• Eclipse Diagnostics UK - The DL S3E19

    Eclipse Diagnostics UK - The DL S3E19 is now available on Apple Podcasts, SoundCloud, IGTV, and YouTube.

    In this episode of The DL, Diesel Laptops’ Founder and CEO, Tyler Robertson, is joined by Richard Parkin - Founder/Managing Director of Eclipse Diagnostics UK, along with Louis Dawson - Area Sales Manager of Eclipse Diagnostics UK.

    Please like, subscribe, and share. If you have questions or would like to learn more about a particular topic, drop a comment and let us know. 

    As always, thank you for watching and listening!

    CONNECT WITH Eclipse Diagnostics UK:

    LinkedInhttps://www.linkedin.com/company/eclipse-automotive-technology-ltd

    Websitehttps://eclipse-tech.co.uk/

    Transcript for Eclipse Diagnostics UK - The DL S3E19:

    Tyler Robertson: 

    Welcome to the DL. I am your host Tyler Robertson. And this is a special episode. I was actually invited over to Europe by one of our suppliers. One of the premier products that we sell, which is Cojali. So they invited us over there to meet with their headquarters, do a tour over there. And then they also brought us around to talk to some of their dealers, because we were really interested to see how does it work outside the US selling commercial truck tools. What challenges do they have? 

    And I think you'll find in this episode that I recorded while I was in the United Kingdom with Eclipse that there's some similarities, but there's also some differences out there. So some of the things  they work on, we just don't even have on our radar at all, like EBS. So you're going to learn some stuff in this episode. Sit back, enjoy, and I think it's made a great episode that you're really going to like.

    Louis Dowson: 

    So Tyler, thank you for joining us. Do you want to start by telling us a little about yourself, about Diesel  Laptops and what you guys do? 

    Tyler Robertson: 

    Well, first I got to say this. I'm first time ever been in the United Kingdom, and to actually go across the  pond and visit a company that does what we do. We're on different continents, and our business model  is really very uniquely the same. 

    Richard: 

    Very similar. 

    Tyler Robertson: 

    Yeah. So I think we've taken a little bit different paths on some things, but at the end of the day, Diesel  Laptops, we consider ourselves and the efficiency company for our customers in the United States. And  we always tell customers, because they're like, "Well, what's that mean?" And we're like, "Hey, we're going to give people great diagnostic tools. We're going to give training, not only on the tools, but how to fix trucks. We're going to give them a call center with diesel techs and IT pros." And the other missing piece of the puzzle for us has always been, we have to have our own repair information and our parts information. Because it's our belief when you're working on something, eventually you need a part to fix it. And we want to make that connection quick as possible For people, instead of the way it works today. 

    Richard: 

    Get it repaired vehicle back on the road, quick as possible. And it's our job really, isn't it? To give customers that information and help them through that process. 

    Tyler Robertson: 

    It is. And there's a lot of headwinds in the United States. There's over 80,000 open jobs for diesel techs.  And our schools put out 10,000 a year. And it's getting worse and worse and worse. And that leads to longer lead times, and trucks breaking down more often because they're not being maintained, and all these things that occur because of that shortage. And we always say, it only gets solved two ways: more diesel technicians and more technology. And I think technology is actually the winning card in this whole thing. It's really hard to go convince people to be diesel technicians in today's world. 

    Louis Dowson: 

    So how did you come about starting Diesel Laptops? What's your background then? Is it engineering? 

    Tyler Robertson: 

    Yeah. So I actually got kicked out of college for bad grades. So my dad was paying for it and I'd go home,  my tail tucked between my legs. You guys actually got to meet my dad. I brought him on this trip over  here to the UK. And ironically, him and his brothers had decided to buy a truck dealership, and they  knew not much about running a truck dealership. So it was a big learning experience. I got involved with  the ground floor on how truck dealerships work and operate. And through the years they ended up  selling that company. I went to work for someone else, got fired from them, went to work for someone  else. 

    I've been inside truck dealerships my whole career. So I always tell people, I had 10 years of paid  training to go figure out this whole truck repair mess that's going on in the United States. And really  that's what really led me to see opportunity. And the opportunity was you just listen to your customers.  And I was with the dealership. 

    Richard: 

    I can't agree more. 

    Tyler Robertson: 

    And customers were saying, "I can't work on my own stuff. Your shop's backlogged for two weeks. This  is horrible. Why is this?" And I'm like, "Man, I think people would buy some diagnostic tools." And they  did. 

    Richard: 

    I think doing what we do is quite difficult, but actually quite easy because as you said, the customer tells  you what they need, tell you where the pain is. It's our job to provide a solution to that pain. 

    Tyler Robertson: 

    And so many people miss that. So many times people just have their product; they're trying to jam it in there. And they don't care what the customer says. They're going on with their sales pitch. And you got  to listen to them. Trust me, you solve their problems, you're going to make money at the end of the day. 

