lot of work with your members to provide them with what they need to be able to buy parts better, sell parts competitively, and do that service work. So what kind of training initiatives as the company engage in to try to support their members?

Tina Hubbard:

Well, Jamie training and education as a primary focus for us. We started down this path a few years ago and felt that this is a need that the industry as a whole is lacking in. So we wanted to be the conduit for our members, or the repository if you will, for all of their employees to access training in one simple location. And I guess when you look at it, we’ve had a bit of a change of heart. We used to talk about training and training exclusively. And when you look at that in a very limited scope it’s more than just learning a specific thing to perform a task or a skill. It’s more about education as a whole and growing people in their knowledge base overall. So, you know, when we look at training and education, we’re trying to fill a void in the industry and we’re looking at it all inclusively, it’s not just technical, it’s sales, it’s business, it’s customer service, even investing in the people. So being able to provide that for them is a service that we offer. If you go back to the beginning of this pandemic, I think if you look back last April, everyone thought, well, we’re going to live differently for maybe a month or two, right? And so we have all these people working remotely, we’ve got salespeople, and counter people that aren’t allowed to come into the business and they’re going to work remote, and they’re trying to figure out what to do. And we thought, well, you know, we’ll provide some helpful educational materials for them. I can remember the moment where the thought came about what if we offered two training classes every day, and if people had time they could get on and do these training webinars that our suppliers would offer. So at least they’re not just home pondering what they’re supposed to be doing, we’re at least helping them build their skill sets. So in April and May last year, we offered every day, two training webinars, almost 80 webinars throughout that time and trained over 5,000 users. So since that time, a year ago our HD Truck Pride University actually has had individuals from our membership complete almost 21,000 courses. So the beginning of the pandemic last year kind of built the momentum for our focus. And, you know, I guess it really comes down to, most people want to learn and grow and evolve. Our members certainly want to grow and evolve. So helping create this university. So you can access almost any training or educational materials that you want to ultimately helps evolve our members and their people so that they can move forward. Some impressive numbers that we had in this training and education we’ve done. I think the biggest thing though, is that throughout this last year, we’ve learned that we need to make sure we provide a variety of materials in quite a few different venues because everyone learns differently. Right? The one thing I wish is that we could get some virtual reality more of that because everyone seems to genuinely appreciate that type of training that’s available.

Jamie Irvine:

Yeah. That technology with augmented reality and virtual is going to be such a game changer. It’s going to be great to be able to allow people to virtually come into the studio with us at the heavy-duty parts report or go to a training class like that you’re putting on and be able to actually see the engine or whatever parts being worked on the wheel end and actually be able to almost feel like you’re right in the shop with that trainer as they go through some fundamental training. I think that’s going to be really exciting. You touched on a really important part of retention because it’s not just about the businesses that are working as members of yours, but it’s also all the individual people that work in those businesses being able to advance and I’m sure that contributes to retention and in a positive way.

Tina Hubbard:

Absolutely. Especially when we look at the service side of our industry, and making sure that we’re investing in the people to help them continually grow and feel like they’re furthering themselves in their own advancement and what they know. It’s funny, as we were just talking about the augmented reality and you think about industries that are a lot more appealing than ours and folks that say, oh, I want to design video games when I get out of school. Well, you could design video training for our industry. You know, that’s something that didn’t exist five years ago. So there’s a lot of different opportunities.

Jamie Irvine:

Yeah. So I’m going to put you in touch with my daughter and you’re going to convince her that she can use all of her art and graphic and talent as an artist to be able to help me in my business sell the podcast. I’d be able to make more of an impact on our, on our social media. I keep trying to tell her, look, I know it’s not something you’re interested in truck parts, but if you learn all this, then where can you go? You can take that with you in any vocation, any industry, because the fundamentals that you learn. So I’ll put you in touch with her and you can help me twist her arm on that. She’s going to listen back to this and be horrified. So when it comes to the future, I’ve had conversations with a lot of people in the industry. And one of the things that there seems to be a lot of fear around is one. We see the OEM truck dealerships, they’re, they’re trying to vertically integrate as much as possible, but also you have all of this rise of technology. And so I was kind of curious to get your perspective on how you feel about that, where we’re going with the independent service channel and parts supply channel, you know, are we going to be able to compete 10 years from now, or is technology and this vertical integration pushed by dealers going to go to make the independents not even be able to compete? Like what do you think is going to happen?

