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Distributor Highlight

Distributor Highlight

Getting to know Parts for Trucks

Corey Miller, president at Parts for Trucks

Please briefly describe the history of your business.

Founded by Harry Richard and Harold Spencer in 1919 as Scotia Equipment, the company began as a supplier and service station for motor vehicles and by the late 1930s transitioned exclusively to trucks. The business was owned by brothers Andy and Paul Raymond, until 2017, when they sold the company to another set of brothers, Corey and Brett Miller. Not only did Parts for Trucks celebrate the milestone of 100 years in business in 2019, but recently expanded outside of Atlantic Canada, with two locations in Ottawa and one in Gatineau. Headquartered in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Parts for Trucks is one of the largest service providers and parts distributors for heavy-duty trucks and trailers in Canada.

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

Parts for Trucks it is a heavy-duty parts distributor and service provider for trucks and trailers based in Halifax NS Canada. We operate 19 warehouses and six service facilities through Eastern Canada’s six provinces.

What separates your business from competitors in its marketplace?

Through our service network, Trucklane (trucklanehd.com), our service offerings extend to 22 locations across eastern Canada with over 150 mechanics and 130 service bays. We have extensive coverage in our market areas providing same-day delivery to almost any point within Atlantic Canada and eastern Ontario.

How do you believe customers perceive your business?

Our customers know we carry top quality products and that they can rely on our expertise to ensure they are getting the right part for the job. We know how crucial it is for our customers to keep their vehicles running in an efficient and timely manner, so our complete end-to-end services, same or next day delivery options, nationally recognized brand names, expert knowledge and competitive prices ensure this is always the case. All those things steer our customers back to us every day.

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

Our company’s DNA is built around a customer-centric focus. We are there for our customers no matter what time of day or weather. We offer 24-hour parts and service availability throughout our network to ensure our customers are never stranded.

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)

Since 1919 the business has been owned by three families, the Spencer family, the Raymond family and now the Miller family. The founder of our company, Harold Spencer was one of the first people in Nova Scotia to own an automobile, a car purchased in 1912.

What makes your business a great place to work?

We’re a family-owned business and our employees know they are important to our success.  We have a well-established service recognition program, and it’s with some frequency that we celebrate double-digit years of service for employees. And Parts for Trucks seems to be a hidden gem, a place where people can find their niche. We offer several career paths that don’t require a degree. If you’re willing to pull up your sleeves and work hard to learn the heavy-duty aftermarket business, there are opportunities for growth within the company.

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

Like many businesses in the industrial sector today, Parts for Trucks needs to work harder to attract talented young individuals into our industry. We believe the key is providing on the job training and progressive job roles to continually challenge and develop our team.

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

The heavy-duty truck industry is a wonderfully challenging and fulfilling area to build a career. Be eager to try new things and talk to your manager or supervisor about how you can apply your individual talents to make your company a better place.

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

We experienced several retirements in recent years that prompted us to take a closer look at how well we were developing the next group of leaders in the company. The GenNext program came to our attention and presented a great avenue for some of our developing employees to take steps towards the next level, and to do it within a familiar context. Potential leaders who have grown up with the industry are quicker to adapt to this type of support. We’re fortunate to have this resource as part of our employee development program.



Supplier Highlight

Supplier Highlight

Getting to know Minimizer

Steve Hansen, director of marketing at Minimizer

Please briefly describe the history of your company.

Minimizer has a pretty cool story.  We were started in 1984 by a truck driver, Dick Kruckeberg. He hauled machinery for Caterpillar and they required fenders so that rocks wouldn’t damage the equipment. He had just installed a new set of stainless steel fenders and when the forklift operator was unloading his trailer he slammed into the fenders. They were ruined. A few days later, Dick witnessed his wife back over their Rubbermaid garbage can and the dents popped right out.  That gave him the idea for a poly fender. It took him years to develop and eventually he sold his truck and started making fenders full time in 1984.

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

Minimizer sells strictly through distribution. We’re a bit different in that we advertise directly to the end user and then funnel that sale through our distribution network.  We have 12 territory managers, two regional managers six customer service reps and four inside sales reps. It’s a strong team and we keep them very busy. Its no secret that we market our company and our products heavily and that marketing effort drives leads and sales.

How do you believe customers perceive your business?