    Richard: 

    And the customer for life actually. 

    Tyler Robertson: 

    You are. You're the hero to them. But you're making them the hero to their customers or their boss. And that's really what it is. You're enabling them to be better at their job.

    Richard: 

    To look good. Yeah, exactly. To be good for their customer. 

    Tyler Robertson: 

    100%. Everything we do is always customer focused. Any time we have a new idea, a new product, a new thing, we always start with, "How does it benefit the person using this?" And then we back into,  "Okay, let's make a thing, let's test it out. Can we sell it? What can we sell it for?" And we go that route.  And I think that's a better way than... A lot of people have technology and they try to jam it into  something. And just say, "Oh, it should work there." It doesn't a lot of times. 

    Richard: 

    It's not the right solution. Exactly. 

    Louis Dowson: 

    So we see how well you're doing in US. Obviously all the hype you guys are making on online, et cetera.  How do you guys approach sales in a huge continent? 

    Tyler Robertson: 

    That was the problem. Honestly, and for the audience, I got a chance to hear how you guys do things.  I'm coming out of this like, "Man, I think we need to try some of the stuff Eclipse is doing." So I think we're going to actually try some of this stuff. I already talked the other execs that are here with me. So  we do a little bit different. United States is huge. Huge square miles. 

    Richard: 

    Absolutely. 

    Tyler Robertson: 

    And we tried to have people go out and visit customers, but man, we can only visit one or two a day.  And we were like, "Man, we're going to have to have hundreds of sales reps around the country to do  this thing." 

    Richard: 

    The logistics just make your method different to the way we do things. 

    Tyler Robertson: 

    It was so tough. Then the other problem was, how am I going to go find a couple hundred sales reps and  train them on diagnostic tools and trucks? This is not going to be an easy task. So our sales manager came to me one day. Actually he was a sales manager at one, he was just my sales guy at the time. And he goes, "Tyler, I got a great idea." He goes, "We are never going to do a demo again. We are never  going to travel to see a customer again. And I think we can sell more of these." I'm like, "Well great. What's your secret sauce here?" 

    Richard: 

    Magic wand.

    Tyler Robertson: 

    Okay, this is against everything that's ever been done in our industry. And he said, Well, first of all," he  goes, "you know diagnostic tools Tyler. I want you to go out there and just do a bunch of videos. Just take your phone out, hook up the truck and just run through the tests and commands on different trucks." So when a customer says, "Does it do a Regen on a Cummins?" I can be like, "It does a Regen on  a Cummins, Mr. Customer. Here's the YouTube video. I don't need to drive out there to show you the tool's going to work." So we did that, made a whole bunch of videos. And ironically our YouTube  channel... And we're in the truck diagnostic space. It's got over 8 million views on people watching these videos. And then we said, "Look, we have a bunch of customers that love us. Let's make a referral list." So if customers ask who else has one? I can be like, "Oh, call any of these guys." 

    Richard: 

    They're all happy. They can be your salesmen. 

    Tyler Robertson: 

    And every single one's like, "Actually the complaint we got was so many customers were calling them.  They were like..." 

    Richard: 

    Can you tone it down? 

    Tyler Robertson: 

    "Can you not give my name to so many people? I love you guys, but it's getting ridiculous." So we did  that. And then the other thing we did, which wasn't done at the time, is we said 30 day money back guarantee, because we were confident in the products and confident in our services. And we just said,  "Hey, if that customer gets it, and they're not happy with it, forcing them to keep it is not going to end  good for either of us." They're going to be online, keyboard warring it, like we talked about earlier, and  bad reviews, and YouTube videos, and the internet today. So we went down that route and it was a big  adjustment for everyone, because everyone got really comfortable doing demos. 

    But it really worked out well for us, because now I could scale. Now I could say, "Okay, this works." And we started hiring people that knew nothing about trucks and nothing about diagnostics,  and within 60 days, 90 days, they were off to the races selling a lot of kits. So it's been a learning experience, and it's been, I think, how we've had to do it. But we also have a really good marketing team that generates literally thousands of sales leads every month. It's just a big country. So we're trying to,  now we're looking at it like, there's certain customers you just can't reach with video and online marketing and pay-per-click and Google shopping. How do we get in front of those customers? So some  of the lessons I learned today, I think we're going to take back to the States. 

    Richard: 

    That's very good. Thank you. 

    Louis Dowson: 

    Well, we have, obviously with us being a small island, we have the obviously benefit of going out and  doing the demonstration. We only have to travel a couple of hours generally. And we also then go back  to the customer to do some onsite handover training. And then we can obviously back them up with technical support and further courses if they need. How do you guys go about approaching training and  technical support? 

