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Podcast

What the Donaldson Difference Can Do for You (Live at HDAW 23)

Learn how Donaldson is continuously improving to serve customers better, developing innovative products and technology that extend equipment life, and what the Donaldson difference can do for you.

Episode 251: We take a role very seriously for those of us here at HDAW who are concerned for supporting the trucking industry. One company that is making a real difference is Donaldson. A vertically integrated filtration company that is customer focused, continuously improving to better serve customers, and developing innovative products and technology that extends equipment life.

We are at HDAW 23, which allows us to spend more time with some of the great people who work for Donaldson.

Donaldson Logo. In this episode, learn how Donaldson is continuously improving to serve customers better and developing innovative products and technology that extend equipment life, and what the Donaldson difference can do for you.

Our Guests:

  • Angie Zurick is the VP Mobile Solutions, Aftermarket NA.
  • Todd Mueller is the National Sales Director US & CAN
  • Jay Schauder is Strategic Account Manager. 

Guest Website: Donaldson.com

Watch the Video Version

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

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Transcript of Episode:

Jamie Irvine:

You are listening to The Heavy-Duty Parts Report. I’m your host, Jamie Irvine, and this is the show where you get expert advice about heavy-duty parts that keep trucks and trailers on the road longer while lowering cost per mile.

The trucking industry is the backbone of society. For those of us here at HDAW who are concerned with supporting the trucking industry, we take our role very seriously. One company that’s making a real difference is Donaldson, and Donaldson is a vertically integrated filtration company that is customer focused. They’re a company that is involved in continuous improvement of both how they work internally and what they’re doing for their customers externally.

And they really have focused on developing technology around their products and their offering to be able to extend equipment life. This is a real focus for Donaldson. So we are at HDAW right now, and we are going to have the opportunity of speaking with three of the Donaldson employees that are here at the show to talk about how they specifically are focused on supporting the aftermarket.

Angie Zurick:

Hi, I’m Angie Zurick, and I’m Donaldson’s Vice President of Aftermarket Solutions Sales for the US and Canada.

Jamie Irvine:

Angie, welcome to The Heavy-Duty Parts Report. We’re at HDAW in Grapevine, Texas. So happy to have you here.

Angie Zurick:

Thanks, Jamie.

Jamie Irvine:

I’m excited to talk to you. One of the things that I know about your company, you’re dedicated to supporting the aftermarket and the trucking industry is so important and we’ve got to extend equipment life. So one of the things that I know also, when I looked, I used to sell Donaldson products to have some familiarity with the company.

I also was looking at some of the statements you’ve made publicly about your commitments, and Donaldson has been really investing including a corporate redesign, and I was kind of curious with that strategy, what were you trying to do or how were you hoping that that would help you better serve customers, and how has that worked out for you?

Angie Zurick:

Yeah. No, Jamie, you can imagine 108 year old company. Yeah, it’s great for solid foundation team experience, those kinds of things. It also can lead to some layers building up over time and slow down on processes. And the redesign was really about taking a step back for how we wanted to organize internally and empower the business units to make decisions faster and be closer to the customer.

So putting functions like distribution within direct control of the business units and enabling really that empowerment. So the last few years especially we’ve heard from our customers, they want that transparency of end to end where we’re at in the supply chain and the redesign organizes our teams in a way to be responsive to our customers. And the second thing I’d like to call out about the redesign is it’s really about our team, our employees.

So again, they want career path. They want to understand the transparency within the organization of where they can go. And so the redesign put in place consistent levels across all of the various teams around the globe. And so our team members have the opportunity to, we value retention and we want to keep good people, and that’s a big part of serving our customers too. And so the redesign was also about putting those infrastructures in place.

Jamie Irvine:

Yeah, I’ve always thought that if you take care of your employees, they’ll take care of your customers, and then the customers take care of the company and then everybody’s happy. It completes the loop. One of the things, a company of, like you said, 108 years and over the years, I know that Donaldson has always focused on technology, but you’ve had to invest in R&D and additional technology, and of course the trucking industry is changing so rapidly now. Yeah. So can you talk a little bit about what that process has been like over the last few years and what’s the impact of that been?

Angie Zurick:

Yeah. I’ve been with Donaldson for about a decade, and one thing that’s been impressive to me is we’ve maintained a pretty consistent commitment to R&D over the business cycles. So this year we’ll invest over 75 million, and that’s in things from continuous improvement, making our media just that much better for whatever conditions our customers’ equipment is facing.

It’s also in things like predictive algorithms that help us understand when a filter’s going to fail so that we can put in place with partnership with telematics, the predictive algorithms that will help our customers extend the filter life, get the most out of it, better for their equipment, better for the environment, but also more cost effective.

Jamie Irvine:

That kind of technology is interesting to me because on the surface it makes you think, well, that’s probably just going to tell people to change more filters, but it’s actually not true. It’s about getting that maximum life of that filter. So you don’t want to change it too late and you don’t want to change it too soon either.