Tina Hubbard:

Certainly, I think it’s a challenge going forward, Jamie, but it’s not necessarily what keeps me up at night. The industry, this heavy-duty industry needs both the OEM side of the channel, as well as the aftermarket side of the channel for a myriad of reasons. I mean first and foremost would be customer service. Being able to have customers have options to quick and efficient resolution to their situation. And secondly, healthy competition to make sure that everyone is being played in a competitive manner in the channel. I think there’ll always be a need for the independent side. Certainly technology, and some of these challenges are new. I kind of have a deja VU moment go back to the 1980s when we first started. And our whole purpose was to provide access to products at a competitive price. So I look at 2021 and going forward and say, I think the purpose is more of this operational efficiency and helping our members with technology and quite frankly, data because technology is not useful without the data, right? So having access to accurate, timely and comprehensive data from the supply base product, data, images, weights, measures, diagnostic information, all of that is key and critical and something that we’re struggling a bit with right now, but helping to get our suppliers further ahead so that we can bridge that technology gap that we have. But quite frankly, right to repair is what keeps me up at night, right to repair. You know, if you just get to the basics, it’s really the vehicle manufacturers trying to create a monopoly and block the independent side from being able to provide parts and service to the marketplace. And if you look at the automotive side, since as you know, we tend to have about a 15 to 20 year delay to what happens to the automotive side of the industry, they’ve been working on that for decades, on the automotive side and have lost that battle, right? So now you look at the heavy-duty side, it’s the same battle. We’re fighting the same wars, but when you ask a vehicle owner, whether it’s automotive or whether it’s a Class 8 truck owner, everyone wants to have that option. They may never use it, but they want to have that option because, you know, uptime is everything. So if your rig is down, you need to get that fixed and you need to get it fixed right, the first time. So that right to repair data is a huge concern. We have been quite successful so far. And it’s one of those things, technology data and right to repair are some unique things that the entire independent network has come together to fight that on a united front. So you sit hand in hand with your enemy to shake off the devil.

Jamie Irvine:

Yeah, absolutely. So, you know, I like to look at things from a positive perspective. So what are you excited about going forward?

Tina Hubbard:

The unknown I think. I’m excited about the new ways that we’ll develop to service the ultimate end-user. If you look at the parts, you take a look at this industry and say, we’ve come further in the last five years than we have in the previous 25 with all of the evolution of technology and vehicles. So I look at the parts side of it and from e-commerce to telematics, there’s still more, that’s going to evolve and come about as opportunities. And when you look at the service side of the industry, there are tremendous opportunities that will be coming around. You’ve got predictive maintenance and onboard diagnostics and geo-fencing and all of these things that are here today and ever evolving, what the future has to offer that is still the unknown for us, that is very exciting to me. We are sometimes are resistant to change, alright, we’re always resistant to change, but there is a lot of new things that I believe are going to be coming down the pipe, whether it’s because of CNG, whether it’s because of electric vehicles and being flexible in being able to adapt to those changes that will come to the industry. That’s what I’m most excited about.

Jamie Irvine:

You’ve been listening to the Heavy-Duty Parts Report. I’m your host, Jamie Irvine. And we’ve been speaking with Tina Hubbard, president and CEO of HDA Truck Pride to learn more. You can go to HDATruckPride.com. Tina, thank you so much for being on the Heavy-Duty Parts Report.

Tina Hubbard:

Thanks Jamie.

Jamie Irvine:

Thank you so much for tuning into this week’s episode of the Heavy-Duty Parts Report. I’m your host, Jamie Irvine. And I’d just like to remind everyone to focus on cost per mile and let’s keep those trucks and trailers rolling.

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. 


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