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Monthly Archives: December 2019

Distributor Highlight

Distributor Highlight

Distributor Highlight

Getting to know Six Robblees’

Andy Robblee, president at Six Robblees’

Please briefly describe the history of your business (a quick summary is fine).

Six Robblees’ Inc. was started as J.A. Robblee & Company in 1913 in Tacoma, Wash. Three of 12 Robblee siblings worked in the company repairing/selling bicycles, specialized sheet metal and locksmithing.  When J.A. Robblee passed away in 1933, the company was renamed to its current name reflecting the six siblings working at the time. An early relationship with Budd Wheel (1919) enabled the company to repair and sell wheels for automobiles and trucks.  Over the course of time there was further sales expansion of products centered around the wheel (wheel end, brakes, suspension, etc.). Through acquisition, the company has since expanded even further to include tire shop supplies, RV and small trailer components as well as light-duty truck accessories. The company currently has 22 locations in seven western states and one location in South Carolina. In 2019, Six Robblees’ Inc. has purchased three companies and is in the process of opening one additional regional distribution hub in Spokane, Wash.

Please briefly describe your company’s distribution structure: What do you sell, who are your vendors, who are your customers, etc.?

We sell products to a variety of fleets, garages, resellers and do-it-yourselfers in four distinct categories: Tire Shop Supply (wheel weights, patches, tire valves, equipment, etc.), Small Trailer Parts (everything but the frame), Heavy-Duty Truck & Trailer (suspension, brakes, lighting, filters), and RV Components (above deck: refrigerators, toilets, plumbing; below deck: axles, brakes, etc.).

What separates your business from competitors in its marketplace?

What separates us from competitors is our quantity and breadth of inventory on hand as well as our expertise and knowledge of those products.

How do you believe customers perceive your business?

Customers perceive our business as a local distribution warehouse.  We are expected to have product, to deliver said product in a timely manner and to be priced fairly.

How and why have your customers stayed loyal to your business?

We have kept customer loyalty by being consistent. We do what we say we are going to do. We have many long-term employees who know what customers want and don’t need to ask for repetitive details each transaction. Customers know what to expect from us and we usually deliver on that expectation.

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)

Something most customers don’t know about our company is how great our employee profit sharing program is. We have many employees retiring early (before 65) because they have a pot of gold waiting for them — something they testify they could not have saved on their own.

What makes your business a great place to work?

Six Robblees’ is a great place to work because we allow employees the freedom to invest and pursue growth projects. Although it is a dictatorship, the dictator is fairly benevolent and attempts to stay out of the way of industrious employees growing the company.  The freedom to follow through on investment ideas is something our employees really like.

How vital is it to have quality employees entering your business from younger generations, and how are you trying to recruit these younger professionals?

Six Robblees’ wants to find workers from all generations. Diversity develops better decisions. We need the younger generation, just as much as we need older generations. Some employees have worked with us for over 30 and 40 years. Some have only come to us in the last several years from great careers elsewhere. They have different prospective and viewpoints when addressing an issue. Several of our new branch managers are young, eager professionals that have worked their way up through the business. They tell the story of the possibility to go from warehouse/driver to inside sales to manager.  This is where we are investing the most — promoting and training our team often front entry-level positions.

Do you feel your business is in the position to change with the times? If so how?

Our business does change with the times in some instances (i.e. online ordering, digital communication, increased minimum wage, etc.). And in some instances we are more reserved in our adoption (social platforms, legalization of marijuana, etc.) and hold to tried and true formulas.

Do you have any advice for the next generation, as they work in this industry?

My advice for the next generation entering this industry is to be patient. I wasn’t patient when I entered and it jumped up and bit me at times.  Do good work and others will notice. Sometimes, bosses just want to see if you can persevere before they hand out the promotion or new job title.

What are your goals for the long-term future of your company?

Long-term goals for Six Robblees’ would be to put this company in a great position for the next generation. My dad left me an incredible asset filled with incredible people. I want to pay that forward for my son should he choose to pursue this business.

Why did your company join GenNext? How can GenNext help your employees?

We joined GenNext because it is an association with great, forward-thinking ideas. I don’t have time to figure out all the next up and coming products, thoughts or techniques. GenNext can help train, educate and guide all generations as we face these challenges together.

What are the three most pivotal moments in your career that you either learned from and/or that got you where you are?

The three most pivotal moments in my career where I learned the most were all mistakes. Fortunately, none of them broke the bank. I bought a piece of property that was going through some environmental review (that apparently is never ending), I bought a company that I really should have avoided with a ten-foot pole and I hired an employee that wasn’t a fit from day one.  Needless to say, I do a little more research now rather than just “go with my gut.”

Are there any industry leaders that have influenced you/mentored you? Who were they and how has their knowledge assisted you?

Industry leaders who have mentored me were Dave Robblee, Tom Ogren and Richard Metcalf (all of Six Robblees’). They taught me the nature and culture of our business.  We often decided next steps as a team. I learned how to build consensus and make better informed decisions.  Other industry leaders I respect include John Minor, Marc Karon, Dave Willis, Edward Neeley and Angelo Volpe. These guys know how to run a business. Not just the pie in the sky, but the nitty gritty details that make the difference. They’ve been in my shoes and have great advice when I ask how they would handle different situations.



Supplier Highlight

Supplier Highlight

Supplier Highlight

Getting to know TRUX Accessories

Mike Selick, director of sales at TRUX Accessories

Please briefly describe the history of your company? (a quick summary is fine)

TRUX Accessories was founded by two brothers who learned values from their grandfather’s tire shop. With a passion and love for chrome and the trucking industry they decided to branch out into Chrome Accessories. What started as three employees in a little room has now turned into more than 150 employees selling nationwide with headquarters in Montreal, Canada, and multiple U.S. warehouses. The company was built with the driver’s best interest focusing on quality and originality at a fair price.

