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Distributor Highlight

Distributor Highlight

Distributor Highlight

Getting to know Vander Haag’s

John Vander Haag, president at Vander Haag’s

Please briefly describe the history of your company.

Our business began in 1939 in Sanborn, Iowa, recycling old cars and selling parts from them. John C. Vander Haag Jr. returned from Korea in 1955 and began dismantling later model wrecked automobiles for quality recycled automobile parts. Starting in the 1980’s we added medium- and heavy-duty recycled truck parts to our operations and then during the 1990s added new and rebuilt parts to our growing inventory. It was also in the early 1990s that we ceased selling automobile parts and also added service departments to our three operations. Currently our operation has grown to seven locations, with our eighth location scheduled to open near Columbus, Ohio, in the summer of 2020.

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

Our distribution structure is primarily direct with the customer, which is mainly driven by our recycled parts supply. We are an independent dealer, distributor and service facility that sells basically every part on a truck. We sell crash parts, drivetrain components, all the way down to the suspension. As part of HDA Truck Pride we handle many vendors. We source parts from the OEM and the aftermarket channels. With the broad geographic areas we cover, we have many unique and specific types of customers. In some of our locations a large segment of our customers are connected to agriculture, while our other locations are connected to the construction and transportation markets. Our customers cover a wide range of repair shops, small to medium sized fleets, down to owner operators.

What separates your business from competitors in its marketplace?

Our quality recycled truck parts provide us a unique position in the market by providing an extremely broad coverage and types of parts. When we part out a truck for used parts, you basically have every part available a customer could need. Connected to our service facilities we also offer installation of these parts. Almost all our new, rebuilt and used parts are available to be searched and purchased through our website. We go to great lengths to capture clear and accurate descriptions and photos of the used parts online.

How do you believe customers perceive your business?

We hope our customers perceive value in the quality we strive to provide in our used parts. We are not known to be the least expensive, but we try extremely hard to offer the highest quality and stand behind our parts. We feel customers appreciate our how many ways we can be their one stop shop. From parts, to trucks, to service and beyond!

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

One of the biggest reasons is because of our team members. The quality of our process is based on the people we have buying, dismantling, inspecting, selling and delivering every day. The relationships built between our customers and our team are why customers keep returning.

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)

  • We have a little over 60 active stocking vendors for our replenishable parts..
  • We have over 75 service bays company wide.
  • We dismantle almost 2,000 heavy-duty parts units per year.
  • We utilize over 200 acres for storing dismantled parts units.
  • We upload over 1,400 photos every day to help describe our recycled parts.

What makes your business a great place to work?

The camaraderie between all of our departments and locations is a testament to the desire our team members have to make our business a great place to work. With multiple locations we are continually looking for ways to engage our team members and their family members through Christmas parties, social functions like pheasant hunting or fishing trips, and family vacations at the lake condo. In addition to how we interact with each other, we also strive to provide a safe and rewarding workplace.

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

The life of our business depends on the next generation(s). My motto is to look at business, and life, in ten-year intervals. We are intentional about filling the pipeline of leaders in our business so we have people starting, growing and stepping up to lead. Creating the expectation and stepping back encourages young leaders to be bold. There is no single answer to recruiting, so we try and think about multiple channels at the same time. Supporting our industry associations is a significant responsibility and allows our industry to work together to promote ourselves/industry to the younger generation. We are looking to technical schools as well as traditional colleges to find motivated and inspired individuals.

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

First by adding younger workers, and then by investing in education. We are setting up training curriculum for our service technicians and setting up training programs for our parts department. Second, we have embraced technology and are all-in with staying ahead of the curve relating to it. Third, our service capability keeps us relevant in each of our markets and makes us smarter at selling parts nationally where we do not have a presence for installation/service.

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

Be curious. Ask Questions. Understand what the customers need and be willing to change with them. The market is a powerful force, it can propel you fast and far if you are going the same direction. Understand how the parts work, do not be afraid to get dirty!

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

As a family-owned company, I anticipate finding a way for the next generation(s) to participate and potentially lead us forward. Along the way we will be seeking leaders to step up and help interpret and conquer the opportunities we encounter. Service will be key and we are taking steps in our education to be at the front of new technologies.

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

We joined GenNext for a number of reasons. The first one was for the education opportunities that are available with the Distributor Training Expo. Our team members come back with a lot of takeaways from it every year. We have also sent our up and coming leaders to the “Leaders of Tomorrow” reception at HDAW to allow them to network with other young leaders about the opportunities in the heavy-duty aftermarket.

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

One pivotal moment was when we purchased one of our locations (1992) and my father left the country for four weeks. I was 23 years of age and found out quickly what I did NOT know. I recognized that it was okay to admit I was learning, but I also learned I had to make decisions and move forward.  Second, we have had a building destroyed by a fire (2003) and an entire facility threatened by a flood (2011), to name a couple disasters. During these times I learned, or was reminded, how strong our team was and how important it is to focus on our biggest asset every day so we are ready for the tough times.

