Learn how technology can significantly improve training efficacy and knowledge retention, and insights on developing a more effective workforce.
Episode 283: Martin Redilla, Education Manager of HDA Truck Pride talks about how technology has revolutionized the industry, the impact of the retiring generation, and HDA Truck Pride’s mission to be a positive influence. We delve into the importance of formal education and training, the generational differences between mechanics, and the daunting task of condensing decades of knowledge into a shorter training commitment.
Next up, we discuss the necessity of advanced training and diagnostics in the fast-paced heavy-duty parts industry. Discover how companies are harnessing these changes to elevate customer service and loyalty and shed light on the pivotal role of learning management systems and how they foster successful education.
Finally, we examine what shapes parts and repair technicians, and the imperative role of leadership and management training. We tackle the changing workforce, the influence of technology in boosting productivity, and the importance of trust and accountability between employer and employee.
In a bonus segment, we get insights from our host Jamie Irvine as well as a powerful lesson from the Detroit Lions, we conclude our episode emphasizing the importance of building a culture of trust in the workplace.
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
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.
Over the last few years we’ve seen a major trend, which is one that is deeply impacting the heavy duty parts industry and by extension, the trucking industry. What’s that trend? What are we talking about?
Well, I’ve got my guest today, Martin Redilla, who is the education manager of HDA Truck Pride, and he’s going to help us talk about exactly what that trend is, what we can do about it, and what some of the possible solutions are out there, specifically what HDA Truck Pride is doing to try to make a positive impact on the industry. Now, Martin is a self-proclaimed, total gearhead.
He owned an auto repair shop for 25 years before finding his calling for education. After a 40 year hiatus, he went back to school to earn his bachelor’s degree and he’s now helping the next generation of independent service people working in the independent service channel with HDA Truck Pride University. Martin, welcome to The Heavy Duty Parts Report. So very glad to have you here, sir.
Thanks very much for having me. Looking forward to it.
I alluded to the fact that there is a trend right now in the industry. It’s been going on for quite a few years. Specifically speaking from HDA Truck Pride’s point of view, you get to see 150 members, 750 parts stores, 450 service shops. What’s the trends in the demographics of the people who work for your members?
Well, I think first and foremost, we’re seeing a lot of new folks enter the field. As our generation is starting to move on to the next phase, we have a hole and that hole is being filled by those that really don’t have the same background that we did when we were their age. For example, our parents, our dads most often would help us understand what the workings underneath the hood.
That really doesn’t happen much anymore. Most dads open the hood anymore, they don’t even know what’s under there. The technology’s changed so much. It’s really hard to get it from a grassroots standpoint. Formal education seems to be helping with increasing those skills they need.
Yeah, I think back to when I was a kid and basically you needed a couple tools, right? A 7/8 socket, 1/2″ wrench, 9/16″ wrench, maybe a flathead and a Phillips screwdriver, and you could go to work on that 1977 Ford pickup truck, no problem. In fact, if you were small enough, you could even open the hood, sit down inside by the engine, shut the hood and if it was raining, didn’t even get wet, and it’s a completely different situation for kids growing up.
Even my brother who’s only seven years younger than me, the difference between the vehicles that I was exposed to as a kid versus him, even that seven year window, it changed quite a bit.
Yeah, I think the technology is just growing exponentially and it’s kind of like you either have to stay with it. I mean, just to stay current requires a significant amount of training. If you don’t stay up with it, you’re going to get passed pretty quickly.
One of the other things that I notice in the industry is all my mentors have either already retired or they’re about to retire. There is a large group of people with 30, 40, 50 years of experience who are hanging it up and calling it quits, and there’s just not that many people in the younger group anyway to replace them.
Certainly not enough younger people to offset the people that are leaving that have those years of experience. I’m sure you see that reflected in the people who work for the members of HDA Truck Pride.
Yeah, I think in many cases, I’ve used this example a few times, but in many cases they’re hiring somebody that might’ve been stirring paint at Home Depot a couple of weeks ago, and they’re trying to bring ’em into the field, not necessarily starting out as a technician, but a lot of ’em start out in the parts business and they might be a warehouse person. They might put ’em behind the counter if they have some people skills,
And when I was a young man just entering the industry in around 1998, I remember my first mentor, he said to me, how do you get 20 years’ experience in the business? Come see me in 20 years.
