Newsletter

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.

 

 



Organizational Update

Organizational Update

Organizational Update

GenNext’s second quarter was defined by COVID-19.

We were forced to delay our announcement of the 4 Under 40 Award winners when the 2020 Commercial Vehicle Solutions Network’s (CVSN) Aftermarket Distribution Summit was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Originally scheduled for this month, CVSN has moved its next Summit to June 2021. GenNext intends to announce its 2020 and 2021 4 Under 40 Award winners at next year’s event.

GenNext also was forced to postpone our 2020 Distributor Training Expo (DTE) to 2021 due to the virus. This year’s event was moved from its normal April position to August during planning and will hopefully be held again in August 2021.

Additionally, with the HDA Truck Pride Annual Meeting and VIPAR Heavy Duty IMPACT Conference being held virtually in August and October, respectively, GenNext may be unable to hold an on-site mixer or industry panel this year. Despite these setbacks, GenNext remains committed to bringing these events back in 2021 when the aftermarket is again able to hold its annual conferences and meetings.

In the meantime, GenNext hopes to schedule educational webinars for its members during the second half of the year and continue enhancing its social media presence. To suggest a topic for a future GenNext webinar, or to become more active in the organization, please contact info@gennexthd.com.

 



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.