• Redline Emissions Product’s Journey - The DL S3E10

    Redline Emissions Product’s Journey - The DL S3E10 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 Steve Hoke, CEO at Redline Emissions Service during HDAW (Heavy-Duty Aftermarket Week). Steve takes us on the journey of Redline Emissions’ products, how they are focusing on DPF cleaning equipment, refocusing on their core competency, and expanding e-commerce.

    As always thank you for watching and listening!

    CONNECT WITH STEVE HOKE & REDLINE EMISSIONS SERVICE:

    LinkedInhttps://www.linkedin.com/in/steve-hoke-81279244/

    Websitehttps://www.dpfpartsdirect.com

    Transcript for Redline Emissions Product’s Journey - The DL S3E10:

    Tyler Robertson:

    Welcome to the TL, I am your host Tyler Robertson. This is the podcast show where we talk about everything to do in the heavy duty industry. And today I'm not even in Irvine, I'm in Grapevine. What city am I in?

    Tyler Robertson:

    I'm here with Steve Hoke who's been on the show before.

    Tyler Robertson:

    You're all over LinkedIn. I see you all over the place, man. You're on podcast. So I thought, you know what? Let's grab him off the floor. I'm like, "Steve, 20 minutes in the podcast booth. Can you do it?" He's like, "I'm there."

    Tyler Robertson:

    So welcome, sir.

    Steve Hoke:

    Thank you. I always loved doing stuff with these laptops, especially you. Technically, I was not on the floor. I was standing in a booth last night. I was on the floor after a long dinner.

    Tyler Robertson:

    Yesterday was a long one for me too. I literally was up at 3:00 in the morning, Eastern time. I had to catch an early flight and get here. I was done by 10:30. I was like, "I'm out of here. It's a long day."

    Steve Hoke:

    We plan ahead a little farther. We've been here since last Wednesday. Wayne and I flew in-

    Tyler Robertson:

    You've been here a week?

    Steve Hoke:

    We flew into Houston, made sales calls. Drove up here to Grapevine to relax. Wayne wanted make sales calls 12 hours a day so I didn't get to relax. We've been here.

    Tyler Robertson:

    I mean, you got to make the best of it. You're gone, you're away from the family. You got the expenses.

    Tyler Robertson:

    Our company... We're going to come here. We're going to prebook a bunch of meetings. We're going to do a customer VIP event. We're going to do podcasts. We're going to do a vlog. What more can we do to get the best bang of the buck? Because we're not doing 40 or 50 trade shows anymore. We're doing eight or 10 or something minimal.

    Tyler Robertson:

    Is this your first one back after COVID? Or have you done some other stuff?

    Steve Hoke:

    We did Apex. It was not as fruitful as all of us in the industry expected. The travel rates were still way down. The location of where Apex had us, we're still grateful it was there. We love having meeting events. HDAW is our favorite and biggest show of the year. As far as distributors around the country, come here for a purpose. They don't want swag. They don't really care about stuff other than knowing what can you do for me? What can I buy? What can I put on my store shelf?

    Tyler Robertson:

    This is business. People are here to make new relationships and find new product lines and all that.

    Tyler Robertson:

    I mean, I know you've been on the show. What's been going on Redline the last year and a half. I know COVID threw a wrench and everything. But how have things been going? And any new going on?

    Steve Hoke:

    The last time we were with you in the podcast room, we were in beautiful Irmo, South Carolina in February 2020.

    Tyler Robertson:

    We were joking about people wearing masks at the TMC show.

    Steve Hoke:

    Casey C Stratton and myself just came back from India, four days before. And COVID hit over there. And Eric Canada said, "Look, you got four days to get back or we're taking your seat". We came home, did TMC and then traveled over to see you, which we love going to diesel laptops.

    Steve Hoke:

    We've really been honing our DPF cleaning equipment. We've been honing our manufacturing for all the supply shortages. I've been making a lot of moves, spending a lot of money. My wife, hopefully, is not listening to this. Or again, it'll be delayed. We've already paid for stuff. We've had to increase inventories to keep up with supply and to keep our customers with product to sell.

    Tyler Robertson:

    Well, I mean, I got to ask supply chain, right? So I mean, everyone's talking about it. There's conferences, talks, everything going on here. I mean, I know OEMs are struggling even to build trucks. I can imagine OEMs are struggling even to make replacement parts and obviously your aftermarket and providing DPF filters, your core business. How are OEMs doing? How are you guys doing? What's supply chain look like in your vein of the world?