He also talked about the importance of learning in a progressive way, so just to your point, I started off on the shop floor, sandblasting parts. I sand blasted a lot of parts before they ever let me even tear apart a core never mind rebuild the valve, and I started in manufacturing, but from the parts counter I saw a lot of young people go through.
They start off as delivery drivers, then they work in the warehouse, then they work on Saturday afternoon on the parts counter, but all of that time they’re learning. They’re identifying what the parts are, they’re learning where they go in the store. They learn a little bit about the customers.
One thing I’ve seen though with the younger generations is that if you say to them today, well the training, it’s going to take you two years to become really competent in this. They don’t always stick around, so there’s a lot of turnover as well, and maybe that’s a generational thing. Maybe there’s other factors at play. What’s your thoughts on that?
Well, I think you kind of hit it on the head. I think that’s one of the biggest challenges is to try to get that 20, 30 years of knowledge jam packed and compressed into somebody’s head in a short period of time. We are in the age of instant results and like everything else, the new employee is looking for a place to kind of come in and start running down a path. So any tools we can build to help them get there quicker, I think are going to pay to our advantage.
And at the end of the day, if assuming you find somebody who really wants to learn, then education is really the answer. I saw a post just yesterday on LinkedIn from Tyler Robertson over at Diesel Laptops, a real friend of The Heavy Duty Parts Report, and he just said, in all capitals, Train Your People. It’s such an important piece.
And what have you observed in the way that the training is given? How has that changed over the years? I know when I was young, training was kind of a blunt affair.
People were pretty direct with you, but to your point, the technology has made things so much more complicated and there’s so much more needed to learn. I don’t think that that old school training method is really going to work with the younger generation. What’s your thoughts on that?
Again, another one of the biggest challenges, we have a learning method. They’ve identified people have different learning styles. People learn by touching, people learn by watching, people learn by listening. Everybody has a different style. Common denominator though, tends to be a very visual approach to learning. That’s why hands-on is so helpful.
You immerse yourself into that experience of learning that tends to stick with you very, very well. Somebody who reads something may retain it for a very short while, somebody that watches it and sees it happen, especially if they can get their hands on, it really helps the learning tasks sink home.
Yeah, I know when I started off in remanufacturing, they had a lot of documentation, a lot of manuals on how to do it, and I found that very difficult. I couldn’t just pick up a manual, read the step-by-step and just go and do it. I needed someone to kind of show me, and then when I read about it and then I saw it and then I actually did it myself, then it really was something that I could remember.
Well, I think that’s what we’re trying to do with our educational offering is there’s no substitute for hands-on training, especially with a mentor walking you through the process. That’s obviously the best. Because of time constraints, money constraints, logistics. It’s not always convenient or easy to do that.
So what we’re trying to do is introduce ways to at least introduce them to the subject matter, hey, this is a brake chamber. This is how it works. This is how you diagnose it, this is how you find the part number for it, whatever it might be, and try to give them at least a walkthrough.
So when they do get the opportunity for some live training or let’s say one of our suppliers comes in and offers a course or a training event, they’re not coming into a blind, I don’t know statistically exactly what the numbers are, but they say if you hear something or see something one time you remember 3% or 5% of it.
It’s only after repeated exposure do you really get that material to sink in. But we’re trying to at least lay down that initial layer so when somebody sees that process or product in front of them, it won’t be foreign to them. They’ll at least have one visual experience with it that hopefully some of it’s going to stick.
Yeah, absolutely, and I remember when I was going through parts training, one of the things they told me is we can tell you what that part is or we can teach you how to identify that part, so in the future when a different part comes along, you haven’t just memorized the part number for that, but you’ve learned the methodology for identifying a part that you’re not familiar with.
The process, exactly. That’s such an important piece to this because even though technology’s come a long way in the vehicles, that necessarily hasn’t translated into a lot of great technology for parts cross-referencing and parts identification.
The parts business and heavy duty is still a pretty challenging place to identify, and you’ve got to learn those core skills and then to your point with the help of suppliers that build your base on that base of knowledge.
