Monthly Archives: December 2018

GenNext to be busy at HDAW and throughout 2019

GenNext to be busy at HDAW and throughout 2019

It’s hard to believe that 2018 is almost over and Heavy Duty Aftermarket Week (HDAW) 2019 is right around the corner. GenNext will be very busy in Las Vegas, and we hope that you and others on your team will have an opportunity to stop by our GenNext Booth during trade show hours. We’d love for you to hear more about GenNext, find ways to get more involved and even pick up some fun GenNext-branded swag!
What else are we doing at HDAW?
GenNext is again a sponsor of the Leaders of Tomorrow (LOT) reception which will be held from 4:30-5:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 28 in the Mirage’s St. Croix A&B. GenNext also be hosting the annual No-Limit Hold‘em Poker Tournament at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 30 at the Mirage Poker Room. Instead of heading to another customer/vendor dinner, save that night to try to outwit your industry colleagues in a real poker tournament.
For more information and to buy in visit
This past October, GenNext hosted a successful In the Hot Seat Panel discussion at VIPAR Heavy Duty’s Annual Business Conference. We will be hosting a similar panel at the HDA Truck Pride Annual Meeting in April.


Registration open for fourth annual DTE

April is also going to be a busy month for both CVSN and GenNext as we once again team up to host the fourth annual Distributor Training Expo (DTE) in Atlanta from April 26-28. With three successful years behind us, we will continue with the same format for 2019, enabling 25 different vendors to train 200 distributor managers, counter personnel and outside salespeople over the course of the weekend. As an added benefit, Dr. Albert Bates will keynote the opening session.
We have always sold out this event, and last I checked, we only have one supplier spot open while the individual distributor slots were being reserved at a very rapid pace! Learn more and sign up at
We also are in middle of our first ever GenNext Membership Drive. Please make sure you register all of the individuals in your company that hope to be part of the industry’s next generation, regardless of their current age. Don’t forget that all individuals at CVSN member companies have full membership access to GenNext with no additional cost. But they have to sign up at .


Other 2019 projects

We have a ton of other projects we’re working on right now — all focused on educating, mentoring and recruiting. And we always need industry volunteers to further our cause. This includes:
• Our 2019 Q1 Education Webinar on Branding
• A CVSN/GenNext industry recruiting video
• Our “Next10” audio podcast series
• A job posting board on our GenNext website
• And much more!
Finally, and perhaps most importantly — have a happy and save holiday season! We hope you can take a few moments to reflect on the successes of the past year and the challenges that you face in the future. And know that we at CVSN and GenNext are here to help you navigate your company into a more profitable and successful market position.

Supplier Highlight

Supplier Highlight

Getting to know Truck-Lite

Jon Stineman, U.S. OEM sales director

Please briefly describe the history of your company?
Truck-Lite began in 1955 after George Baldwin created the first sealed marker lamp in his kitchen. His idea solved the problem of trailer lights not lasting very long and sparked a revolution in commercial lighting. Shortly thereafter, Truck-Lite released the first ever sealed stop, turn, and tail lamp. Since then, Truck-Lite has grown into a global company with over 3000 employees.

Please briefly describe your company’s sales structure: What do you sell, who are your customers, etc.?
Truck-Lite has a very well diversified customer portfolio. We sell a wide variety of products from the front of the truck to the back of the trailer directly to the OEMs and aftermarket distributors for the heavy-duty transportation industry. We also spend a significant amount of time in front of the fleet customers as well. This is very important to our success as we do our best to focus on supplying solutions to meet their needs. We sell our products in the automotive, agricultural, bus, mining, and off-road markets.

What separates your business from competitors in its marketplace?
Truck-Lite has a long history of industry firsts, and we are continuing on that tradition today by offering new products and innovative solutions to our customers. When you combine our innovation with the largest distribution network and largest direct sales force among our peers, we provide our customers with great value at a competitive price.

How do you believe customers perceive your business?
I believe our customers view Truck-Lite as a high-quality supplier with a passion for their customers.

How and why do your customers stay loyal to your business?
There are more options today than ever before in our line of work. I think our customers believe in our value, quality and overall service.

