Empowering Repair Shops - The DL S3E03
In this episode of The DL, Diesel Laptops’ Founder and CEO, Tyler Robertson, is joined by Nate Breunig, the Director of Sales and Marketing at Alliant Power, a Diesel Forward brand, during a HDAW live interview for The Heavy-Duty Parts Report, Episode 151. Together they discuss supply chain shortages, the process for repair shops finding parts, and what solutions are out there that make it easier. And Nate and Tyler talk about conjoining virtual expos to form the Virtual Diesel Expo, May 17-19, 2022.
As always thank you for watching and listening!
For the full transcript, continue reading.
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Transcript for Empowering Repair Shops - The DL S3E3:
Tyler Robertson: Welcome to The DL. I am your host, Tyler Robertson, and this is going to be a little bit of a special and different episode. I was recently at Heavy Duty Aftermarket Week in Texas and another person that we work really closely with is Jamie Irvine of The Heavy-Duty Parts Report.
Unfortunately, he wasn't able to make the event, but he already had a podcast booth set up on the floor of the trade show. And I said, "No problem, Jamie. You can't make it, I'll do [00:00:30] your show for you as long as we get to use the content as well on our platform." So this is a little bit of a crossover episode with The Heavy-Duty Parts Report. So sit back, enjoy, and thank you for listening.
Hello everyone. We are here at Heavy Duty Aftermarket Week in Grapevine, Texas. Normally, Jamie Irvine is your host. This is his podcast show, but unfortunately due to COVID restrictions and everything going on, coming into Canada and quarantines, I'm your host. I'm Tyler Robertson. I've actually been on the show several times. [00:01:00] I'm your guest host for these next couple episodes and I'm really looking forward to it.
I know you can't see it here if you're not on the YouTube portion, the video portion, but we are on the trade floor in this booth at HDAW. It's been a great thing going on here. So I'm super excited to do this. And we brought a guest in here today. I have Nate, who's the director of sales and marketing at Alliant Power, a Diesel Forward brand. Nate, is this your first podcast? And by the way, welcome to the show.
Nate: Well, Tyler, thanks for having [00:01:30] me on today. And yes, this is my first podcast. So different doing it in front of a show right now where we got all the background noise. But hey [crosstalk 00:01:38].
Tyler Robertson: Not like in your first one with a bunch of people and windows, this is a pretty cool setup. So I'm really excited about this. And by the way, I've always been confused with the whole Alliant brand Diesel Forward thing. It sounds like it's clarifying that message a little bit too on Alliant brand.
Nate: To clarify on that Tyler, Diesel Forward is the actual company where Alliant Power [00:02:00] is a brand. It's a brand of products. Started out mainly for light duty, but we're now branched into medium and heavy duty. And of course, bringing the other OE brands when you think of Bosch, Delphi, BorgWarner all those different names that are associated with the OE after market, that's what Alliant Power is bringing together in creating essentially a program for independent repair shops that are involved in medium and heavy duty repair.
Tyler Robertson: I've had your CEO on my podcast before, and we've worked with you guys here as strategic partners with my company, [00:02:30] Diesel Laptops. And I know you work with Jamie as well. And I'm actually really excited too with the joint announcement we have about the annual expo coming out together. That's going to be a great thing.
But let's just dive into this here. So let's just start here. You guys do a lot of this with fixing trucks and procuring parts for people and everything. Let's just walk through the process. What happens when a repair shop has to shop around for parts? What's that like?
Nate: Interesting you bring that up, Tyler, because even talking with some of the repair shops that are attending the show here, sourcing of parts has been [00:03:00] a hot topic, especially over the past couple years with some of the supply chain issues that are out there and everything.
I mean, it's common sense, once you start shopping around for parts, every minute you're not working on that truck, you're not making money. You're spending money at that point when you got somebody going out there looking to source parts. It takes the shop off the game too. I mean, if normal channels, they can't get it through there, now it's all that time that goes into having to source those parts and everything, that's adding up on the bill.
Tyler Robertson: So tell me if you agree [00:03:30] with this. I was just talking to someone yesterday at the show here, and I'm like, "Man, how long does it take your guys to find parts?" He goes, "Funny you should say that." He goes, "About a year ago we did to study." And he has a couple locations, a bunch of texts, a bunch of shops, and he's like, "And my guys are good." he goes, "These are not amateur parts, guys. They're texting while they're on the phone with their parts guys trying to find parts and whatnot." He goes, "The average time it took was 37 minutes from when the technician asked for a part until my guy said, "I found it, and I got one on order."" Does that sound [00:04:00] right to you?
Nate: I've heard it take even longer, depending upon the job that comes in the shop. 37 minutes is pretty quick. I know there's obviously when they can have everything goes right for them, it's even quicker than that. But that 37 minutes, it's about right. But each shop has been different.
I've talked with some that are spending hours looking for parts. And of course, when you start measuring that and you think about that. If it's 125 bucks an hour, I mean, man, if you're spending [00:04:30] all day doing it, that's over up to $1,000 a day.
