Top Trends In Fuel Injection for Heavy-Duty Applications - The DL S3E05
In this episode of The DL, Diesel Laptops’ Founder and CEO, Tyler Robertson, is joined by Robert Isherwood, the CEO of AMBAC International, during an HDAW live interview for The Heavy-Duty Parts Report, Episode 157. Robert talks about fuel injection trends and how AMBAC International is responding.
As always thank you for watching and listening!
CONNECT WITH ROBERT ISHERWOOD & AMBAC INTERNATIONAL:
Linkedin - https://www.linkedin.com/in/robertisherwood/
Websites – https://ambacinternational.com/aftermarket
CONNECT WITH THE HEAVY-DUTY PARTS REPORT:
Website – https://heavydutypartsreport.com
Transcript for Top Trends In Fuel Injection for Heavy-Duty Applications - The DL S3E5:
Tyler Robertson (00:06):
Welcome to the DL. I am your host, Tyler Robertson. And this will 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 with the Heavy-Duty Party 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 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.
Tyler Robertson (00:41):
We are at Heavy Duty Aftermarket Week here in Grapevine, Texas at the Gaylord Texan Hotel and Resort. Just a mammoth facility. We're on the floor. Literally, I'm staring out a window right now and people are staring back at us wondering who are these guys talking and why are they here? But I'm your host, Tyler Robertson. Jamie Irvine, unfortunately, is unable to attend the show. He is up in Canada, COVID restrictions, all these weirdness that goes on. But ironically, he booked a meaning for me to do this guest host with someone who lives in the same city as me back in South Carolina.
Robert Isherwood (01:17):
Tyler Robertson (01:18):
Yeah, Robert Isherwood the CEO at AMBAC International. And you may have recognized Robert. You've been on my podcast and you've been also on episode 46 with Jamie as well. So Hey, welcome back to Heavy-Duty Parts Report and welcome to Grapevine, Texas.
Robert Isherwood (01:34):
Yeah. Thank you very much. This is cool. Beautiful.
Tyler Robertson (01:36):
Have you guys done the in-person events, is this the first one or what?
Robert Isherwood (01:41):
This is the first time we've had the full crew here in the booth and everything else. And so far it's been great. I like the virtual events that we do with you guys and others, but there's something about being here that's... It's magic here.
Tyler Robertson (01:52):
I like him and I think it'll be a thing going forward too, where it's we do a little virtual, little in-person and we mix it up. And personally, I am just done with Zoom at this point, and it's great to see people face to face, so pleasure and thankful that you're here and everything. So, let's just start with this. We're here at HDAW, Heavy Duty Aftermarket Week. There's a lot of co-events going on and there's a lot of discussions about the future of the trucking industry. We got electrification. I'm Diesel Laptops. You guys make diesel injectors. We got robots driving trucks some point in the future, technology's changing in a lot of ways. What trends are you guys seeing from your side of the equation?
Robert Isherwood (02:32):
A lot, actually. You can't really even watch the news or read the paper without seeing supply chain issues. And those are a lot of times, they're talking about trucking when they're talking about supply chain and the ports and all that stuff. And then COVID related issues and people related issues. So those are the two big macro trends that we see a lot. And it's really impacting us. In fuel injection in particular, there's another trend going on. And that is, it's getting more and more complex to understand what used to be a relatively simple part.
Robert Isherwood (03:02):
It goes bad. You put a new one in the engine right. Now, it's not like that at all. There's a lot more technical development happening.
Tyler Robertson (03:10):
And I've had the pleasure of getting a [inaudible 00:03:12] replaced. I've seen you guys literally on one end of the factory, take a block of aluminum and on the other hand comes on a fuel pump. It's really quite amazing what's going on there. And as I've been talking to other people and obviously supply chain keeps coming up with everyone too and I was joking. I'm like, "The guy nobody knew about was the guy that was the procurement and purchasing apartment." Nobody cared about that guy or gal. No one knew what they really did. Things just showed up. I got to imagine how that's a pretty popular person inside a manufacturing company.