And again, that’s what we’ve tried to incorporate all of the angles that are available to us. We’re even looking at trying some different kind of training where we’re using sort of a first person view to help them see the process that they’re doing while they’re watching it from afar, if you will.
If you can think of a classroom setting, maybe you have the instructor up at the front showing the process, but also having a bird’s eye view on that makes them, it doesn’t really substitute for putting it in their hands, but it gives a little bit of the visual sense of that being in their hands.
A lot of the trends developing now are with augmented reality where it tricks your brain into thinking that you’re actually touching the brake chamber or the slack adjuster, and I think that’s something as we go forward, we’ll try to expand our offerings in, but I think that the technology that we are using in the vehicles is also trying to keep up with regard to education.
We’re looking for other options to help instill the knowledge into that person that they can’t necessarily get on their own.
When it comes to developing a competitive advantage as a distributor of parts or as a parts and service location, how much weight would you put towards having a comprehensive training program? What I’m trying to get at is that if a company doesn’t have that, how far behind could they become?
I think it’s a short bit of time, to be honest with you. I think, again, if you’re doing one thing over and over and over again, if you’re just selling brake shoes, you can probably stay current for quite a while, but if you’re adding anything else to it, when we’re starting to look at some of these very soon, we’re going to have EVs everywhere, and that’s a whole new batch of technology. We’ve got ADAS systems, we’ve got AVS everywhere.
So for somebody to come in and bring an AVS sensor in and say, Hey, I need one of these, unless you have that training, you may look at that and go, I don’t know what that is. Is that a temp sensor for coolant temp sensor? Is it a crank sensor? I mean, until they really know the technology or how the system works.
The other advantage of that too is if they know they have a particular part and they know how the system or process works, that gives them an opportunity to add on sales to help not only the customer, but help the company if they know what else goes with the job, it just makes the whole package better.
The customer doesn’t have to come back and say, by the way, you didn’t sell me the spring kit. Here it is. It’s all ready to go. The technician’s back on the job, he can get it done and everything seems to run smoother.
That really resonates with me because in the past there was this one dividing line. You’re either aftermarket and on the independent service channel or you were part of the dealership group, but now we’re going to have new division lines, shops and parts houses that can handle ICE vehicles only, battery electric vehicles as well.
There’s another dividing line. Then all of a sudden there’s a dividing line around diagnostic capabilities and identification. So there’s going to be some companies who are going to be able to diagnose certain things and not others because they don’t have the technology or the training.
There’s going to be some companies who can identify parts in one vertical and not the other, and so all of a sudden you can imagine in the past, you could go to your local fleet and you could say, hey, we’re in this area. We do parts. We do service. We’d like to offer you this, and they say, great. You can do 70% of it, the other 30% will take to the dealer.
But over time, if all of a sudden you start falling behind in a bunch of these other categories, the fleet might just say, look, you can’t help me enough to make it worth our while, so yeah, we’ll call you when we have exhausted all other opportunities. Right. That’s not a competitive position you want to be in. That’s the worst case scenario.
Yeah. Well look at an automotive tire store for example. There was a time where they just sold tires. Right now we’ve got TPMS monitors they’ve broken into, they do brakes, they do steering, they do suspension, and I think the reason for that is the customer wants to have everything done at once.
It’s inconvenient to have to go to multiple shops or multiple places. Therefore, I think the more knowledge you have, the more customer service you can provide by reducing the downtime, get them in, get everything they need, and then the customer’s happy and they’re back on the road.
Yeah, exactly. We’re going to take a quick break and hear from our sponsors when we get back from our break, we’re going to find out exactly what it takes to put an education program together. We’ll be right back.
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 findaparts.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 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 today.
We’re back from our break and before the break, Martin, I think we did a good job of covering the trends in the need for education, the demographics, the changes in technology, on equipment. All of this is creating a very dynamic changing landscape for anybody that’s in parts and service, especially if you’re on the independent service channel side because you don’t have as many resources as maybe someone who works on the dealership side.
So Martin, you were tasked a couple years ago with putting together an education program for HDA Truck Pride and its 150 members. That was a big job.