Minimizer is a well-respected company with high marks from customers. We have more than 1,000 Google-certified reviews online and our average star rating is 4.5 out of 5 stars. I remember signing up for this program (TrustPilot) and it’s an annual agreement. I asked our rep, “What if we don’t get good reviews?” and he replied, “Wouldn’t you want to know that?” It was a good point. In fact, we have discovered some issues due to poor reviews and it’s allowed us to rectify them when we might have never known about it. All told though, over 85 percent of our customers give 5-star reviews.

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

Our customers are loyal to us because we’re loyal to them. We respect our distributor partners and also our end user customers that buy through the distribution channel. We have a full support team in-place to take care of whatever they need.  We go above and beyond to help distributors sell more and drive traffic to their stores.

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)

The original company name was Spray Control Systems, Inc. because the fender controlled the spray off the tires.  The name of the fender was the Minimizer because it minimizes spray, weight and expense.  Most people really just knew us as Minimizer though and eventually, the company became dba Minimizer and in 2018 changed the name to Minimizer.

What makes your company a great place to work?

The people of course! We really do have a great team. Meetings are fun and work is a great place to be when it’s fun. I’d like to think our customers have fun with us too and it drives business for us.

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

Minimizer has grown substantially since I started here back in 2003. We had 11 employees when I started! I’ve seen a lot of growth and it’s all very dependent on quality employees. Recruiting is difficult for us in a small community. We work hard on our corporate image locally with charity work and staying involved in the community. We want young people to see us as a desirable place to work. We know that when we take care of our employees, they are in a better place to take care of our customers.

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

It’s a great industry ripe with opportunities for people willing to work hard. I’m sure all industries are changing and evolving rapidly and trucking is no different. Find a company and work hard. I also strongly encourage people to raise their hand and get involved. It’s a big industry but very connected. You’ll make a name for yourself and it opens a lot of doors.

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

GenNext was very well supported by Minimizer’s owner at the time (Craig Kruckeberg) who has a passion for giving back to the industry. Craig pushed me to get more involved and he supported GenNext financially with Minimizer’s legal team, web developers and marketing team. This is what helped launch GenNext.

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

Changing Minimizer from a direct sales model to selling through distribution back in 2006. I had a meeting with John Minor (Midwest Wheel) and a follow up meeting with Steve Stich (Wheelco). Both were brutally honest about Minimizer’s go-to-market strategy and the shortcomings. From there, I worked with our CEO to update our sales approach and we pulled all retail-direct sales and built a distribution network. Both Midwest Wheel and Wheelco are still top customers today.

Accepting a position on the CVSN Board of Directors back in 2014. It’s an incredible team of people and I learned a lot about distribution and the industry. I’m still very connected with the CVSN board and I’m always reaching out to them for advice.

Taking the inaugural role of president of GenNext and developing DTE. Launching GenNext was a lot of work. We literally started from scratch (a bar napkin to be exact). We needed a logo, 501C(6) non-profit status, a website, etc. We built everything from the ground up. It’s fun to see this running now. Same with DTE. This show format was unheard of but needed in our industry. This allows suppliers to meet with distributor salespeople for product training. It’s fun to see DTE thrive now for five straight years.



Organizational Update

Organizational Update

GenNext has been busy early in 2020 with its participation at Heavy Duty Aftermarket Week (HDAW) in January and its preparations for the 2020 GenNext and Commercial Vehicle Solutions Network (CVSN) Distributor Training Expo and upcoming first quarter webinar.

GenNext’s opening webinar of the year will be held at 11 a.m. ET on March 25. The free 30-minute webinar will be led by Dinex North American Sales Manager Sebastian Houde. GenNext says Houde’s presentation will help attendees better understand the functionality of aftertreatment systems and offer troubleshooting tips for diesel particulate filters (DPF), diesel oxidation catalysts (DOC) and selective catalytic reduction (SCR) technologies.

“Registering and attending one of the GenNext webinars, such as the upcoming session provided by Dinex, provides upcoming industry leaders easy access to learn more about a specific topic relevant to the commercial vehicle aftermarket,” says Meritor’s Justine Scriptunas, who also serves as GenNext’s education chair. “GenNext strives to provide pertinent content so that we can continue learning and support on-going career development.”

GenNext is also soliciting suggestions for future educational webinars and says all aftermarket professionals are welcome to suggest a topic to the organization’s Education committee that could be covered in future quarters. Potential ideas can be sent to info@gennexthd.com or justine.scriptunas@meritor.com.

Additionally, registration is now open for DTE, which will be held Aug. 21-23, 2020, in Atlanta. Interested suppliers and distributors can learn more and sign up at https://gennexthd.com/gennext-cvsn-distributor-training-expo/.



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.