Robert Isherwood (03:38):
Oh yeah. And it's a strategic resource, I think. But for us, we're a US manufacturer. And you've been to the plant. So steel comes in on one end and fuel injectors go out the other end. So a lot of the global supply chain issues that we've been seeing industry wide haven't really impacted us as much, which is really pretty cool.
Tyler Robertson (03:58):
You are very fortunate. I know my company. And we imported product from three countries and they were the first three hardest hit by COVID. Yeah. It was China, Italy and Spain. It was like, "Boom, boom, boom." And we're like, "Man, I really wish had stuff here." And some of what we make is cables and we wanted to make them here. We couldn't find anybody. Like, "Well, we get the components from China."
Tyler Robertson (04:21):
Like, "What are we fixing here then?"
Robert Isherwood (04:21):
We're dead in the water.
Tyler Robertson (04:26):
It's really great to hear that. Another trend is electrification. I get asked this all the time. I'm Diesel Laptops. Again, you sell diesel-
Robert Isherwood (04:34):
Diesel fuel injections. Yeah.
Tyler Robertson (04:35):
So does that start coming into your company's thought process at all of, "Man, electrification." Now you deal with this?
Robert Isherwood (04:41):
Oh yeah, sure. And my company's been around for over 110 years. So we currently manufacture a lot of diesel fuel injection systems. We manufacture other things as well, but we started in heavy duty engine components with Magnetos and other products. And that's the key thing for us. We love fuel injection, but we are heavy duty people. I was a truck driver once. So we know that there is no future where there will not be farmers that need to bring in crops.
Robert Isherwood (05:08):
There will not be farmers that need to distribute their crops to end user consumers. So that's our market. If it's fuel, great. If it's hydraulics, great. If it's electric, even better. And I think brings a huge advantage to our industry because it's a different power strain that applies very, very well to a different problem. So it's good for everybody. I think.
Tyler Robertson (05:31):
Yeah. We keep saying the same thing too. Because people are like, "Man, aren't you worried?" I'm like, "Hey, here's the thing. I was late to the diesel diagnostic game. People really had a decade, two decade head start on me. And I think I caught pretty quick and guess what? We all got equalized." We're all at day one. So now it's game on. It's a new playing field. The board get reset. Now we get to see what happens here. And I think you're absolutely right. A lot of companies are looking at like, "Man, there's there's opportunity here. There's change."
Robert Isherwood (05:57):
But there's also opportunity.
Tyler Robertson (06:01):
There's a lot of manufacturers here. A lot of people here selling parts and I said this in another podcast. I've been shocked how many times as we're trying to set up our e-commerce and things we're doing, and we talk to people and we're like, "Hey, show us your line card." And they're like, "Here it is." And we're like, "Where's your engine parts?" Like, "Well, we don't do those." "Wait, Aftermarket, and you want to compete against the dealers, but you don't do engine parts? So explain to me how you're going to do that?"
Tyler Robertson (06:26):
So why right now, is it a good time if someone's listening to this, that's not into our industry and selling fuel injection components. Why would they get into it?
Robert Isherwood (06:35):
Why would you start selling fuel injection components?
Tyler Robertson (06:37):
Robert Isherwood (06:38):
Because when you have a customer walk in the door to a parts counter or something like that, they have a problem and you need to have an answer or they're going to someplace else. And so part of that portfolio of answer that you need to have is fuel injection. So it's really about protecting your customer relationship and doing the best thing for your customer. Now it's hard to get into fuel injection. And that's what a lot of people look at, but they say, "Heck, there's so many things. I got to know a lot about a lot of stuff in order to do that."
Robert Isherwood (07:04):
And there's hundreds of SKUs. They got to figure out how to stock and all that stuff. So it's not easy. The worst thing, for one of our major customers, they had a lift of about $10,000 off fuel injection sales on their parts counters per counter. Not a bad deal.