Walk us through, how did you get started, and maybe by you telling the story, people will get an idea of what’s involved in putting together an education program. So day one, what was the first thing you started working on?
I think the first thing that you have to do is, I guess for me, I’m kind of a process guy. I like to know what do I want at the end of this process and then kind of reverse engineer it. So in our case, we needed a platform that could handle the changes in growth that we would like to see progress through HDA Truck Pride as we go down the road. We wanted a platform that we could use not only today, but something that could help us in five or 10 years from now. The tough part though is the content.
There is a lot of stuff floating around out there, but a lot of it misses the mark by a lot. I’ve seen some material from some of our suppliers, which in all efforts seems to come from their marketing department, which is great, but marketing is not necessarily the right team to know how to get in the mind of the parts counter or the outside parts person.
There’s a certain set of skills that they need to have that is not necessarily what the supplier is providing in the way of training. Many of the supplier training offerings tend to be simply the features and benefits, which is great. We do need to know those kinds of things, but when somebody comes in with a slack adjuster, first of all, the counter needs to know what it is, and then he needs to know how to turn it into a part number.
What are the attributes of that part he needs to know, and how does he need to measure or find out or narrow down those attributes to get to a part number that he can actually check against his inventory to see what he has for solutions for his customer. So that’s a big challenge. So trying to go through the content.
We had a bucket of content, if you will, much of it that was considered a training course was in a lot of cases, maybe a tech tip or a PDF and had some value, but really wasn’t a training course. So we looked at trying to develop materials that would again fit each role, whether you’re a parts counter, whether you are a technician to match the training to what they really need so when they’re done, they can do their job more effectively.
Martin, you make a good point about the difference between training materials that are actually going to be useful to a technician versus just the promotional features and benefits. There’s nothing wrong, and you absolutely need to know the difference of one friction material to another and their performance characteristics and certain vocations will use certain friction material.
That’s all good knowledge, but that’s just the beginning point for helping a customer understand how to make the right choice on, let’s say friction material. It’s a completely different story when they’re actually learning how to go about diagnosing a specific problem, looking at upstream issues, downstream issues, and then the actual process to be able to take a part off and replace it or do a repair and do it correctly.
So I think I’m completely aligned with that and the real differences between the two. Now I have a question about the technology that you guys are using right now. I’m sure that when you were tasked with putting this education program together, you had to look at learning management system for short. We call that an LMS.
So how did you go about evaluating the options and how did you end up picking what software you were going to use to house all of this great content? So once you had your head around the content, then you have to have a way of distributing it to your members?
I think the number one goal we looked for when it came to choosing an LMS was the user experience. How easy is it for one of our users or learners to find the subject matter they want? When a learner goes to the learning management system or to the online university, there’s typically two reasons they’re there.
One, leadership has prescribed or enrolled them in some sort of a class or training program, whether it’s a learning module we’ve built or an individual class. The second reason is they’re going to go to try to find something on their own.
Some people love to learn and they’re trying to find everything they can to make their job better. Again, the more knowledge somebody has, I guarantee they’re going to be a better salesman along the way. So we wanted to find a learning management system that was just super easy, and the one we picked, you can be virtually anywhere in three clicks.
That was kind of our number, three to four clicks because after that, people go away. If something’s hard to find again, they’ll search somewhere else. So we try to make it so user-friendly that when somebody wants this platform, we use visual images so they can say, hey, yep, that’s chassis stuff. I can go look for my air disc brake things there.
That makes a lot of sense to me too because from the perspective of if I’m the owner of the parts company or the service shop, I mean I need my people working and if I’m going to invest in training, that’s going to be time away from working, so let’s make it as easy as possible, and then also let’s just remove the barriers so that the people who are engaging in the training aren’t getting sidetracked by a bad user experience.
So that makes a lot of sense. So first of all, it sounds like first of all, you got to organize the content and you got to prepare the content correctly, so it’s actually useful for the person learning.
Second, you have to use a platform that has a good user experience. It is easy for everyone to use. What would you say is the third big thing that people need to consider when putting together an education program?
I think it’s feedback. I think that not only does the learner need to know how they’re doing, I think leadership also wants to know how their team is doing. I’m a big believer in ASE, and it’s not something we’ve really spoken much about, but one of the things that ASE provides is a testing platform.