Tyler Robertson: So let's talk about what it costs on average. I mean, you guys to get two things, you got the technician doing, who knows what for those 37 minutes or an hour. That's one piece of equation. And you got your parts guy that you're paying money to go try to find those parts.
Nate: I mean, it all comes down to what the hourly rate is there and how much time they're putting into it. But that's just the measured cost. The other cost that we can't measure is, "Is that customer [00:05:00] going to come back to us again?" Because the longer that that truck is in the shop that starts to hurt the shop's credibility and everything too. And the longer it takes to get a job done, ultimately comes down the customers decision, whether they're going to bring that truck back again.
Tyler Robertson: And it's a timing game. Technician starts working on it at 1:00 in the afternoon and by 2:00, 2:30 he's figured out what it is. And then he's got to go get the parts, got to find it. And then it still has to get delivered. That truck's not leaving that day. Now you're in the day two, or three, or four.
Nate: And of course it's a reputable shop. [00:05:30] You've got trucks that are now coming in and they're waiting. You want to be able to turn those trucks around fast as you can, get them in and out the door and that's how we grow.
Tyler Robertson: I completely agree. The Alliant brand provides air, fuel, after treatment parts to repair shops who service medium and heavy duty trucks. We get that. Why is getting access to parts a hard problem for a repair shop to solve? It's not easy, there's a lot of little variables here and there. Can you talk about some of the challenges that they're seeing?
Nate: I mean, [00:06:00] when I've talked with some of the independent repairs out there, they'll have dozens of vendors out there. It's like, okay, I get my turbo chargers over here and then I'm calling the OE and getting injectors over here. I get my engine kits over here.
Why not try and narrow that down and have once solution? And that's what Alliant Power is trying to solve for the independent repair network out there, is to be able to have turbo chargers, fuel injection, engine component, starters, alternators, filtration, all in one in packaged [00:06:30] underneath a specific engine application out there. So that's what we're trying to head with all this, be a one stop shop.
Tyler Robertson: So I was talking to a company, again, we're at the trade chart, we're talking about parts. We're talking supply chain here a little bit too in that regard. They manufacture overhaul kits and they were saying what they've seen now is people hoarding overhaul kits. They know they normally sell five a year. They're like, "I'm buying 30." It feels like toilet paper all over again. Are you seeing that at all in some of your customers that are just [00:07:00] trying to make sure they have parts in the shelf?
Nate: Absolutely. Absolutely. Not so much on the medium and heavy duty side of it, but we're also involved in the light duty Diesel pickup truck and 502 injectors for GM applications and everything like that. Those come in and it's a race to the finish line to see who can take them all.
On occasion, we understand we got a bunch of shops out there, so we do have to limit sometimes. But fortunately on the medium and heavy duty side, we're not seeing it as quite as much [00:07:30] as the Diesel [crosstalk 00:07:31].
Tyler Robertson: So whoever thought in our industry we'd be talking manual allocation of critical components, it's an insane time. So let's just talk more about your company here. Alliant Power is a program for repair shops, but what are the main reasons repair shops to consider buying air fuel and after treatment parts from Alliant Power versus potentially where they've been sourcing them from and in those type of situations?
Nate: Sure. Well, first and foremost, I mean, the product that these customers are going to have access to its original equipment product. So a lot of [00:08:00] folks out there think that, "Well, I need to go back to Navistar to get part for a DT 466 or whatnot. No, the fuel system manufacturers that are OE out there, we deal directly with them. Same thing with the turbocharge and engine component. This is all OE product, it just doesn't have what people think of the OE name on the box.
Tyler Robertson: I'm going to educate everyone a little bit here because I think most people don't realize this. I worked at an international dealer, I worked at a freight lender dealer. I know dealers. [00:08:30] I always assumed when I worked there that, "I have a box with an international part number, international makes this injector." And I think most customers think that's the case, but truck manufacturers and engine manufacturers actually make very little of their actual components.
Nate: They're not fuel system manufacturers. The fuel system manufacturers that we carry out there, the names like Bosch, Delphi, Pure Power Technologies are all the names that we're putting in our box and getting out the door to these customers and everything.
Tyler Robertson: [00:09:00] So I think that's an interesting thing because a lot of people are like, "I only buy OE parts." And you're like, "Well, this is OE." That Navistar number is... I don't know if it's Bosch or who's it is, but I can sell you the actual Bosch number as well. And by the way, it's going to cost you less because now there's not as many middle men involved in this whole equation, because guess what, international for putting that C91 at the end of their part number, there's a markup involved in that whole process.
Nate: Absolutely. Absolutely.
Tyler Robertson: So if someone's listening to this and they're a repair shop [00:09:30] or they're a parts' distributor and they're like, "Man, I didn't realize I could buy genuine OEM parts, injectors, turbos, all these things directly from the manufacturer," how would someone get a hold of you? Because that's exactly what you guys are providing to customers in this regard.