    Steve Hoke:

    The OEMs I can't speak for, other than they can't just pick up a phone and buy from people. They're ISSO certified. They have their own 700 page vendor approval. They can't just say, "Hey, this guy has 10,000 of them in stock. I'll buy him from him."

    Steve Hoke:

    For us, we've done okay. We've done great actually. Redline brand did over double in sales, what it did the year before. Which Wayne and I are always very happy and trying to plan for the future.

    Tyler Robertson:

    Wait, so do Wayne take credit? Or you take credit for that?

    Steve Hoke:

    Wayne takes credit. I give Wayne credit for everything.

    Tyler Robertson:

    That's good.

    Steve Hoke:

    I'm not like you, I don't get out in public eye as much. But I hide in an office and buy a lot of stuff and then Laura's in the next office saying, "No, no, no". And Casey's in the other office processing POS so she doesn't see it.

    Steve Hoke:

    Actually, one of the things I want to talk to you... I haven't seen you in so long. I saw the new training facility in Dallas. I heard about Chicago and then I just saw Atlanta. I'm so proud of you guys.

    Tyler Robertson:

    Thanks, man. Probably not the best time to go launch in person training classes.

    Steve Hoke:

    When do you care what happens, right?

    Tyler Robertson:

    COVID is a bad thing. A lot of people died. I'm not going to argue that.

    Steve Hoke:

    Yeah.

    Tyler Robertson:

    But I look at it, the 10 year, 20 year, it's a speed bump.

    Steve Hoke:

    Yeah.

    Tyler Robertson:

    People eventually are going to go back to trade shows. People are eventually going to need more training. For us, it's all about building the brand, doing these things. And I keep telling people at work, I two got decisions. We make money, I can either take it and go buy personal stuff, or I can keep investing in my own company, which has been working great for seven years.

    Steve Hoke:

    I know what your answer is because you drive a 2003 Camry that the sunroof leaks. I tell the story, I've seen it in your parking lot. I'm going to send you one of my vehicles to drive...

    Tyler Robertson:

    I got bad news for you.

    Steve Hoke:

    You got rid of it?

    Tyler Robertson:

    Someone pulled out in front of me and I got wrecked. I was mad. The crazy thing is... This is an old Camry, right? Someone pulls out in front of me gets totaled. Literally the check they gave me was only a couple grand less than when I bought it all those years ago.

    Steve Hoke:

    Oh wow.

    Tyler Robertson:

    Then, of course it just horrible time to buy something. I literally go in Carvana and I'm like, "My kids are getting older. I need a pick up truck, I'm hauling stuff and kind of move up to the country-ish more". Literally I ended up buying a year old pickup truck that I paid more over sticker price when it was new.

    Steve Hoke:

    You should call me next time when you want a vehicle.

    Tyler Robertson:

    You could have hooked me up a little bit better?

    Steve Hoke:

    I'll hook you up. Yep.

    Tyler Robertson:

    I was like... I'm one of those people, I don't like to spend money on those things. But if I have to buy something, I'm like, I still bought a used one. I'm still not going to go buy a new one. I'm like, you know what, I'll drive this thing for the next 20 years. And that's what I have because I just need to get from point A to B. And there's better things I'd rather go spend my money on.

    Steve Hoke:

    Yeah.

    Steve Hoke:

    Well, some of the advice we took from you early on in COVID on refocusing on our core competency and expanding on e-commerce. I'll just tell this quick story. We let our internal team do stuff. We have great graphics artists and marketing. Our website was absolutely beautiful. Our e-commerce site or our retail site and not much in sales. Casey said, "Look, let's have pros do it". And I'm like, "That costs a lot of money". And he says, "Yeah, okay. Let's have pros do it". I said, "What's the budget?" And he gave me a budget and I'm like, "That's a lot of money". And he says, "Jesus, just give me three months." Our e-commerce site is at 485% on a 2 million run rate in 14 months. And we spent less now than we did before because people actually know what they're spending money on. I'm like, what a smart kid.

    Tyler Robertson:

    Was it you got more traffic? Or the right traffic? Or was it easier to buy and find things? What did you really do there? If we peel back the layers.