Tyler Robertson (07:21):
It's it's not a bad deal. So your particular products, how wide of a catalog or how deep is it? Do you guys have... I mean, no one's ever got a hundred percent coverage on everything but where... Maybe you guys do, I don't know. I'm curious to know, how much coverage can you give people if they work with AMBAC?
Robert Isherwood (07:37):
Yeah. To the best of my knowledge, we have the broadest coverage of anyone in the business. And that is really something that we've spent the past three years developing.
Robert Isherwood (07:45):
So we have a phenomenal catalog, a deep, deep amount of technical knowledge, ACEs and PIES information, which is something that I know that people listen to your podcasts have been educated about. So that is really a lot of the magic of why you would talk to AMBAC because it's in a sense, but one stop shop. And so we can cover anything that moves down the road, basically. And most everything that moves over the ground.
Tyler Robertson (08:10):
Well, I'm hearing you guys got wide coverage. I've been to your place. I've seen the... I've physically have seen them made at your location. I know the quality and I know I've met many people at your company on that tour and I got to hear them talk and do different things in the meetings. They are passionate people at your company about this.
Tyler Robertson (08:27):
And again, American made. You don't find a lot of that anymore. And that is a really big deal that people really need to look at because when things like this happen in the global supply chain, really handy when someone in your backyard can still manufacture and get your truck going again.
Robert Isherwood (08:39):
Yeah. We can actually make stuff. And the team... We're in mainly in the USA, but we're also employee owned. We're employee owned and open book manage using a system called The Great Game of Business. What that means is when you call up [Heather 00:08:51], who's in customer service, or you talk to [Dean 00:08:53] who's in technical support, you're talking to the guy who owns the company. That's an important difference because they will do what they have to do to make sure you get back on the road. And that's what they want.
Tyler Robertson (09:02):
I'm going to say this. This is for the audience listening. I literally did not know Robert. He's like, "Hey, come over to our place, come to this huddle meeting." I'm like, "Okay," and I show up. And I walk in and they got a big board and it's got... It looked to me on the board, on a wiper. I'm like, "That looks like an income statement." And literally it was, and employees were calling out sales numbers and cost numbers and all these things. I'm like, "They just literally... I don't even know this guy or this company. And they just showed me what they made this week. I can do math here pretty quick." It was a really cool thing. It's a really cool process you have. But I think that goes right into your employees, they're part of it.
Tyler Robertson (09:37):
Everyone says, "Employees are part of our company." In your case, you actually work for them.
Robert Isherwood (09:43):
I do. Yeah. So I'm this CEO, but I was elected.
Tyler Robertson (09:48):
So what are some of the main issues parts we sellers face and how does that impact their ability to serve customers who own commercial trucks?
Robert Isherwood (09:55):
Oh yeah. That's a huge one. And actually you've seen this and you know this better than I do, finding the right part. So something broke, throw a code, I can figure out what the code is. Now what? I got to find that part. And I got to find the right cross references and I got to find out who's got inventory and all that.
Tyler Robertson (10:14):
You got to call, who has it, when can I get it? What's the a price. It's a nightmare.
Robert Isherwood (10:18):
Yeah. It's unbelievable. And when you think about it, a commercial truck sitting on the side of the road waiting for a part is costing you... I'll make up a number that's reasonable, $2 a minute. And the parts guys making phone calls.
Tyler Robertson (10:32):
What year are we in?
Robert Isherwood (10:32):
I know. Yeah.
Tyler Robertson (10:34):
I feel like we need like a telegram over there or something to... Or carrier pigeon. Right? It is absolutely insane that the amount of effort goes into a parts guy to go find one part. Here's the cruddy thing, that could be a $10 part. They're going to mark up and make three or five bucks. Or it could be a thousand dollars part that they're going to mark up. They lose money a lot of times just sourcing parts, trying to get them in there.
Tyler Robertson (10:55):
Yeah. And then if someone's actually got to deliver them there or go pick them up, it's not a great process. And it's amazing to me that process has been really unaffected by the internet.It blows my mind when I can order anything. I can order food and have it show at my house in 30 minutes, I can click a button and have Amazon drop a package off in two hours. And we're still using the phones or we're having to drive somewhere and throw part in the counter to figure it out.