    Tyler Robertson: 

    It's been an evolution. What we traditionally do today, as soon as that salesman closes the deal, order gets sent into the production team, we have another team that basically calls that customer and says, "Hey, great. Your kit's going to ship today or tomorrow. Let's schedule you for one of our live sessions."  So we do multiple live training sessions every single week. And these are some of our experienced  trainers that have been there. We also include in the laptop about an hour's worth of on demand  training they can do at anytime. We actually made a little launcher program. So they don't actually click  icons on the desktop. Our launcher shows up and right away it's, "Watch the videos." So we tried to push that on them. And then we opened up training centers. 

    So at first I wanted these training centers, because we thought, I thought, people actually need  help on diagnosing. They don't need help with the tool. They need help like, "How do I do electrical?  How do I do after treatment?" Hydraulics, HVAC, all these other systems. But what I come to find out  was actually some of the most popular courses are actually the software courses, which is surprising.  People are paying me money to come to courses. We're giving it away for free. You just go to these  things. But it's really worked out well. 

    We got training facilities now in Dallas, Chicago, Atlanta, South Carolina. There'll be more  coming up. And I've always said, for me, I don't care to make money on those things. I just want them breaking even. And if I have training centers across the country, people are coming to my training  classes, learning about electrical; they're going to learn about Diesel Laptops, and they're going to call  me when I need something. So I almost view it as a marketing extension more than anything else. 

    Richard: 

    I think we have a luxury in this country, don't we? Of a tighter geography, really. So we can, just the way  we do it. So we travel to our customer to give them a demonstration, eye to eye in front of them. And  then training will again travel them to give them the training onsite. But we are starting to use more and  more so the online connectivity, because I think a human brain can only take so much in over in a  session. But with technical support, where customers call in and they're literally having a mini tutorial  while they're speaking to our guys. It's interesting. Very similar way of doing things. 

    Tyler Robertson: 

    Well, even again, we're on different sides of the pond. The tech support's the same way. We just say,  "Have the heart of a teacher here when people call in." Just don't do it for them. Show them. 

    Richard: 

    Show them how to do it. 

    Tyler Robertson: 

    This is how you run the command. This is where the repair information is. And we do that cause we all want to make them more empowered and be more successful at their jobs. And trust me, I think we  both get plenty of tech support calls. We'd all like to reduce it by at least one every day. 

    Louis Dowson: 

    Absolutely. 

    Richard: 

    So it's our interest that they know. 

    Louis Dowson: 

    Obviously we've seen your podcast and your feeling about the level and industry training or industry standard for diesel techs. We have the same issue over here. How do you feel about there being such a shortage of technicians, and what are you doing to help that? 

    Tyler Robertson: 

    It's a huge problem in the United States. There's so many reasons this happens. I could probably list off a  bunch of them. But at the end of the day, people aren't going into this profession. And I really look at it  like I'm a parent. "Man, I really need to be talking to my kids about the trades." Not everyone needs to  go to a four year degree. And in fact, the United States, we're sitting at almost $2 trillion in student loan  debt. 40% of the students that start school, don't finish. There's just a big mess in the United States  that's getting worse and worse and worse every single year. 

    Richard: 

    I think we're all different. A lot of people have practical skills that they'd be a lot better off using, rather  than sitting in a classroom that you're just not suited for. 

    Tyler Robertson: 

    Do they have the show Dirty Jobs over here in the United Kingdom? 

    Richard: 

    No. 

    Tyler Robertson: 

    Okay. So it's a show in the United States. It was the number one cable television show. There's a  gentleman by the name of Mike Rowe. So he would go do these dirty jobs. He'd go concrete chip out of  a mixer drum, or he'd go take roadkill off the road. But he really became a proponent in the United  States of just talking about this whole skills gap thing. And I think he says it right. It's not that we don't  want people to have education. We want them to have the right education. 

    Richard: 

    That's true. 

    Tyler Robertson: 

    And in the United States, so many people just tell their kids, "Go to a four year." For what? And then you  come up with a four year literary degree. 

    Richard: 

    What a blinkered way of doing things.

    Tyler Robertson: 

    They spend 200 grand to get a $40,000 year job. Well, you could have went to a tech school for six  months, and you'd be making about 80 grand right now. And it's ridiculous that we're at this point in  time. But it's going to get worse before it gets better. But I hate to say this, but it's a huge opportunity  for companies like us, because we're providing the resources and technical services to allow them to be  more efficient at the jobs they're in. 

    Richard: 

    A solution to the problem, really. 

    Louis Dowson: 

    And technicians are more reliant on diagnostics or all these tools to do the job now. You can't do the job  without it. 