    Steve Hoke:

    Yeah.

    Steve Hoke:

    We teamed up with a company called ELK marketing, no plug there for them, but great people. Basically said, SEO matters.

    Tyler Robertson:

    Yep.

    Steve Hoke:

    Backlinks matter. I'm like, "What's a backlink? How do I get backlinks?" He says, "You pay for them."

    Tyler Robertson:

    You talk to your vendors. Yeah. Yeah. There's ways to get those.

    Steve Hoke:

    The simple stuff. I mean, they saw us and they went you're our dream, right? You've already done all your graphic. You've already done your stuff correctly. You actually have inventory in stock. Let us show you how to do this. We go to our base now, as you do. We share with others. You've got to do this if you want to be viable, if you want to be in business. If you want to grow your business, you've got to focus on different things.

    Tyler Robertson:

    Here's what I'm seeing in our industry. It's really infuriating and frustrating to me because what I'm seeing is everyone's saying, "We need to be in e-commerce", right? So you have all these people that sell parts saying, "Man, we need to have a website and we need to sell parts". They're going to some website builder and in some cases their buying group even recommended in someone and they're just popping up on the website and pre-populating all their part numbers. And they're like, oh, you got an e-commerce site. And I'm sitting there thinking, I run an e-commerce site, you run an e-commerce site. You build it, does not mean they will come.

    Steve Hoke:

    No.

    Tyler Robertson:

    Not only that, but you got to make sure you rank when people go online and search.

    Steve Hoke:

    I've learned more of this last year about domain authority.

    Tyler Robertson:

    Yep.

    Steve Hoke:

    Page domain authority.

    Tyler Robertson:

    Yep.

    Steve Hoke:

    And knock on wood in 2021, we probably sold more NOx sensors than anybody in the country. I can back that up. And we ranked 14 and I'm like, "I sell more than anybody. I have more inventory than anybody." We didn't have the SEO right. We didn't have backlinks right, so we've corrected that. Now we're number one on NOx sensors.

    Tyler Robertson:

    Here's the joke that we tell people all the time, in the market. We always say, "You want to know where the best place is to hide a dead body?"

    Steve Hoke:

    Internet?

    Tyler Robertson:

    Page two on Google. Nobody goes there. Nobody goes to page two.

    Steve Hoke:

    Yeah.

    Tyler Robertson:

    The fact is you need to be... Here's a stat for people listening to this. When you run paid ads on Google, you're on top. If you get 2% of the views to click your link, you are doing extremely well. You're paying for that traffic. By the way, that 2% that clicks to you, usually 70% bounce with one page view and they're gone. I mean, you're whittling down that ad span quick to go get a sale. That's e-commerce in a nutshell for people that don't understand how it works. The number one organic rating on Google has a 34% click through and guess what? That one was free. And guess what? To a degree, right? I didn't pay Google directly to get that click. By the way, the bounce rate on an organic link, at least reduce the laptops, is less than half of what it is for a paid listing, right? It's great traffic.

    Steve Hoke:

    Yeah.

    Tyler Robertson:

    I think what I see... And tell me if you feel different. But I think all these retailers that are building e-commerce sites, they don't have a freaking clue what they're doing with e-commerce sites

    Steve Hoke:

    Above my pay grade. Casey could probably talk more on it. I just know that from watching the results of what we do for backlinking and for writing our blog posts-

    Tyler Robertson:

    Yep.

    Steve Hoke:

    Where we actually tell people about a product or about something and not just write NOx sensor, actually have content. It has done more for us than every $10,000 cheque we write to Google.

    Tyler Robertson:

    Yep.

    Steve Hoke:

    It's amazing.

    Tyler Robertson:

    It truly is. Have you guys got much into the email marketing of that? And trying to drive traffic through emails and collect email addresses and that thing?

    Steve Hoke:

    Yeah. Yeah. We use Klaviyo. I'm saying all these big words. I hear them in our meetings.

    Tyler Robertson:

    You've grown. Wow.

    Steve Hoke:

    We use Clicky. We use Etanomics, which is incredible.

    Tyler Robertson:

    Yep.

    Steve Hoke:

    It's amazing, the people who write this stuff.