So as a parts counter, ASE has a parts specialist test available, you can see where your weaknesses are and then leadership can then or yourself, you can prescribe training to fill those gaps.
Maybe you’re great with chassis and wheel end and so on, but you’re not so good with electrical components. You would learn that by doing testing and that way you can then focus your training on electrical. I mean, there’s no sense training in areas if you’re up to speed in that particular topic, but once you get past that and you start to find weaknesses in areas, maybe it’s customer service, maybe it’s communication.
We’ve tried to look at all of the different competencies that make a good parts counter or outside parts sales or service technician. What are the top competencies that make these people successful? Trying to match training to fill those voids.
Yeah, that makes so much sense to me. Is it just parts people and repair technicians that need training in this business? What about leadership and management?
I think that everybody needs training. Again, this is such a dynamic world anymore that anybody that stands still I think is going to get run over and it keeps increasing every year. So training for leadership to me is just as important.
Some of the pieces that you’ve done have been outstanding. I think they give leadership a great sense of knowledge in how to run their organizations better, more efficiently. Matching people’s skillset to the job at hand improves production and efficiencies in every company no matter what the role is.
But also little things like your office help, their very important piece in this puzzle, things like teaching them Microsoft Word, Outlook, PowerPoint. These are things that we’re looking to develop more training on to help everybody in the organization do better.
Yeah, and pretty soon, well, not pretty soon, I would say right now, we need training on how to use generative AI because that is the new tool in the toolbox, and you’re absolutely right. So there’s a big difference between the skillset needed to be on the parts counter to sell parts, and the skillset needed to be out in the field to sell parts.
There’s a difference between someone who’s growing new business and someone who’s nurturing and taking care of existing business out in the field. Yes, there’s a lot of training needed on the people and organization side of the business.
That was the course that you were just referencing that we’ve put together for HDA Truck Pride where we’ve focused on how do you organize all of these people and how do you do that in a way that you can maximize what you get out of each person and that you get, like you say, the right person in the right role, and there’s really great tools available that you can use to help you to accomplish this.
And I think all of this, when you put it together, I’ve been saying for a long time, and Martin, you can weigh in on what you think of this, but I think as the demographic shift happens, as we actually start to go through what’s called demographic inversion where there’s less children than there are older people, we’re going to see less and less skilled people in our labor pool, and as more and more of those older people leave the industry, there’s just less and less people and this creates this huge gap.
And so productivity, the suppliers that make their customers more productive, these are the ones who are going to win in the competitive landscape. Well, how do you make people more productive? Well, you do it through a couple of ways. You do it through technology.
You do it through having the best people or the best trained people. You do it by making your operation more efficient, which then benefits your customer. There’s a lot of ways to attack that, but I think it’s something that businesses need to look at in the entirety, and education is a huge, huge part of that.
I just find it hard to believe that many people can survive very long without it. You asked about leadership a moment ago, running the business I had, I got to a certain point where my business ran me instead of me running that business. What it takes is to take a step back, find somebody who’s really good at it and learn from them. And that’s just another form of education.
We’re trying to add those types of curriculums, courses in the university to help them develop their own team. Again, whether it’s learning how to manage your gross profit better, whether it’s learning how to manage your employees better, again, putting ’em in the right role, it just is a whole big picture and it takes a lot of little steps to make it right.
But I think if you do that, the stress level goes way down because now your business is running better, making more money, things are working like they’re supposed to as opposed to scrambling and us being behind the eight ball. It’s just a very uncomfortable feeling, and I think education is one of the great ways to get past that.
I agree with you a hundred percent, and this is just another reason why if you are an independent person out there in the parts and service world, you should consider becoming a member of HDA Truck Pride. They have pooled together these resources on behalf of their members. HDA Truck Pride is the heart of the independent service channel in the trucking industry.
So you know what, from all of us at The Heavy Duty Parts Report, thank you Martin so much for coming on the show and thank you to HDA Truck Pride for everything that you do for the Independent Service channel. We really, really appreciate that. I just don’t see how the trucking industry could be successful without organizations like you helping them along the way.