    Tyler Robertson: 

    And by the way, your trucks are way more advanced than our trucks in the United States. Ours look like  they're out of the eighties compared to some of the stuff I see with you guys, and the trailers, and  everything goes on here with the EBS. Just the trailers, all the requirement. 

    Richard: 

    Very complex. 

    Tyler Robertson: 

    It's mind blowing how different it is over here. I can't imagine. I say the United States today, I can't  imagine owning an independent shop, having to work on all makes, all models. I got no access to  training, no access to diagnostic tools. No access to all... 

    Richard: 

    It's impossible. 

    Tyler Robertson: 

    Yeah. I think we're both in the same mindset. Let's go help these people. Our industry depends on  companies like us. 

    Louis Dowson: 

    And equally why the training for obviously Diesel Laptops and Eclipse, the training courses, the advanced  courses are so important is, you may know how to pick up this diagnostic tool, plug it into the truck,  "I've got my code. Now what?" I don't know anything about AdBlue systems, EBS. 

    Tyler Robertson: 

    That's the problem we see with Telematics. We're going to give people these tools that show them fault  codes and stuff remotely. At least in the US, when we go talk to fleet managers, they're like, "Well, I  don't know what to do with that." So there's still that missing piece of connecting humans and repair and Telematics. But I go back to what I said earlier: Technology really helps this entire thing. We've just  got to all keep on down that same path to really help improve the industry. 

    Louis Dowson: 

    And technical support for the time zones in the US. How do you guys manage that? 

    Tyler Robertson: 

    We got four time zones. It's a pain. We have 50 people now in a call center. About half of them are  diesel techs, half are IT pros. I'm a truck industry guy. I'm an ex-service manager and parts manager. I  don't know what a software company should look like and what a tech support department should look  like. So we're bringing in the right people, and we keep iterating up, and we keep training and doing  those things. We have a lot of hours. We have staggered hours that people come in. Our Dallas facility,  because it's in a different time zone, we started to staff employees at that facility now as well. I got  employees in Brazil. I got employees in Michigan. I got employees all over the place now that we're just  trying to put up. 

    Richard: 

    I think you're right. And similarly, there's no set way here. There's no program that everybody follows in  our industry. We are pretty much writing that. So we don't follow the story. We have to literally make it  up as we go along, but for the benefit, because we can adapt and change things to suit the problem on  our customers. 

    Tyler Robertson: 

    One of the thoughts I've had is actually trying to convince some of our vendors here, "Let me open up in  Australia." So on the opposite side of the world, I could put a sales center there and tech support. Oh  man. And then hopefully work with Eclipse a little bit. I think we could offer around the globe, 24/7 tech  support if we had the right people and the right locations. 

    Richard: 

    Keep talking. 

    Tyler Robertson: 

    I think it would work though. It won't be that much of investment. We'd have some people there. I think  we could make this thing work. 

    Louis Dowson: 

    I've always wanted to go to Sydney. 

    Tyler Robertson: 

    This is my first time outside of North America, so I'm excited just to be here in Europe.

    Louis Dowson: 

    Okay. If we move on to the actual multi-brand diagnostics as a product, sometimes the perceptions are  a little bit off about what these tools are capable of, what they can do, what they cover. Do you want to  talk us about what that's like in the US dealing with customer perspectives? 

    Tyler Robertson: 

    I feel like I'm watching the same film strip over and over and over again. What I would explain is  automotive. Everyone knows there's multi-brand automotive tools. I can go to my local auto parts store  in my Walmart. 

    Richard: 

    Take your pick. 

    Tyler Robertson: 

    Take your pick. And you can't tell the difference between any of them. Which one's better? I don't  know. In the United States, I would say five years ago is when people started to realize, "Wow, there's  multi-brand tools that do almost everything the dealership tools do with one interface and one box."  And that was mind blowing to people. And that's really where a lot of our business started to take off at  Diesel Laptops. And then I knew nothing about off-highway. I'm a truck guy. Our vendor's like, "Hey, you  should sell some this off-highway." I'm like, "What do I know?" 

    How many cables are there? Where do they plug in? What engine? I knew nothing. So we were  fortunate to have an employee in tech support at the time that worked for an off-highway equipment  dealer. We're like, "Hey, you want to go hook this thing up and connect to some things and see what  happens?" And he went out, and he came back. He's like, "Man, these are some really good tools. I  didn't know these existed." I didn't either. Is this a thing? So I can say now, today at Diesel Laptops,  some of our biggest customers are primarily off-highway customers. And it's a lot of it's been the  equipment rental companies, where they're like, "Hey, we got 4,000 locations, and we need a laptop in  each." And you're like, "Okay, let's talk." 

    Richard: 

    And that's it. And we were saying earlier that probably every other sale is now off-highway. 

    Louis Dowson: 

    In some way or form. 