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

Working in a family business, my father, John C. Vander Haag Jr., has had a significant impact on me. I was able to work side by side with him for many years, but at the same time he encouraged me to push ahead, be independent and grow our business in a professional and ethical manner. He frequently recognizes the importance of associations and working together as the industry. Dave Scheer of Inland Truck Parts has been an influence for me as an example of an industry champion. His tireless promotion of our industry and desire to advocate on our behalf is world class!



Organizational Update

Organizational Update

Organizational Update

The Commercial Vehicle Solutions Network (CVSN) and GenNext board of directors have announced a partnership agreement with HDA Truck Pride and the VIPAR Heavy Duty Family of Companies.

The agreement allows the members of HDA Truck Pride, VIPAR Heavy Duty and Power Heavy Duty to become associate members of CVSN. The three groups represent more than 400 member companies, with more than 1,700 parts and service locations and close to $4 billion in parts and service at the final point of sale.

CVSN says this is a critical step to supporting the independent heavy-duty aftermarket by strengthening training and recruitment initiatives and building critical mass to continue fights in Washington, D.C., for legislation that benefits the independent aftermarket on technology (data standards, EDI) and heavy-duty access to information and right to repair issues such as Magnusson Moss and vehicle telematics.

As CVSN works to become the industry voice, the independent aftermarket community will become stronger than ever.

“I am beyond excited about this expanded partnership between our three organizations,” says Sean Ryan, CVSN president of Point Spring & Driveshaft. “The increased membership base gives CVSN the ability to continue to advocate fiercely on behalf of the commercial vehicle aftermarket distribution network in North America.”

The membership strategy allows both Tina Hubbard, president and CEO, HDA Truck Pride, and Chris Baer, president and CEO, VIPAR Heavy Duty, to have seats on CVSN’s board of directors.

“By partnering with CVSN on this membership initiative, we’re reinforcing the advocacy for the independent aftermarket,” says Hubbard. “Our members have much to gain from each other, and other CVSN members. CVSN’s focus on training, recruitment and legislation aligns with HDA Truck Pride’s strategic plan and long-term goals. It’s a critical step as we work together as one commercial vehicle industry.”

“The VIPAR Heavy Duty Family of Companies and our distributors within their local markets are leaders in our industry, and we need to continually step forward to serve and ensure progressive change,” adds Baer. “This partnership demonstrates our commitment to that belief in support of a strong independent aftermarket which is essential to the success of all stakeholders.”

Adds Ryan, “With Tina and Chris joining our board, they will have direct access into shaping the future of our organization and can provide us tremendous insight and experience. I am humbled and honored to have been able to help play a small part in this.”



Supplier Highlight

Supplier Highlight

Supplier Highlight

Getting to know Velvac

Herb Brown, manager, Aftermarket sales and marketing at Velvac

Please briefly describe the history of your company.

Velvac is an 86-yea-old company that started with the manufacture of vacuum brakes. The original name of the company was The Vacuum Power Equipment Company.  We became Velvac in 1940 to align with the new product the Velvet Vacuum Brake.  Velvac began manufacturing mirrors for truck OEs in the 1950s as a Tier-1 manufacturer. Velvac is owned by Eastern Corporation.

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

Velvac is a three-tiered company. We supply parts to the medium- and heavy-duty truck aftermarket, medium- and heavy-duty OE and OE recreational vehicle markets. The two OE segments are served by internal sales teams. The aftermarket business is supported by a director of sales and marketing, national sales manager, sales support analyst, product manager and marketing manager, as well as 53+ independent representatives.  Our OE customers include all the large truck OEMs, Ford, GM, Trailer OEMs and almost all RV Manufacturers. In the aftermarket we serve all market: buying groups, national accounts, independent WDs, truck and trailer dealers, truck body upfitters and government suppliers. We have over 4,500 SKUs in inventory, with line item fill rates of over 95 percent in 24 hours. We ship from four warehouses, New Berlin, Wis. (corporate), Dallas, Anaheim and Ontario.

What separates your business from competitors in its marketplace?  

Our mix of product with brake systems being coupled with mirrors and one of the largest offerings of air cylinders and valves to actuate those cylinders.  We are also supported by an engineering staff of 17 engineers, which is probably something most people don’t know.

How do you believe customers perceive your business? 

I believe customers find us to be a company that is easy to do business with due to our fill rates and turnaround time.  We have excellent quality products with warranty rates around 0.5 percent (not 5 percent but 0.5 percent).  Having 4,500+ SKUs in the offering makes it easy to place orders.

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

Same reasons stated above.

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) 

Many of the aftermarket customers don’t know we are a tier one supplier to the truck OEMs or RV OEs.  We are IATF 16949 and ISO 14001 certified, with 17 engineers in New Berlin.

What makes your company a great place to work?  

Culture!  Jeff Porter the president and CEO of Velvac empowers his staff to drive change and improvement.

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

It is essential to get younger people in this industry. Look around at the cocktail hours at any of our events and you will see lots of grey hair/no hair people. What needs to be emphasized to new people entering this industry is that the general culture is enjoyable. You will make many lifelong friends all across the country if you stay with it.