What is one thing most customers/suppliers don’t know about your company that would surprise/impress them? (i.e., tell us something about your company we don’t know)
Truck-Lite has really transformed into an electronics supplier driven by the success of the LED lamps. Now we are designing and manufacturing wireless sensor and trailer tracking devices under the brand name Road Ready.

What makes your company a great place to work?
The company has always had a commitment to growth and creating opportunities for their employees.

How vital is it to have quality employees entering your business from younger generations, and how are you trying to recruit these younger professionals?
Our industry demographics are changing, and it’s imperative we change with it. The younger generation will bring new ideas which will help our business continue to grow.

Does your business feel it is in the position to change with the times? If so how?
Absolutely, we are opening a new office in 2019 near Southfield, Mich., to help us recruit more young employees.

Do you have any advice for the next generation, as they work in this industry?
My advice to the new generation of employees entering the workforce is to ask a lot of questions and to get to know the products. The best experience is truly understanding your products and how they interact with the vehicle and the surrounding environment.

What are the three most pivotal moments in your career that you either learned from and/or that got you where you are?
My pivotal moments have all been defined by taking advantage of opportunities that became available to me. The first moment was when I moved to Germany for Truck-Lite to become a commercial liaison between Truck-Lite Engineering and sales after a new acquisition. When I returned home to the U.S., I jumped into another new role which allowed me to further expand my knowledge of our products and services at Truck-Lite. We all spend a lot of time at work so we might as well enjoy it and take advantage of the opportunities it can create for you.

Are there any industry leaders that have influenced you/mentored you? Who were they and how has their knowledge assisted you?
I have been very fortunate to work with so many tremendously bright and successful people in all corners of this industry. I find it difficult to single out a few. If I had to pick only one, I would say Rod Ehrlich from Wabash National. I always admired Rod’s passion for the work and his approach to find new and better ways to create a product or to get the job done.

Distributor Highlight

Distributor Highlight

Getting to know Wheelco

Steve Stich, president

Please briefly describe the history of your business.
Our promise to put our customers first is one of the many reasons why we’ve become the leader in our industry for the last 55+ years. Established in 1961, Wheelco has grown from a small parts and service shop to the go-to-place for (all makes, all models) truck and trailer products. As a family-owned business, Wheelco has grown to a total of six retail locations, three service centers, and one parts distribution center in the Upper Midwest. Our commitment to high-quality products and exceptional customer service has allowed us to serve customers with their specific needs.

Please briefly describe your company’s distribution structure: What do you sell, who are your vendors, who are your customers?
Popular amongst the heavy-duty industry customers, Wheelco has proven time and again to be a distribution leader, carrying aftermarket truck and trailer parts for all makes, all models. We understand that getting the right part is only one aspect of our customer’s needs, which is why our scope and services have grown. Meeting the customer-demand, Wheelco operates multiple complete service centers.

What separates your business from competitors in its marketplace?
Focusing on: customer’s experience, industry expertise and innovation.
• Our customers come first. They always have and always will. Ensuring that we have all of our customers covered with their unique needs, regardless of industry or price-point, is the foundation of our company.
• Our customers trust us. If they have questions about a specific part or process, they know they can reach out to us and quickly get the answers they need. We have the industry expertise.
• Our company is comprised of a team of innovators and experts. We know that our customer’s needs of today won’t be the same in the future. That’s why we challenge ourselves to find new and innovative ways to address industry challenges.

How do you believe customers perceive your business?
We continue to ask our customers what we can do better, what their current problems or frustrations are because we want to find the best solution for them. Here are a few Google reviews:
• “Staff was knowledgeable and helpful. Good prices.”
• “Amazing customer service and good people.”
• “Above and beyond customer service.”
• “Customer service was outstanding.”
• “Always willing to put in the extra work to find the right part!!!”
• “Will go the extra mile.”
• “Wheelco to be my go-to vendor for heavy-duty truck parts. Our business requires quick turn-around on parts and truck repair. I can always count on them to deliver orders on time. The service that I receive from [all of the parts guys] goes above and beyond what is expected. It is refreshing to have a customer service team who understands your business needs. Being able to count on Wheelco to have parts in stock and to deliver orders on time keeps our shop running efficiently. [The shop manager] understands our need to avoid expensive downtime and works to keep our trucks on the road by our schedule. Thank you for all you do to keep our business running smoothly.”