    Tyler Robertson: 

    More than 50% of our kits on our dealer level tools have off-highway license on them. And we tell repair  shops all the time, "Man, you want to extend your business? You're already working on a diesel  Caterpillar in a truck. It's really not that different than that diesel Caterpillar in that dozer over there."  Using the software and a little bit of help and you can expand your business. 

    Richard: 

    Exactly so. 

    Louis Dowson: 

    All these machines, it seems like they're just a few years behind in catching up with what's on the trucks  anyway now. They all have DPFs. They all have AdBlue. Everybody wants it turned off, but... They all  require force Regen. They all go into limp mode. It's the same issue. 

    Tyler Robertson: 

    Our biggest struggles with Marine, Ag and off-highway is that people don't believe an option exists. They  still have the mindset that only the dealer has this. I can't go anywhere else. Nothing else could possibly  work. 

    Richard: 

    Exactly. 

    Tyler Robertson: 

    But I'm like, "Okay, I saw this with truck. I saw this automotive." It's just, again, the same film strip over  and over again. It just takes time, and educating the audience, and letting them know it happens. And  we want to make sure we're in the front of all that. 

    Richard: 

    Sure. 

    Louis Dowson: 

    Sure. And what I love about the technical support, as a salesman for Eclipse or somebody who supplies  multi-brand diagnostics, we always have that answer if the multi-brand tool that you're using is just  missing that last little piece. 

    Tyler Robertson: 

    Oh, we run across all the time. There's two big problems we run across in the States. One is all the  pirated bootleg software out there. And then the other one we're having out there is just all the  knockoffs and things that are out there. There's some tools out there. I can tell you, when I first started  selling these tools, I started selling the Bosch tool. And I was like, "Oh, this is great. It's going to work."  And we sent it out, and I can tell you, I think I sold 15. I think 14 of them got returned to me. I was like,  "Well, I'm not going to make an upset customer." And I had to swap them out with the right tool in that  case. And they were like, "Cool. This is much better for us." 

    It's not just the tool though. And we keep telling this to customers. Anyone can sell you a tool.  There's a reason we're charging more for our product. I know we do, and I know you guys do too. 

    Louis Dowson: 

    Absolutely. 

    Tyler Robertson: 

    It's because you're going to get world class support. 

    Richard: 

    Absolutely.

    Tyler Robertson: 

    And we are going to take care of you. And those are huge things that people don't realize. 

    Richard: 

    Makes a difference between getting the vehicle back on the road or not. 

    Tyler Robertson: 

    And they don't realize it until they're in that situation and they're like, "Well, who do I call for help?"  There is nobody. Fill out the form, in three days they'll get back to you. 

    Richard: 

    Yeah, that's right. 

    Louis Dowson: 

    My, I suppose, education in the diagnosis industry for the last six or seven years with Eclipse has been  that you can have the best aftermarket tool available, but it's the knowledge of the person using it and  who you're buying it from are the two main points to whether or not this is going to work for you. 

    Tyler Robertson: 

    It 1000% is that way. And I know that lesson. I was telling them a story earlier today when I did my first  multi-brand tool. I couldn't figure it out and I needed help. And once you knew some things, it was no  problem. But it all goes back to the fact that what you guys do is really right. You guys, when you don't  deliver tools, just ship it in the mail. Here you go. You guys are onsite. Here it is. Let's walk you through  how this thing works. And that just sets the tone for them to be like, "Okay, this company has my back." 

    Richard: 

    That's right. We're doing two things. We want a long term customer. We want them to come back again.  We want to start them off right, because it's our reputation as well. We're incentivized for the customer  to understand the product and use it to its best. 

    Tyler Robertson: 

    I think where we lose out on sales is customers look at our tool and be like, "Oh, it's eight, nine, $10,000.  I can go buy this Chinese tool for 3,500 bucks." We lose those sales, but most times those customers come back and are like, "Okay." 

    Louis Dowson: 

    It didn't work. You were right. 

    Tyler Robertson: 

    You were right. 

    Richard: 

    Buy cheap, buy twice.

    Louis Dowson: 

    Yes. Absolutely. 

    Tyler Robertson: 

    There's a particular vendor in the United States that's advertising, "We have this off highway tool and it  works on Bobcat." But we find it only works on Bobcat with some engine they made 20 years ago. But  they don't tell you that. They just say it works on Bobcat. None of the details are there, but it's like that  for every single model they list. Come on guys. You're just lying to customers at this point. You can't do  that to them. You're just going to destroy your reputation. 

    Louis Dowson: 

    That won't last long. You mentioned obviously counterfeit tools and that's something that we have, not  an issue, but it's something that we come up against. People looking for alternatives and, as you said,  mentioning cheaper alternatives. What are the potential risks in the US, in the UK, if you are looking at  counterfeit dealer tools, aftermarket tools? 