    Tyler Robertson:

    Here's the interesting thing. You're the business owner, right? It's not enough that you write the check. But you're actually learning and understand what these things are. I think anyone has to if they're going to go get into the e-commerce team.

    Steve Hoke:

    Absolutely. I mean, a good way to lose a million bucks is start with 2 million bucks. If you don't understand what it is.

    Tyler Robertson:

    Yeah.

    Steve Hoke:

    And lot of marketing companies from what I see, just say, "I want a monthly stipend and we'll always guarantee you stuff up." But the people that we went with, they prove to us every week, what the changes. If it didn't work, we're going to make different changes. So we've made an investment, not just in writing them a check. But we've made the investment in understanding and making changes when they tell us, "Hey, you need to make a change".

    Tyler Robertson:

    Yeah.

    Tyler Robertson:

    And why, and what do these acronyms mean and what metrics... It's like any business. You run shops too. You know productivity, efficiency, cost of good, margins. It's the same thing with digital marketing. You have to understand the metrics and know what these things mean and what drives things.

    Steve Hoke:

    They can make you or break you.

    Tyler Robertson:

    I remember one time when we were learning and you look and we're like, "Man, where do we spend all that money on Google ads?" And it was Google shopping ads. And we come to find out we spent something like $60,000 on a Google shopping for a product that we had zero sales on. And it wasn't even our core product. It was like a ancillary thing we happened to put on the website. It had the word... I can't remember what common word it had in there. But it would pop on everyone's Google... We're like, "What? Can I get my money back?"

    Steve Hoke:

    Oh, we had that. We had an employee that clicked the wrong budget box on Google. And we had a bill for like 16,000.

    Tyler Robertson:

    Oh yeah.

    Steve Hoke:

    And I'm like, but-

    Tyler Robertson:

    There's no do overs-

    Steve Hoke:

    But that was an accident. They're like, "Doesn't matter. Pay it."

    Tyler Robertson:

    It's expensive lessons. I hope there's more business owners at this conference and in our industry that are learning what I've learned, what you've learned.

    Steve Hoke:

    Yeah.

    Tyler Robertson:

    It's a great world of e-commerce because once you get it clicking.

    Steve Hoke:

    Oh yeah.

    Tyler Robertson:

    And you realize you have a 24/7 marketplace.

    Steve Hoke:

    Yeah.

    Tyler Robertson:

    And then where we're at is a company... Well man, we get a lot of traffic to our website. I don't want know what the numbers... Half a million you year. What if just 1% more of those people engage with their sales team?

    Steve Hoke:

    Yeah.

    Tyler Robertson:

    That's 5,000 leads.

    Steve Hoke:

    The difference from yours, which we might move to one day is your main website with all your information and all your great stuff is also your e-commerce site. Because we have different brands, our e-commerce site is its own bundled retail to the end user. Where our brand websites are no pricing, for information and data. It's kind of weird how much money we spend on all these different... It'd be nice to combine them, but in our situation it doesn't work that way.

    Tyler Robertson:

    Hey, we ended up having to make four different websites. One for parts, one for repair, one for training and one for diesel laptops, right? And that was the best solutions.

    Steve Hoke:

    One of the things... I came down for this, we had had a NARSA board meeting, NARSA/idea. National Automotive Radiator Service Association and International Diesel Emission Association. We're trying to teach people radiator side. They have that taken care of. They brought me in and a couple other people to help on the after treatment side at Apex.

    Steve Hoke:

    I want to talk to you... I should talk to you off the microphone.

    Steve Hoke:

    But we've basically been giving space and time if we would like to do some after treatment training. Some condensed classes for Apex, for people walking the floor. And I thought that would be something be great to do.

    Tyler Robertson:

    Yeah, man. I love doing stuff like know that. I mean, I think we're both in the same boat. We're just trying to help people.

    Steve Hoke:

    Yep.

    Tyler Robertson:

    Right? And we're trying to help them get their trucks back on the road quicker. We're trying to help them... In your case, especially, stay legal. Right? There's a lot that goes on in the emissions world that deletes in tunes. And there's a lot of things happening there in that space.

    Steve Hoke:

    It seems like the tide has changed a little bit on deletes. I think when people now have to trade in their vehicle and people won't take their vehicles. I think that's starting to change a little bit on the delete side.

    Tyler Robertson:

    So we've been talking to someone that works at the EPA.