Robert Isherwood (11:22):
Yeah. It drives me crazy when I hear people like, I get a pricing and availability call like, "Well, first of all, you should know the price. You should know the availability and you should know the inventory level before the part fails."
Tyler Robertson (11:34):
And I've said this too. I worked at an OEM dealer, we use one piece of software to diagnose the truck, another piece of software to repair it, to figure out how to repair it, another piece of software to find out the part number and another piece of software to order it. What are we doing? Why do we do it? They're all complaining about, "Man. We got too much work in the shop. We can't get it all through or we're over..." Like. "Yeah. Because we made the most convoluted process possible to do this thing." It's okay. There's a lot of companies trying to fix it. And I know part of the equation is companies like you trying to get the data so that it can go quick. It can get through that.
Robert Isherwood (12:07):
And we spent four years now working just on making sure the data is right, because that, it really becomes the backbone or the coin of the realm in this industry. I think we're in a software world at this point. We just need to realize that.
Tyler Robertson (12:22):
We're all in the software technology business, whether we know it or not. And it's definitely impacting all of our businesses and in a lot of cases, the negative way when the technology is not where it should be. And I can say that with a straight face in our industry of parts and procurement and looking at parts and already, it's not where it should be. And it is literally hurting us hard and it's going to get worse before it gets better.
Robert Isherwood (12:44):
We're in a national crisis over supply chain issues. Well, what if we can make our supply chain 1% more efficient?
Tyler Robertson (12:51):
I talk about that all the time. We don't need big changes, we need 1% changes. And we'll get there eventually. So another question for you here. So as I understand, what are the three pillars of aftermarket support you provide your distributors?
Robert Isherwood (13:07):
So we provide inventory support, as we've talked about. The supply chain is a big deal, inventory, who's got the part? And so we have our very robust inventory and we're very cautious and conscious, I should say, about analyzing our inventory to make sure we have the right level. So that's a big deal. And then training. So we provide training to our distributors and to our end use customers about the product. The product is complex and it's becoming more complex.
Robert Isherwood (13:33):
And so you really need a partner that can provide all of that background, bench depth information. And then we have support programs. For example, we have a very, very simple core management program. And re manufacturing core is the key. That's the-
Tyler Robertson (13:46):
You got to have the core back.
Robert Isherwood (13:46):
You got to have the core back. But for the parts guys, they don't need another complicated core management program. They need something simple. And so we have a very, very simple process and other support processes. Because really what we're trying to do is just get the part to the guy that's got a broken truck as efficiently and as quickly as possible.
Tyler Robertson (14:07):
Yeah. So are you guys looking for more distribution and distributors at this point or are you guys okay with what you have or...? Where are you guys on that front?
Robert Isherwood (14:13):
Yeah. So the industry changing and once again, and so the distribution model, I think that is evolving very rapidly. And so we're always interested in talking with the forward thinking distributors who are really proactive and getting ahead of the industry changes. We'd love to have a conversation.
Tyler Robertson (14:30):
Yeah, no, that's great. So let me ask you another question here. What happens when you can't find the right part for a vehicle owner or fleet? What happens then?
Robert Isherwood (14:40):
Nothing good. And that's really the crux of the matter. You got a truck down, the drivers, and I've been there, is in a hotel for two or three weeks. Truck's full of stuff that's got to get somewhere. It's not happening. It gets really, really bad, really fast. Very expensive.
Tyler Robertson (14:58):
So say someone's listening to this. Like, "Man, you know what? I would love to sell AMBAC's injectors and their componentries that they have." How big of a learning curve is it for them? If they know nothing about... Injectors, I really know nothing about it. I worked at OEM dealer. I just knew to... Here's the VIN engine serial number, I can look it up. Oh, that's my part. I know it's different in the aftermarket world. How steep of a learning curve is this for these guys to take on a new product like you guys sell?