    Tyler Robertson: 

    I can't speak about the UK, but I can speak about the United States. First of all, you can go on Craigslist,  Facebook groups, eBay, all these dark websites, and you can go buy. They'll be like, "Oh, fully loaded,  dealer level tool. $2,000." And these guys get them, and they found out a couple things real quick. One:  It's all old versions of software. Two: It doesn't have everything on there it said it did. And the ones that  are on there usually don't work. And usually that seller's long gone about a month later, and so is their  money, and they got an expensive paper weight. 

    So, honestly, the pirated software ends up being a lot of the reasons customers are like, "Okay, I  tried that it didn't work. Let me go backtrack to the company that can actually help me with these  things." So it's a problem in the US. I'm glad some manufacturers, like Patcar, really locked their  software down. They can't do stuff there. 

    Richard: 

    I think a lot of brands now have done this. So it's online connectivity, which just has helped the issue. So  they just can't do what they took. Because there were some counterfeits that would work up to a  certain date. But that date now is so far gone, to do anything serious, you've got to connect them of  course. You just can't acquire the proper product, so multi-brand solution does majority of that  throughout different brands. 

    Tyler Robertson: 

    It does. And I feel bad for these people, because they just don't know. They think they're all 

    Richard: 

    The perception. 

    Tyler Robertson: 

    The perception. I'm saving money. It's the same thing. And a lot of times they talk to me. "Oh yeah, it's  the same thing as what they're selling over at Eclipse."

    Louis Dowson: 

    Sure. And they always come back. They always end up coming back and having to purchase the right solution. I suppose one of the questions we wanted to ask is something I don't know much about, is the differences between the US vehicles and maybe the European vehicles that we are having to work on. And what do you guys, if anything, on technical support get asked about the most? Over here it's always,  "EBS, AdBlue. EBS, AdBlue." What do you guys come up against? 

    Tyler Robertson: 

    We don't have EBS in the United States, so we don't ask that question, but it's always emission related.  It's emission related systems. It's engine related systems and just electrical in general. We have an Electrical 1 class, and these students that come in, we used to give a pre-test, and it was basic. What's Ohm's law? How do you measure the resistant? It was 101 stuff. 80% of the incoming students failed it.  And these were not new technicians. These are guys coming in being like, "I've been doing this for 20  years. I know what I'm doing with a multimeter. They do not. 

    So that's been our big push to them. You need to learn these things, because if you look at the future of where things are going: EVs, robots driving trucks, all these alternative. What do you think that is? That's all these skills you need to learn over here to really be successful in your shop environment.  There's differences over there. I've been in a couple European trucks over here. And I've known this for  a while, you guys are way more advanced. I go in. Man, these are like spaceships compared to some of  the trucks we've got the United States. 

    Richard: 

    Well, it's definitely more complicated and more headache for us, so I think that's the draw. 

    Louis Dowson: 

    One thing I wanted to say is, I don't know if you guys have the same problem, some of the older  generations don't seem to want to learn about the electrics. I'm happy doing what I'm doing. Don't  bother showing me. Sometimes I'll go out to a customer; I'll have five guys there. Four want to look at it,  and there's one or two guys there who, "Look, I'm beyond this. I'm not interested. Just show the other  guys." 

    Tyler Robertson: 

    Well, it's good to know that's not just an American problem, hearing you say that. That's the hard part in  the States. I jokingly call them the No-Hair/Gray-Hairs. There all these guys that have been there for a  while. You know they're retiring. And the fact is, if I was in that situation, I probably wouldn't want to  pick that stuff up either. Let me keep doing my thing. I got three years left on the clock, and I'm out of  here. 

    Richard: 

    But what I've experienced are people who are saying that. "Oh no, I'm too old. I'm retiring soon." And  then the guys that have picked it up and gone with it, and we give them the training, we give them  support, the right tool, and they extend their retirement. They're getting on so well with it, they can just  keep on going. 

    Tyler Robertson:

    There's a couple principles you have to wrap your head around. It's like any other skill. It takes a little bit  of knowledge, and a little bit of training, and a little bit of practicing. And you can get pretty good and  pretty efficient at those things. One of the advanced tools we're really starting to push the United States  is oscilloscope. So in the automotive industry in the US, you can use an oscilloscope to figure out an  engine misfire, an electrical problem, a vibration problem, all these really cool things. And no one in the  United States in the heavy truck industry knows how to use them. 

    Richard: 

    [inaudible 00:26:55] exactly. 

    Tyler Robertson: 

    So we launched these oscilloscope, but we really realized we need to have great training in order for  these things to work. And things were going good there, and then supply chain shortages and chip  shortages. And we're like, "We can give you six oscilloscope in 2022 for your customers." Okay, we'll  figure this out. But there is the opportunity, I think, for people to learn at these classes that both of us  offer. It's never too late to teach in old dog new tricks. 