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

Velvac is poised to change with the times because we are situated at a perfect size. Small enough to be flexible but large enough to have the support to make the changes needed.

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

Don’t worry about the fact that truck parts are not “sexy”!  Embrace your business with a passion, learn all you can and you will succeed!

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

My former product manager was in GenNext.  I have a new sales support analyst that I will have join GenNext.  We need to keep getting more young blood in the business.

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

  • My first job in the industry was as an independent rep. You learn a lot about multiple products in that job.
  • My first corporate position was at Tramec Corporation. There I learned more about air brake systems than I have learned since.
  • Moving to Velvac and working for Jeff. I went from being in a sales position where my only job was to sell, to a position where it is my job to work on helping my company progress in who/what we want to be in the industry.

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

Too Many to list!  Doug Thompson (Sloan), Toby Harris (CVG), John Minor (Midwest Wheel), Armond Sikes (AA Wheel), Dave Settles (Weldon Parts) and of course my current boss, Jeff Porter (Velvac).

 

 



Distributor Highlight

Distributor Highlight

Distributor Highlight

Getting to know Blaine Brothers

Dean Dally, president at Blaine Brothers

Please briefly describe the history of your company.

The company was started by brothers, Fred and Rick Dally in 1979 using a 1969 Ford pickup truck as their on-site service truck. They did minor truck and trailer repair for the company that Fred drove truck for. They continued to provide on-site work but in late 1979 they rented a small two-bay shop located in Blaine, Minn. While always working hard for existing customers they also spent time looking for new ones. Companies like Dohrn Transfer, P.I.E., Lee-Way and Trans-Con were all early customers that are no longer in business. Blaine Brothers survived all of the changes in the industry at the time thru sheer determination and hard work. Today, 41 years later, we are comprised of four different business units, Blaine Brothers, Blaine Brothers TruckAline, North American Trailer and Hydraulic Specialty and still are family owned and operated.

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

Blaine Brothers and North American Trailer sell medium- to heavy-duty truck and trailer parts to many of the fleets in our markets areas, as well as to other repair shops. We have many long-term supplier relationships with Aurora and HDA Truck Pride being two of the largest. Hydraulic Specialty provides everything from parts sales to truck mounted fluid power to cylinder manufacturing and engineering.

What separates your business from competitors in its marketplace?

We are the only heavy truck and trailer repair facilities in the area to offer 24/7 365 service, over 30 fully equipped road service trucks, eight heavy duty tow trucks, retail parts and complete shop services with over 100 service bays between our locations in North Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin. We are blessed with a team of very talented and knowledgeable individuals that are committed to go the extra mile for our customers.

How do you believe customers perceive your business?

Our goal is for the customers to view us as the trusted professionals that serve the transportation industry.

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

This question should be answered by our customers but my hope is that, although we are not the least expensive service provider in the area, we do provide real value to them in keeping their equipment safe and in-service and that their drivers also are confident with the work that we do. Our parts people, both in and outside sales, are some of the most knowledgeable in the industry with tremendous resources within our organization and thru our suppliers.  We are here to serve the transportation industry.

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)

My uncle fired me back in 1983. As for impression, our overall business and how we have grown staying under the radar of most.

What makes your business a great place to work?

We take a work hard play hard approach to life. We stress the fact that not any one of us can do it alone and it takes all of us as a team to accomplish our goals.

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

It is extremely important to bring younger people into our industry. Our HR department has developed relationships with the tech schools, high schools and now even the junior high schools. We invite them into our facilities to show them the professionalism and cleanliness of today’s modern shop facilities.

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

Yes, as a group we work hard to stay informed and ready to adapt to changes in the industry. From alternative fuels training to in house training on proper wreck repair on trailers, our technicians and parts personnel are continually being offered training courses. We recently launched our B2B E-Comm site with the B2C coming very soon. I personally do not shop this way so it was quite strange for me to see the effort needed to have a successful launch of this, but our people made it happen and we are quite pleased with the results.

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

I say this all the time and our guys probably get sick of hearing it, we may not be looked at as a glamorous industry but transportation is a constant. This is an industry that can provide a very stable and lucrative career if the effort is put in. Even with all of the advancements going on today, I don’t see industry going away anytime soon.

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

My personal goals for our companies are they provide for great opportunities for the next generation that is in the process of taking over now. We are not looking to be sold.

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

To stay closely involved with new people coming into the industry and to share past history and knowledge while listening to the thoughts and ideas of others.

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

  • I am not a capable technician but in 1984 I offered to be the truck shop supervisor. I made many mistakes but grew and learned from every one of them. Over time I learned to trust and work with others, I definitely could not do it all. I had to build a team.
  • When the local banker was crazy enough to lend me a lot of money to buy out my dad’s remaining interest of the company. At the time it was only Blaine Brothers and we have made four acquisitions since then.

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

In the earlier years, other than our customers, we were kind of on our own island. I learned certain things from my dad, many things to do and other things that I thought were not wise to do. Since then we have been fortunate to meet many within our industry and thru HDA Truck Pride.  John Minor, Don Reimondo have been two of the guys who have shared so much information on our retail parts sales.