Well, thank you Jamie. It’s been a real pleasure.
You’ve been listening to The Heavy Duty Parts Report. I’m your host, Jamie Irvine, and we’ve been with Martin Redilla who is the education manager of HDA Truck Pride. If you’d like to learn more about HDA Truck Pride, head over to hdatruckpride.com. Y
ou can check out a little bit more about what they do for their members, and if you’re interested in learning more about the educational opportunities that come from our organization, make sure you head over to heavydutypartsreport.com, follow us and follow the show, and that way you’ll be kept up to date and any opportunities there are to take advantage of programs we’re bringing out, you can get that information through our weekly email plus then you’ll never miss out on any of the great conversations that we have.
So once again, Martin, thanks so much for being on the show. Couldn’t have done it without you, my friend, and looking forward to having you back on soon.
Yes, sir. Thanks so much.
We finished our conversation and I was just about to turn off the recording when Martin and I started talking and then we brought Diana into the conversation and we just had a fantastic extended conversation about this subject.
So I know officially our episode is over, but we’ve got some bonus content in today’s episode that you should really listen to because I think what you’re about to hear is going to be very impactful for you, especially if you’re a leader or a manager at a company. So here, listen into our extended conversation.
You make that great point, Martin, about when you were running your automotive business. I’ve run several businesses in my career, and you’re absolutely right. I often tell people when they say to me, I want to go start my own business, and I say, do you want to start a business or do you want to own your own job?
Because both of those are entrepreneurship, but they’re very different if you own a business and really at the end of the day, it’s not a business, it’s just you own your own job. You and a couple of people are doing the work and the business is completely reliant on you. Even if you start to staff up, if you never really escape that cycle of having to do everything or at least a big portion of it yourself, you’re absolutely right. The way you describe that as the business running you is exactly what happens.
On the flip side, when you have a business and you talked about systems and processes and the importance of those. When you have a business that runs with a set of systems, then when you’re looking at the issues that are happening, you are looking at it from the perspective of like, well, how do we make the system better?
And then how do we help our people follow that system and get that consistent result that we’re looking for? So that just really resonates with me. But specifically, if you could go back in time to the years that you were running your business, how do you think your experience would’ve been different had you had a stronger focus on education earlier on?
I think for me, it might’ve started with KPIs or key performance indicators. Every business that you are really trying to run as a business, and you made a great point about you can have a business where it’s almost a hobby, if you will, and it’s still your job and you can still make money, but if you’re really going to truly run a business where it is a functioning entity, you need to follow the metrics.
It’s all about data anymore, but you don’t need a whole ton of key performance indicators. You just need to figure out what’s important for your business.
And then once you have those key performance indicators, again, it’s like when we look to build a curriculum, we start with the end result and go backwards with those key performance indicators. We will then see what do they boil down to, what makes that key performance indicator a certain component, and from that point, we can then find out what metrics we need to focus on to make things better.
For example, if our gross profit per job is low, if that’s a key performance indicator we’re looking at, or what is the production requirement for each technician? Why is he not producing enough hours? Why is the counter person not selling enough? Either they can’t or they won’t. If they won’t, that’s one problem. If they can, but they’re not, then it really boils down to what tools are they missing or don’t have to do their job?
Does the technician not know how fuel injection works? Does he not know how a brake system works or does the counter not know how to find the part or use the systems? So again, using those key performance indicators to me makes a great start to engineering the process you need to make your business work like it’s supposed to.
Yeah, and whether you’re the business owner or you’re an employee in that business, you don’t know what you don’t know. So education is so critical because it’ll change your entire perspective. My entire career in many ways has been shaped by defining conversations where I just learned one key thing and then I learned this other key thing, and then I started putting those things together.
And sometimes you go months where you don’t think you’re really making a lot of progress, and then all of a sudden that learning that you’ve been doing, that education you’ve been taking, it all starts to click, and then you notice a big jump in performance. So I’ve personally seen that in my own experience. It sounds like for you that’s what your experience was too.
The other thing I think that is not necessarily focused on is the benefit to the employee. Finding new employees is quite a chore at the moment. The pendulum may swing where you’ve got an influx of people filling out applications, but currently we’re trying to find people.