    Richard: 

    New tricks. Exactly. 

    Tyler Robertson: 

    But you definitely can. They just have to have the right mindset. If they're being forced to do it by their  boss or their employer, they're not going to do it. But the ones that raise their hand and say, "Yeah, I  want to learn this," you can pick it up. 

    Louis Dowson: 

    You mentioned, obviously, electric vehicles. We're close to seeing more and more electric vehicles being  released. I know, Richard, you told me the other day about an electric truck, stuff, projects in Germany  that we were discussing in a previous episode. Question to both, I suppose. How are we preparing for  alternative fuel vehicles, electric vehicles? 

    Tyler Robertson: 

    You want to take that one first? 

    Richard: 

    Yeah, sure. I think certainly the product that we sell are well ahead and covering it, so however it's going  to play out, whichever alternative fuel systems are going to win, then find that it'll be on the software.  There already are systems on there, and there continue to be. But where that's going, who's going to  win, it's an interesting thought at the moment, because you've got electric vehicles, hydrogen, and of  course that old problem of storage of hydrogen. But interesting now to see perhaps the development of  hydrogen on demand, a system that's producing hydrogen as it's using it. Now that's interesting. That  works really, doesn't it? Still combustion engine, because there's only so much raw material to make  batteries. And we've got the, in commercial vehicles, the weight problem that the electric vehicles suffer  with. The heavier it is, the more batteries you need. The more batteries are heavier. See how it's going  to pan out.

    Tyler Robertson: 

    So we got the same, a lot of similar views. In the United States, Nikola, who's a startup (who, by the way,  I think is totally going to fail). But Nicola, they came out there. It's a Nikola truck, but it's really an Iveco  with a Nikola badge on the front. But they came out with theirs, and traditionally in the United States an  over-the-road truck, 18 Wheeler, sleeper, they're clocking in about 16, 17,000 pounds on the high end.  These new ones, these ones from Nikola weigh 30,000 pounds. So they're not as big as sleepers and all  these things. So I think the United States also has the hydrogen distribution problem, where we're just  so big. You got to put a lot of stops in. We don't even have an EV grid that can get you the fueling  stations today. And EVs, Tesla's been trying to bang this out for a decade now. 

    So I think it's going to be a while before the EVs come out there. I will say Navistar International  Truck and Engine, they invited me to their EV center up in Michigan a couple months ago, so we went up  there. I can tell people, I was actually surprised. I thought when you opened the hood, there'd be  nothing there. It was full. Why do you guys have stuff up here? What's going on? And there was this  other big contraption bolted to the side of it. I'm like, "What is going on?" He's like, "Well, we got to  have a thermal cooling unit to keep things cool. We still have a radiator. We still got HVAC. And now we  have to have a different type of air compressor, that's electronic because we don't have an engine to  mount it to." 

    There's all these things. The engine's gone, but there is a huge opportunity still that's going to  exist there. 

    Richard: 

    Okay. 

    Tyler Robertson: 

    It's just going to be, at least in the US, when a new truck comes out, they're given anywhere from a  three year to five year bumper to bumper warranty on it and saying don't bring it anywhere. But I think  you're still going to see it in collision shops. I think the tow truck guys are going to have to figure out  how to deal with EVs. Emergency responders. You get an EV truck flipped on its side. Can I use the jaws  of life? Am I going to kill myself? There's a lot to this beyond just, "Hey, diesel's gone, battery's in." And  there's going to be a huge opportunity for everybody. 

    Richard: 

    Exactly so. 

    Louis Dowson: 

    How do you think this will change the heavy duty diagnostics industry? 

    Tyler Robertson: 

    Okay, this is a little far fetched, but I think... Let's say EV takes off, and we have all these EV charging  stations all over. Well, I don't think what people realize is all these EV charging stations are mini  computers. They got capacitors. They got ECMs. They got all these things. Well, who makes diagnostic  tools and support these things? 

    Richard:

    Exactly. 

    Tyler Robertson: 

    I look at them like, "Man, I think we're not going to be diagnosing the trucks, but all these fueling  stations all over the place as well or charging stations." So I look at it as a huge opportunity. The big one  I talk about a lot of time too is robots driving trucks. More sensors, radar, more wires. 

    Richard: 

    Absolutely. Systems. 

    Tyler Robertson: 

    More system. More ECMs. This is right up our alley. 

    Richard: 

    Of course it is. People are saying, "What are you going to do when the combustion engine goes?" Well,  actually, well great, because there are so many more systems on future vehicles. 

    Tyler Robertson: 

    I think we'll both be gone to dust before all the diesel engines are gone. When you talk about off highway stuff, you talk about bus, you talk about all these other things. It's going to be a hot minute.  Even if people believe that it doesn't need diagnostics anymore, which they totally do. They probably  need more. It's a good time. 