Angie Zurick:

Exactly. It’s really optimizing that filter life so that we do just that better for the equipment because we’re getting the most out of our filter and better for the environment because we’re not changing it too soon.

Jamie Irvine:

And I can see why it requires such a large investment too, to calculate that because trucks are getting a lot more complicated. And they’re being pushed to places they’ve never been before.

Angie Zurick:

And we see that in a lot of places where we’re investing is the digitalization and impact on better tools, better processes for our customers.

Jamie Irvine:

Everybody has talked nonstop about the supply chain issues for the last couple years. It’s not no one’s a stranger to any of that, but what have you done on the manufacturing capacity side to be able to try to cope with that and provide the product to your customers?

Angie Zurick:

So you don’t get to be 108 years old by perfectly timing every business cycle. So another thing we’ve done is just been consistent in our commitment to capacity. So I think we entered the pandemic in a stronger position of having capacity, having long tenured with our suppliers. The pandemic certainly validated that the last couple years, but then taking that to the next level was about a lot of the things I’m sure you’re hearing right?

We invested in inventory and critical areas or critical components of supply. We diversified or got to be a bit more agile in our supplier qualification and making sure that we were being quick on our feet to improvise and adapt to the conditions as they changed. So we’ve made about a $500 million investment in capacity over the last five years, and we’re putting in another nine lines in 2023, so that whatever comes in 2023 or the next 108 years…

Jamie Irvine:

You’ll be ready for it. Yeah. Fantastic. Angie, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us.

Angie Zurick:

Thanks, Jamie. I appreciate it.

Jamie Irvine:

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

Commercial break:

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Todd Mueller:

I’m Tom Mueller with Donaldson. I’m National Sales Director for the United States in Canada.

Jamie Irvine:

Todd, welcome to The Heavy-Duty Parts Report. We’re in HDAW Grapevine in Texas. Nice to be here in person.

Todd Mueller:

Thank you. Appreciate the invite.

Jamie Irvine:

So I had a chance to sell your product when I was a heavy duty sales account manager. I worked with Floyd Dixon, a manufacturing rep who was retired now, but he was a Donaldson guy, wonderful guy. He actually taught me a lot about filtration. I always thought your customer service was pretty great but I know that you’ve done a lot of work to try to make improvements there. What areas did you focus on and how did you make improvements?

Todd Mueller:

Yeah, some of the things we do the customer experience is what we call it, is very important to us. We actually measure that on a quarterly basis and make sure we’re trending in the right direction. But some of the things we do, we want to be very easy to reach, 98% of our incoming calls are answered within 15 seconds, and the other 2% do not go into voicemail or automated system. They just have to wait just a little bit longer for the next available agent. And that’s not accomplished through automation. You will speak with a live person and that person will be based here in the United States.

Jamie Irvine:

Yeah. No, and that is important actually. When you got a problem and you’re not calling for fun, it’s usually because you got an equipment down or you have a customer that’s in that situation, you’re trying to solve a problem.

Todd Mueller:

I should add that that’s between the hours of seven to 5:00 PM central time. Right outside of that, a couple years ago we released a new e-commerce platform called shop.donaldson.com. So that’s the address. But you can do a lot of traditional things like part interchange, part number crossovers. If you register and have your account, you can see your account specific pricing, you can look up your last invoices, you can track shipments.

But the really cool thing we added here in the midst of the supply chain crisis about nine months ago was the ability for customers to log in and see real time snapshot of our inventory. So if you log in right now, you know, can look up one part number, a hundred, whatever you want to do, and you can see our inventory right now, but not only that, you can look into the future and see when our next two stock dates are in the quantity. So you essentially can then with that tool, communicate to your customers as a distributor what the outlook of receiving those parts are.

Jamie Irvine:

And that part’s visibility is a growing concern. I think that the pandemic in some ways kind of brought that to the attention of fleets. I’ve had a lot of fleets tell me that they found that they were more focused on maybe the driver’s shortage or the technician shortage prior to the pandemic, and then they realized how much lack of visibility on product was actually costing them. And distributors were stuck in the middle as well.

Todd Mueller:

And speed of response was not good. Unfortunately, at that time, people couldn’t get the answers or the help they needed immediately through traditional channels of calling their customer service person. So they would engage with sales who would end up doing the same thing and chase that information to get it back to ’em, but now it’s available at your fingertips when the availability of parts is going to be. And we’ve received positive feedback at a high level.

Jamie Irvine:

I’m sure. I’m sure people are really enjoying that. From a manufacturing perspective. I know that when you’re testing a product, you have a test environment and then you have what happens in the real world. That’s right. Could you tell me a little bit about the new technology that that’s called Alpha Web?

Todd Mueller:

Yep. Alpha Web is part of our hydraulic product line. It’s a new filter technology that was released at the end of 2022, but you’re exactly right. When our engineers sit down to design our product, that’s all governed by industry specifications, and then those specifications dictate the laboratory set up to do the testing. And prior to last year for hydraulic filtration, the ISO specification was a steady flow state type of a condition, which if hydraulics, the applications out there are not a steady flow state.