The benefit to the employee of a shop that’s running properly is first of all, the employee feels their job is secure. They don’t feel like they’re worried about their position. They’re not out looking for something else because things run on a system. They know what to expect.
They know how to work within the company, and they feel much better about what they’re doing and about their place of employment. Having a mishap random run place without rules, processes, it’s not very comforting for the employee to feel good about their job. They just don’t, again, it’s not a home to them. They don’t feel confidence in their management.
Well, and it also is an expression of the owner of the business and the management of the business saying to the employee, we value you. We’re willing to invest in you. We see something in you that goes a long way.
That’s a hard message sometimes to communicate. Again, we talked early on about that immediate reward and so on. That’s not always part of that conversation. But as time goes, I think most employees like the structure.
They like knowing they have regular hours, regular paychecks, regular work, so that again, things aren’t running in a whirlwind and random. If you’re trying to keep your good people, find some structure that helps keep them in place, give them metrics that they can work with and show them how to improve on those metrics.
In a chaotic world, if you can find just a little space of consistency, I think that goes a long way to making you feel a lot better about each and every day. And if that’s your place of employment, I mean, I know myself in my younger days, if it wasn’t for that first company I worked for, Lord knows I wouldn’t be where I am today because I worked there 10 years and that was a home away from home, and did I ever need that to kind of go through those difficult years.
So yeah, absolutely, Martin, I really appreciate your perspective on that. Thanks for opening up and sharing that.
It’s almost like a sports team, Jamie, why are some teams, the pool of people is about the same, right? One out of a hundred goes from high school to college, one out of a hundred college goes to the pros. They’re all the best of the best. Why does one team consistently do better and one team doesn’t? It’s all about management and it’s all about how you run your systems and hey, this is how we train on this, and it’s all part of it.
Yeah no, I agree with that. One of the other things I was thinking about that you said, Martin, just in the talent pool and hiring people, you might have a lot of people apply. So we just recently expanded. We hired a couple new people in our organization. We had 330 applicants for a part-time position.
And at the end of the day through our process, we got down where we interviewed three people and hired two of them. Awesome. But you need to have a methodical, reliable system to do that. How do you sort through 330 applicants and find a couple people you’re willing to bring into your organization? And we ended up, we were only looking for one person. We ended up hiring two because we thought, you know what?
We found two great people. We should give them both an opportunity in our business. But it’s absolutely important that you build around your company, the systems, but it’s also the way it feels. It’s the culture, it’s the what do you believe in and do you back it up with what you are saying or is it backed up by action? Right. There’s a lot of people who say a lot of things, and there’s another group of people who actually take the necessary action.
Diana, what do you think working for The Heavy Duty Parts Report going to put you on the spot here a little bit, but you’ve been with us from the beginning, so at the beginning it is a little chaotic, but then over time you do smooth things out. You add these systems, and over the last couple of years, what would you say is the culture of The Heavy Duty Parts Report? Have we backed up what we say with what we do?
A hundred percent. I mean, working for The Heavy Duty Parts Report is different from any other job that I’ve ever had, partly because of working for a Canadian is really great.
Most of us are pretty awesome.
I’d say at the very beginning when it was just the three of us, and it was one business unit that we were focused on, we had a really tight culture. We picked up the slack for each other. We were all involved with each other’s workflows.
There was constant communication, and as the business has grown, those needs have changed. We can’t all be in constant communication because there are maybe 20 or 30 people involved with all of the business units that we’re working on right now, but the way that the culture was formed, that means that we all have a really deep trust in each other, and as we have created these systems that we follow here at The Heavy Duty Parts Report, they come from actual experience.
It’s not top-down. I think that that’s really important when we’re talking about training and when we’re talking about systems.
Jamie, if you were to implement a top-down system where you said, here is your checklist, this is what you do. That might not actually work in theory because the top management isn’t always involved with what the more entry level people do. They might not have a real hands-on perspective of what that looks like now, but I would say that the way that we form these systems, that The Heavy Duty Parts Report is really holistic.
Each person worked together with their department to come a workflow and come up with a system and checklists that go along with that and now all follow that system, and it makes it really easy for you, Jamie, as the leader to understand what’s working and what’s not working in each department and in each business unit. And that implementation was not seamless.