Please briefly describe your company’s sales structure: What do you sell, who are your customers, etc.?

We sell aftermarket heavy-duty exterior accessories; LED’s, LED work lamps, LED headlights and assemblies, chrome, stainless, fenders, exhausts and recently apparel! We sell through distributors only: chrome shops, OE dealers and independent distributor. We feel strongly about protecting our partners and are loyal to our distributors. We do not sell direct, or online. We sell in North America and Mexico, Latin America, Australia and some parts of Europe.

What separates your business from competitors in its marketplace?

Innovation. We invent new technologies and set new trends in the heavy-duty truck market.

How do you believe customers perceive your business?

Quality and originality. We are definitely the cool kid in town.

How and why do your customers stay loyal to your business?

We are loyal ourselves. Maybe it’s the small family business mentality, but we take care of our customers. When Amazon and Ebay come knocking (and they do often), we always decline. Why would we want our customers to compete with their own suppliers? Also, they know we will always come out with new products, or inventions creating the next big thing.

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)

Canada really isn’t that far! Most of us live here and no we don’t live in igloos, but yes have a love for maple syrup. Don’t you? Eh?

What makes your company a great place to work?

Fast paced – fun environment. We are like a dysfunctional family. In a good sort of way!

How vital is it to have quality employees entering your business from younger generations, and how are you trying to recruit these younger professionals?

Super important. I always tell my wife, this is the biggest and coolest industry, nobody has heard of. Social Media and word of mouth.

Does your business feel it is in the position to change with the times? If so how?

Absolutely, we are always looking forward and trying to stay ahead of the curve. We can’t tell you our secret.

Do you have any advice for the next generation, as they work in this industry?

There will always be trucks on the road.

Why did your company join GenNext? How can GenNext help your employees?

As you’ll hear throughout — a passion for the industry. We thought it was important to pay it forward and spread the love. GenNext can continue to provide us with the education, mentorship and leadership of our current and future employees and industry peers. Time moves quickly, before you know it, it’s the next man up.



Organizational Update

Organizational Update

Organizational Update

The fourth quarter has been another busy period for GenNext HD.

In October our marketing committee rolled out a new GenNext HD LinkedIn group — designed both to attract potential new members and connect existing members. The committee’s first effort to connect with the aftermarket through the page has been its Meet the Board Mondays! program, which features a brief Q&A with a GenNext board member and active industry professional.

October also marked the return of GenNext’s popular industry panel discussion at the VIPAR Heavy Duty IMPACT Conference in San Antonio.

Featuring two VIPAR Heavy Duty distributors (Robyn Spitzke, Fort Garry Industries; Allan Parrott, Tidewater Fleet Supply), two suppliers (Ed Powderly, BettsHD; Rob Myers, Phillips Industries) and VIPAR Heavy Duty’s Jim Pennig, the panel discussion touched on employee recruitment and retention tips, industry fluctuations and technology. A recap of the discussion can be found at https://www.truckpartsandservice.com/aftermarket-truck-parts-service-news/gennext-holds-another-successful-industry-panel-discussion-at-vipar-heavy-duty-conference/.

As for our recruitment committee, GenNext recently worked with HD Group to launch our industry job board during the 2019 Commercial Vehicle Solutions Network Summit (CVSN) in September. The job board is available to suppliers and distributors alike to post job opportunities throughout the industry and will hopefully raise awareness to young professionals of the spectrum of jobs available in the aftermarket. Interested parties can check out the current listings and submit a listing of their own at https://hdjobboard.com/.

Our educational committee also recently completed its fourth webinar of the year, an informative discussion regarding Heavy Duty Aftermarket Week (HDAW) 2020 with event co-chairs Sean Ryan (Point Spring & Driveshaft) and Tim Bauer (Eaton). Moderated by TPS Editor Lucas Deal, the December 10 webinar touched on the many exciting changes coming to HDAW as its transitions to a new venue next month.

GenNext members who missed the webinar can download the audio at https://register.gotowebinar.com/recording/5411826322184549387.

As expected, GenNext HD will be incredibly busy at the aftermarket’s biggest event. Many of our member companies are sponsoring students from Northwood University to attend the event as part of the HDAW internship program. Our members also will be on hand during the convention’s many networking events, and the organization will have a booth (#2031) on the exhibition floor.

GenNext’s annual no-limit Hold ‘em poker tournament also is scheduled to take place at the Gaylord Texan during the week. The event is scheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2020, and registration is open now at https://gennexthd.com/poker/.

In other news, GenNext HD has finalized the new dates and keynote speaker for our 2020 Distributor Training Expo. Regarding timing, GenNext has decided to move the DTE from its previous late-April position to Aug. 21-23, 2020, to better accommodate the supplier and distributor communities.

We also are excited to announce Stu Schlackman as our keynote speaker for next year’s event. Schlackman is known for his book and assessment, “Four People You Should Know.” He provides customized training and consulting based on its principles to sales teams by focusing on the skills and strategies that lead to the goal of superior sales results. With more than three decades of experience in corporate sales, Schlackman’s sales training initiatives during his career led his sales teams to exceed sales projections by an average of more than 30 percent annually. He holds a Mechanical Engineering degree from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a Master of Business Administration from Kennedy Western University.

Registration for the 2020 DTE is open now. Early-bird registration rates for aftermarket distributors are $549 per attendee and aftermarket businesses can send up to eight associates. Distributors can register at https://miregistration.net/gncvsndist/#registration. Suppliers will be able to sign up for Gold or Silver sponsorships on our website in early 2020.