    Richard: 

    The interesting thing is there are companies box-ticking now in having, say, electric off-highway vehicles.  And then we go to places, there's no power. They're charging them with a diesel generator. Seriously,  just because they tick a box to say we've got electric vehicles. 

    Tyler Robertson: 

    Oh, it is going to take so long to put, at least in the US, just to put in the charging stations themselves is a  monumental task that our government is throwing billions at. And then on top of that, we got to have  an infrastructure to actually make enough power to power all these things. 

    Richard: 

    Where's the power coming from? 

    Tyler Robertson: 

    There's just so much things to work out here. And I know, again, in the US, state governments and  federal governments are throwing just billions of dollars and trying to mandate no more diesel engines  by this year and all these things. 

    Richard: 

    Somebody hasn't thought it through.

    Tyler Robertson: 

    No. I remember, in our case, when it was Barack Obama, '08 or something. He came out and said, "Oh,  we're going to do a thing by this year. All things will be EV." I think that day has already come and gone.  They always have high ambitions. Hey, I want clean air. I think we all do. I like the fact that we have  cleaner air now than we do today. But the US is still the second largest polluter in the US. We're only  behind China. So we still have a long ways to go to help this whole thing, but progress is being made. 

    Louis Dowson: 

    We have a similar target in the UK, don't we? Is it 2040, no more diesel engine cars? 

    Richard: 

    It's before that actually. 2030. 

    Louis Dowson: 

    Okay. There you go. 

    Tyler Robertson: 

    I think California is 2035 or something like that. 

    Richard: 

    You only think that because it's so unbelievable, really. That's where you've got it wrong. 

    Louis Dowson: 

    We're going to have to backtrack. 

    Tyler Robertson: 

    In California, for the truck manufacturers, they have a sliding scale. So next year, for every nine diesels,  they have to sell one EV. And the next year, it has to be eight to two. They're forcing them to do it.  People keep saying it ain't going to happen. Government, at least in the United States, is going to make  it happen. There is no doubt, they're going to keep throwing money at it. 

    Louis Dowson: 

    Begs the question. If you take all the other issues with electric vehicles away in supporting electric  vehicles, training, if we're already struggling and all of these technicians are struggling with, one: there's  a shortage of technicians. Two: they're struggling with training with it. What happens when it all goes  electrical? If it all goes electrical, how on earth are you going to keep up with that? 

    Tyler Robertson: 

    They need to understand high voltage. They need to understand what can kill them and what can't. They  need to understand how to be safe on these things. There's new tools you need. You got to be proper  glove. There's things they're going to have to learn, and I think every EV manufacturer that we talked to,  we talked to a bunch, because they're all going to need help with support networks and diagnostic tools.  There are these small startups. What do I do if I'm in California at my headquarters, and my truck's in  New York City, how do I help that customer fix his thing without towing it all the way back to California?

    So they're starting to think through these things and try to understand what they can do. Tons  of opportunity out there. We just keep telling people today, get really good electrical and also get really  good at after treatment. Those are going to be around for a long time. But that's the key for your  business to succeeding. If you want to keep passing this thing to the next person and having business. 

    Louis Dowson: 

    Brilliant. Well, thank you very much guys. Well, thank you for Tyler for joining us firstly. 

    Richard: 

    Thanks for coming to see us all this way. It's been really good to meet you. And let's keep working  together. 

    Tyler Robertson: 

    I feel like I found my brother across the ocean that I never knew I had. This has been great. It's been  great here. You guys have been very hospitable. 

    Richard: 

    Great. 

    Tyler Robertson: 

    Loved seeing everything. 

    Richard: 

    Really good for you to come over and see us. 

    Tyler Robertson: 

    Hey, if you ever get to the United States, love to have you swing by. 

    Richard: 

    Oh, go on then. 

    Tyler Robertson: 

    All right. Thank you guys. 

    Louis Dowson: 

    Do you have a nice little trip planned, I think? 

    Tyler Robertson: 

    Probably. I'm finally at the point in my company where I felt like I had to be there 24/7, because we had so many employees. We were growing so fast. Now I've brought in great employees. We got strategic plans. I feel like a grown up company now. I can take a week off, and things are going to be okay. I could not say that two years ago. 

    Richard:

    No, exactly. 

    Tyler Robertson: 

    I think it was good to travel. 

    Louis Dowson: 

    Both at similar dates. 

    Tyler Robertson: 

    [crosstalk 00:35:57]. It's really sounding good, isn't it? 

    Louis Dowson: 

    Well, thank you very much for joining. Thank you. 

    Tyler Robertson: 

    Yeah. Thank you very much. 

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