    Steve Hoke:

    Someone?

    Tyler Robertson:

    Someone. I shouldn't say name, but the EPAs been on the calls and we've seen some presentations. When they go to auction sites, up to 40% of the trucks at the auction are deleted emissions.

    Steve Hoke:

    Yeah.

    Tyler Robertson:

    Right? And I can tell you this, I can tell everyone listening. The EPA wants to catch you. They're just looking for an easy effective way to do it. And if they're talking to companies like me, they're talking to other companies out there as well and doing all those things. It'll be interesting to see how things keep moving and turning and going here.

    Tyler Robertson:

    We know one thing for sure, technology can make impact on your business. And I think you just described that with figuring out, man. We can make some money on this e-commerce thing if we put a little attention and focus on it.

    Steve Hoke:

    Well, we have such great deals. It's like, how do they know we have them? I mean, that's the cool thing about e-commerce, right?

    Tyler Robertson:

    Yep.

    Tyler Robertson:

    Any big initiatives this year? Any big things going on that are coming up? Or being planned for at this current time? Or is it kind of just let's keep fine tuning and keep getting through and keep building this thing?

    Steve Hoke:

    Yeah. We've focused on more manufacturing on the DPF cleaning machines. We've been sending more machines overseas.

    Tyler Robertson:

    Wait, did I just see something about India or something with the cleaning machine? I thought I saw something somewhere about that overseas or something.

    Steve Hoke:

    We have machines going to Singapore right now. I can't tell you who to. But a large engine manufacturer.

    Tyler Robertson:

    Okay.

    Steve Hoke:

    Same thing. Their engines have to have DPFs. And they have to have a way to clean them-

    Tyler Robertson:

    Yep.

    Steve Hoke:

    Our new [inaudible 00:16:18] package has been very well received around the world. And we're just perfecting and dealing with that.

    Tyler Robertson:

    Yeah.

    Tyler Robertson:

    I mean, those are big things. International commerce, trade. Yeah. There's a lot going on there.

    Steve Hoke:

    I have been surfing the web though, looking at condos and houses in North Carolina.

    Steve Hoke:

    Yeah. Just focusing on selling. Cleaning machines more around the world and helping other countries that haven't had the time to market, that we've had. And the experience that we've learned or the things we've learned. But my wife and I are getting ready to start taking more time off and traveling. I've been sitting on the website, looking at houses on golf courses in North Carolina.

    Tyler Robertson:

    Yeah.

    Tyler Robertson:

    Oh man. We'd love to have you on the East Coast, man. I'm going to say South Carolina's not too bad. More than welcome to come over here. We'll see if we get you over here.

    Tyler Robertson:

    But hey man, it's been great to see you in person again. I know it's been a long time. It's great that events are starting to happen again and things are going on and eventually the world gets back to the way it was.

    Steve Hoke:

    We're doing a diesel laptop after treatment class and TEXA class, I believe March 10th and 11th. It's on your website.

    Tyler Robertson:

    Okay.

    Steve Hoke:

    For on the West Coast or on in Redding, California. But yeah, we're excited.

    Tyler Robertson:

    Awesome.

    Tyler Robertson:

    Well, thanks for coming on Steve.

    Tyler Robertson:

    Hey, by the way, we got to tell what's the website. When we were talking about it, we never gave him the website address. What is the website?

    Steve Hoke:

    www.dpfpartsdirect.com

    Tyler Robertson:

    I love it, man.

    Tyler Robertson:

    Well, you know what we're going to do? We're going to make sure we get you a link back to this. You know now how important those are, especially for high domain authorities that give you those things in your industry. If people don't know what I'm talking about. Man, you got to learn digital marketing if you're running a website, you own a company, you need to know the basics. Let's just say this again. It's not just diagnostics, it's diagnostics done right.

    Steve Hoke:

    Right.

    Tyler Robertson:

    Starts with decently mission products. It starts with filters, cleaning equipment, and you got to learn your digital strategy. I know another big person that can help with that is Jamie Irvine. I know he does a lot with that in our industry. We miss Jamie. Jamie, where are you? We'll catch him on the next one.

    Tyler Robertson:

    With that said, like, comment, subscribe, share. We love all that stuff. We will catch you on the next one. Thank you for watching and listening.

    Steve Hoke:

    Thank you.

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