No, it wasn’t.
Any implementation of a new system is not going to be seamless. However, it’s that trust that we had at the beginning and that trust that we continue to have in each other that allows us to work out the kinks and to give each other a little bit of grace as we go on and we develop our skills, we develop these systems.
You asked about leadership. One of the things I think leadership could do well in improving their culture is to train themselves. How can you ask your people to train if you’re not willing to do it yourself?
They always say lead by example. Well, when leadership shows they’re trying to be better and grow as people, grow as managers, grow as business owners, that trickles down. I think you see your employee base then start to participate with greater reward because leadership is leading the way.
That’s the culture of the industry that really needs to change. I mean, the days of somebody, hey, I’m the boss. I got the keys and the cash drawer, and you come in and work for me, and you got to do eight hours of this every day.
Those days are over. I think employees want to work for leaders that are trying to grow and help them, and I think with the leader shows he’s training, then others subordinates would recognize he’s trying to grow his skillset to help them.
Especially in the younger generation.
They’re pretty smart and very observant.
Absolutely younger people. They expect the people they work with to have integrity and to really walk the walk.
Well, look at the companies they’ve grown up with. They’ve grown up with Google, Cisco, Apple, all these companies that have preached employee engagement and responsibility, and the leadership continues to grow and develop.
When you see that happen again, I think it’s just a wave that would trickle downstream. And you see the employees, they set a bar here and all the employees have to follow that bar, or I don’t think they get kicked out. I think they just don’t survive.
Hey, Diana, remember when I said that when it comes to the management role that you’re playing, because you’ve moved into a management role now, and I said that if you aren’t able to do the thing that you’re asking your people to do, they’re not going to do it. Right? So you have to be willing to do it if you expect someone else to do it, right? Isn’t that true?
It’s absolutely true, and as a younger manager who’s coming up into the world, I guess that I fit that definition of the younger generation now coming up into the management, that’s kind of a hard lesson to learn is that I expect much from my leadership and Jamie fulfills that, and now it’s my turn to learn how to do that for my people to be able to follow me.
That’s something that training courses or that HDA Truck Pride University, some form of education needs to communicate to this new generation of managers. So I look forward to doing that course at HDA Truck Pride University.
I think the culture in your company is set. I think because Jamie is such an effective leader, you are automatically going to try to mirror some of the things that he does. That’s going to be one of your own sources of training right there.
First of all, thank you for that, Martin. But second of all, I was just thinking about how in our company we have Gen Xers in senior leadership, we have millennials in up and coming leadership management roles, and then we have a bunch of Gen Zs working for us.
The environment that we have here, it had to be different than the environment that Martin you and I grew up in. When we were the new young kids in the workforce, it had to adapt and evolve because if we were trying to run that same play as 25 years ago, are you kidding? That’s not going to work.
Well, I remember when I started at Merrill Lynch, that was a big job for me. I was a fairly naive young, 26 year old, 25 year old, and so what do people do? They look to, first of all, when you’re that age, you think you know everything.
Then once you get to be like 25, 26, 27, you start going, well, I dunno , and I need to learn this. Right? So then you start looking at those people that are successful in doing what you want to do, and you learn from them. Again, I think in your role as leadership in any organization, you’re going to develop a group of people that are going to mirror you.
So by example, you need to set the bar, and I think you need to set it high to be as high as successful as you want to be. If you don’t want to be very successful, set the bar lower in the middle, but if you want to be, but you got to walk the walk.
I guess, and if you’re a leader of a company and you don’t like what’s going on in your company, I guess the first thing is look in the mirror. And the second thing is check out your systems. I guarantee you there’s a problem with the system.
I said, have you seen the Detroit Lions, Ford Motor company own them for virtually all of this horribly long losing career? They’ve never checked themselves because they basically sell out every seat, every game, so they don’t really need to.
But I think the fan base is getting frustrated, been frustrated for years, but it’s time for a leadership change. It’s not the coach, it’s the owner of the company. It trickles down from there.
Yeah, a hundred percent. Well, I really have enjoyed this extended conversation. Thank you so much for contributing to that, both of you. That’s been wonderful.