Nate: Absolutely. I mean, going to first off visiting our website, taking a look at, there's two areas of this. We have a dealer network out there, but roughly 500 dealers across the United States and Canada that have [00:10:00] access to these components. So if it's somebody that's looking to just have that local source and be able to get in touch, they can contact one of our dealers. And that's why visiting thelionpower.com and going into our dealer locator.
If they're thinking about becoming a dealer, definitely get in touch with us. Right on our webpage you can call us, they can also email. There's inquiries that they can send us if they're seriously thinking about wanting to become a part of the Alliant Power network.
Tyler Robertson: So if they're a dealer, do they have to start stocking stuff and doing that type of thing, [00:10:30] or is that minimal or how much commitment's on their part?
Nate: Really, right now there's no commitment. I mean, it's obviously the biggest things that we look for when we want to advertise someone, put them on our dealer locator, number one is to have the OE diagnostic tools and also be trained in those particular engine applications. We want to make sure that when we're marketing to the vehicle owners out there and trying to bring business to the network that our network members are ready to be able to take care of that customer.
Tyler Robertson: I mean, from your [00:11:00] side it's always the hard part, because now someone else is selling your brand, saying things about your brand. I can say at Diesel Laptops we've struggled with that. Because people want to sell our product and they oversell it or undersell it. Actually, I don't mind them underselling it, but those things happen. What about warranty? Your product, you can say warranty that they get with OEs or is it slightly different or how does that work?
Nate: Depending upon the application and product line, I mean, the Alliant Power, on our light duty side, we have a two year warranty that's out there, unlimited mileage, but typically we stick [00:11:30] right around the standards of one year warranty. That's going to be the lowest part, is the one year warranty, and of course unlimited mileage on those particular parts.
Tyler Robertson: All right. Sounds good. And let's go back to the whole thing with the joint expo. So you guys historically have done one or two expos per year virtually. I think you guys started that same time we did, COVID happened and everything. How have those gone for you guys as a company? Have people understood what those are and have people enjoyed the content and those types of things?
Nate: I mean, it's definitely a different [00:12:00] concept. One of the best things that an attendee could get out of that show is coming to see some of the different speakers. We've had representatives from Bosch, representatives from Delphi, obviously we've had Diesel Laptops on there. There's good information, whether you're a repair shop fleet, even if you're a Diesel enthusiast or someone thinking about getting into the Diesel industry.
I try to tell the technical colleges, "Hey, get your Diesel students in this so they can see a little bit more about what our industry is all about and everything like that." And the feedback we've gotten [00:12:30] from that is very informative. It's better coming to places like this, but hey, the virtual shows work too as well.
Tyler Robertson: I love shows like this, but obviously this show particularly, it's not open to the public, right?
Tyler Robertson: We have to be members and those types of things. I know what it costs for us to have a booth here. I can imagine what it costs for you guys to have a booth here, they're expensive. And I think the great thing about the virtual thing is they're free, we don't charge anybody anything. We do charge the vendors to be there. And I know [00:13:00] we're donating all the profits to a charity to help new Diesel technicians get into the industry.
Tyler Robertson: So I'm really excited about that whole thing. It's called the Diesel Repair Expo for people that are asking. I know it's all over the Alliant Power, Diesel Forward website, it's all over Diesel Laptops. I'm convinced we're going to get 10,000 people to show up at this thing this year.
Tyler Robertson: I think it's going to be a big thing. And I know Jamie loves working with you guys. I know we love working with you guys. So it's been a great thing. So with all that said, what is the one thing you'd want people to remember about Alliant Power's [00:13:30] medium heavy duty program, one thing we need to walk away from?
Nate: Well, I'd say OE. But one thing I also want the people to know is that, hey, we're in the same business that they're in too. I mean, we work on trucks as well. That's one of the best benefits of dealing with our Alliant Power staff member, is that we have a shop in Madison, Wisconsin, and Colorado, and also in New Mexico. We see the same things that our customers see out there. And we're not only just about parts, we're also a resource too, and a partner.
Tyler Robertson: I know we've actually [00:14:00] referred OEM dealers to you guys who then buy your products because they can buy cheaper than they can from their own OEM. Plus they have access [inaudible 00:14:08] they want to work on other brands and other things. So anyone listening to this, I'll just reiterate.
If you are selling and working on fuel injection components and related turbos, talk to these guys in Alliant Power. I guarantee you, you'll find new revenue streams in your business, you'll find better ways to take care of customers, you'll improve your customers downtime and help minimize it. [00:14:30] They are a tremendous company to work with. I've been to the location up in Madison. It's a class operation, bunch of great people up there.
So with all that, just make sure you say hi to HK for me. I don't want him to feel left out of any of these things. If he was here, I'd probably try to make him even get on the air with us. But it's okay.
So with all that said, you've been listening to The Heavy-Duty Parts Report. I'm your guest host, Tyler Robertson. And we've been speaking with Nate, the director of sales and marketing at Alliant Power, a Diesel brand. Nate, thank you very much for coming [00:15:00] on the show.
Nate: Hey, thanks a lot, Tyler.
Tyler Robertson: To learn more about Alliant Power go to Dieselforward.com/alliant-power.