The operator is using the joystick to make his machine go to work. There’s a lot of vibration, there’s a lot of impulse cycles, so it’s not very reflective of the testing conditions. So last year 2021, ISO came up with a new standard that is cyclical flow. So the test itself has variations in the flow pattern of the hydraulic system as the product is being engineered or tested.

So our engineers came up using that test with a new filter media called Alpha Web, and it has kind of the simplest way to say it is a trap and lock. So it traps and locks the particles into space before, as the hydraulic system would go through those impulse cycles and those cyclical flow changes, those particles could get re-released back into the system. So now with the trap and lock the product does a much better job of containing those contaminants and not allowing them to have a detrimental effect on the system.

Jamie Irvine:

Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us.

Todd Mueller:

Thank you. Appreciate the opportunity to share a little bit about Donaldson and our latest products.

Jay Schauder:

Hi, I’m Jay Schauer. I’m the National Account Manager at Donaldson.

Jamie Irvine:

Jay, welcome to The Heavy-Duty Parts Report. I’m really glad to have you here. It’s pretty exciting to be here at HDAW and be able to do this in person.

Jay Schauder:

Happy to be here. Thank you.

Jamie Irvine:

One of the things that we are really focused on, both at The Heavy-Duty Parts Report, and I think we have a shared vision with your company, Donaldson, is just how important it is to support the aftermarket. And that’s why we’re here, right? Yeah. What trends or issues are you seeing in the field in the trucking industry going into ’23? What do you kind of see as some of the challenges we’re going to face this year?

Jay Schauder:

Yeah, I think what I’ve seen and have seen the most of over the last two years, which is natural with Covid, what we’ve been dealing with is different ways to reach our customers. And that’s highly through e-commerce, right? Digital platforms. We’re seeing a lot of requests for that data, that information help improve their e-commerce platform to sell in a different way that we’re not traditionally used to.

Jamie Irvine:

So that information that people, so you’re thinking of distributors who are looking for that information so that they can make your products available to the end users, the fleets, the repair shops.

Jay Schauder:

Absolutely.

Jamie Irvine:

So how has Donaldson responded to that then? What adjustments did you have to make, or what investments did you have to make in order to, and that’s a lot of information, and how did you go about doing that?

Jay Schauder:

Yeah, so at Donaldson we have tons of data, and that’s been the biggest issue, is how do we get that out there the right way, the right type of information so that we’ve made the investments on working with partners to make sure that we have that data available, the pictures, the weights, all that information, the PIM system that that’s available to them through partnerships to make it easy. The end game is to make it easy for our customers to do business with Donaldson.

Jamie Irvine:

And I mean, I used to sell parts. I actually sold Donaldson parts at one point in my career. And I mean, I know you can get a reference from one filter to another, but that doesn’t mean the micron rating is exactly correct or there’s those issues. So there’s a lot to that. So the quality of the data must be very important.

Jay Schauder:

Very, very important. And we make sure that, and that’s one of the best parts about Donaldson, is we’re very transparent with all that information because that’s how we sell against our competition. The value add, what makes Donaldson’s technology so great. So having that visible and accessibility is what helps drive that business.

Jamie Irvine:

And when I think about your company, it’s stated on your website how you are really dedicated to extending equipment life. So having good data, getting the right part for the right application, that’s all part and parcel with that. Right. Could you tell us a story or an example maybe from the field of a customer who’s had a lot of success just leveraging this technology?

Jay Schauder:

Yeah, so absolutely. One example comes to mind with one of our solutions through our Shop Donaldson website is our commerce connector that we’ve worked on. And really what that is doing is customers, end users that visit our sites that are looking for where to buy the balance product from. We have a direct link now to that distributor, which brings them to their e-commerce platform, making it easier to sell.

Jamie Irvine:

Oh, okay. Great. Yeah. And that flow from manufacturer to distributor. I mean, that’s one of the things that’s interesting. Over the last few years, I’ve talked a lot about the importance of digital and there was a hesitation and quite a strong fear about opening up some of this because of what we would call the traditional distribution model. I’ve never felt like it was an either or. It’s a combination of the technology and taking the best parts of the traditional distribution and keeping that intact. Is that how you feel?

Jay Schauder:

Absolutely. It just opens the door for more opportunity.

Jamie Irvine:

I like it. We make it easy for our customers. That is what is all about. Thank you so much for stopping by the booth and taking some time to talk with us.

Jay Schauder:

Absolutely, thank you, Jamie. Appreciate it.

Jamie Irvine:

You’ve been listening to The Heavy-Duty Parts Report. We’re here at HDAW. I’m your host, Jamie Irvine, and we’ve been with the folks from Donaldson. It was a great opportunity to understand a little more about what they’re doing to support the aftermarket specifically. If you would like to learn more about Donaldson, go to donaldson.com. Links are in the show notes. Thank you so much for watching the show today and supporting The Heavy-Duty Parts Report.

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