Robert Isherwood (15:25):
It's not as hard as it sounds. And you can go to ambacInternational.com/aftermarket, and you can see of our initial training videos and stuff like that. So you can get some background information before you even call. Get some kind of context and understanding, and then give us a call and we'll do a couple of trainings and we'll talk through some things, talk about your customer needs and build a program around your solution.
Robert Isherwood (15:46):
So you can get there actually very, very fast.
Tyler Robertson (15:49):
Well, like I said earlier, I've been to your place. I've met you plenty of times met your employees. Class operation that you have going on there.
Robert Isherwood (15:55):
Thank you very much.
Tyler Robertson (15:57):
You guys really know what you're doing, and I know you're like us, you just want to help people get their trucks back on the road, quick as possible. That's what we're all trying to do. Because you know what I know, I don't want to hear my wife complain how we can't get certain groceries or certain things at the table. And I'm sure you hear too from people you know.
Robert Isherwood (16:11):
All the time. And it just frustrates me. And I have a lot of sympathy for the guy that's sitting on the side of the road, because I've done that.
Tyler Robertson (16:19):
It's funny. So for people listening, I didn't know you were a truck driver before, so a thousand questions there, but that's interesting. And we actually have the camera crew that's helping us here at HDAW. [Tex's 00:16:31] isn't in here right now. I've had him on my podcast. He does the camera stuff and videos but he was a truck driver as well. So it's actually amazing how many people are in our industry, started somewhere in our industry have gone up through it. And I think that's a real advantage though, because you know what they go through.
Robert Isherwood (16:48):
Exactly. And your experience on the parts counter. So you know exactly the problem because you lived that problem.
Tyler Robertson (16:56):
I got paid for 10 years to learn all the problems in the industry.
Robert Isherwood (17:00):
What an education.
Tyler Robertson (17:02):
That's like a reverse education maybe. I was actually talking to one of my executives today. I'm like, "You know what we should do? We should go find some repair shops around town and every new employee, I don't care if they're an accounting, sales customer service and just ask, can we just make them a service writer for two weeks?" Just so they can experience what goes on here. Because it's really hard to bring someone in, outside our industry and be like, "This is the problem." You try to tell them like, "This is the problem." Like, "Surely that's not a problem." Like, "It is a problem."
Robert Isherwood (17:33):
Because they'll tell you, "Hey, it's 2022. What do you mean you have to call for a price and availability?"
Tyler Robertson (17:37):
"What do you mean they don't answer the phone right away? I got a got voicemail." Welcome to our world.
Robert Isherwood (17:44):
Tyler Robertson (17:44):
We got a lot of problems. But with problems come opportunities. It sounds like you're doing that over at AMBAC. So let's just say this, if you've been listening to the Heavy-Duty Parts Report here, I'm your host, Tyler Robertson. Again, Jamie, we miss you. Hopefully we'll see you here at the next one. I know he is doing some more live events going on. Robert, are you guys going to be doing some other events this year in 2022 or is this the only one that's on the books right now?
Robert Isherwood (18:08):
So we'll be with you guys at the virtual conference. And we'll be at Apex. And then throughout the year we do training and actually we need to talk about a training program.
Tyler Robertson (18:19):
Robert Isherwood (18:20):
So you'll see us around and if you ever want to keep up with us, subscribe to our blog and you'll get all the updates.
Tyler Robertson (18:28):
And thank you for mentioning the virtual expo. So this year we're excited. We took our virtual expo, another company in the space was doing one. We said, "Hey, let's, let's do them together and do one really, really big one." So it's exciting times, I think for everybody. The evolution of everything, can't be happy for that you're currently doing, you've got to be a little bit better. That 1% better. We're trying to do the exact same thing. So you've been listening here. I've had Robert Isherwood with the CEO of AMBAC international. To learn more about AMBAC and their fuel injection products, visit ambacinternational.com/aftermarket. Again, Robert, thank you for being on the Heavy-Duty Parts Report.
Robert Isherwood (19:03):
Thank you very much. We'll see you.