How and why have your customers stayed loyal to your business?
At Wheelco, being customer driven is more than just a motto we live by. It means that our employees will do everything we can to best serve you, our valued customer. That is our first and foremost concern. It’s the foundation of our Core Values. Customer-driven is more than just offering you advice, giving time-honored service or contributing the latest tech-support. It’s about being there — whenever and wherever you need us — in-person, over the phone or online.

What is one thing most customers/suppliers don’t know about your company that would surprise/impress them? (i.e., tell us something about your company we don’t know)
Wheelco is truly built from the bottom up. We attribute the core of who we are to our employees — that’s why our employees stay year after year. One of our service techs has been here for over 55 years! Our roster is deep, with many employees having been here more than 10 or 20 years.

What makes your business a great place to work?
You are valued. At Wheelco, each employee is vital, makes a difference and has a purpose for our company. Our knowledgeable staff offers excellent customer service and tech support. Because of our trust in our staff, we can make quick, educated decisions and ultimately serve our customers more efficiently. We make sure our employees are in alignment, are challenged and have strong relationships with each other.

How vital is it to have quality employees entering your business from younger generations, and how are you trying to recruit these younger professionals?
Quality, young professionals are sometimes the best leaders. They may not have the seniority or the job title, but we encourage innovative thinking and challenge processes at Wheelco. They will keep Wheelco true to its core in the years to come. Community participation, partnering with votech colleges, offering scholarships for those entering the industry are just a few ways we are recruiting younger professionals.

Do you feel your business is in the position to change with the times? If so how?
We’re in a constant state of innovation. We encourage our teams to introduce new ideas for products and processes. This innovative rational gives all employees the empowerment to make decisions and act quickly – now and in the future.

Do you have any advice for the next generation, as they work in this industry?
Don’t hesitate to ask questions. Share your goals with your supervisor and discuss how to accomplish them. Never stop learning. Always educate yourself.

What are your goals for the long-term future of your company?
Our Vision: To be the Industry leader backed by the best talent that delivers the ultimate customer experience.

Why did your company join GenNext? How can GenNext help your employees?
GenNext’s mission to educate, mentor and recruit reflects our initiatives. What sets Wheelco apart from the others is our industry knowledge and expertise. Collectively, our executives have over 250 years of industry experience in their fields. As we strive for change, we challenge our young leaders to find new and innovative ways to find solutions for our customers. Because we understand the need to continue to cultivate talent within, educating and mentoring our teams is vital. This need extends not only to Wheelco, but to the heavy-duty industry as a whole.

What are the three most pivotal moments in your career that you either learned from and/or that got you where you are?
Within the first two years of taking over the family business, I made the decision to open our first branch location. With little industry experience and guidance, we were able to be successful and profitable the first year. I learned many lessons in the School of Hard Knocks. However, it turned out to be one of the best decisions for Wheelco. Investing in land, in more employees and their families, understanding financial risk, growing inventory to meet the needs of consumers — these are just a few crucial necessities that had to be addressed to grow into the successful business we have today.
The realization that I had to learn to delegate and learn to trust my team’s capabilities was another pivotal moment in my career. Early on, I worked on-the-road, behind-the-counter, and side-by-side with my staff. I worked seven days a week, all hours of the day and soon realized that I couldn’t do it all myself. The stress and anxiety finally caught up to me. I realized I had to surround myself with a team of highly capable people of whom I have the utmost respect.
Rising to adversity has repeatedly been crucial to my career. Addressing issues and weighing them accordingly helped me focus on what was best for Wheelco. Easily, one of the most pivotal and influential moments in my career was joining VIPAR Heavy Duty. VIPAR’s networking, buying power and access to information was unmatched. Understanding that working in a vacuum, where you had no way to benchmark your business, was a huge point of contention. Partnering with VIPAR helped grow our business substantially.

Are there any industry leaders that have influenced you/mentored you? Who were they and how has their knowledge assisted you?
Early on in my career in this industry, my father played a pivotal role in which he was my sounding board on important issues. He was highly knowledgeable in business development and financial fundamentals, but more so understood people. Business isn’t just about getting the best deal, it’s about building relationships with people.