Time to Regroup

All of us are in the parts replacement industry. As ton miles increase or decrease, so does the wear on parts on the trucks and trailers doing the hauling. Those worn parts are replaced as elements of a new vehicle, or in shops on in-service vehicles. PM is driven by miles of driving and ton miles hauled. With the big swings in economic indicators, our industry has been severely affected.

The housing crash took a significant amount out of the part of the economy that concerns us most, what MacKay and Co. refers to as Truckable Economic Activity. When TEA slows, our industry feels it first. It is estimated that between 3.5 and 7 million fewer truckloads of goods were hauled in ’07 than in ’06, due to the housing crash.

The parts and service segments had been holding up well through the 3rd quarter of 2008, but with the fuel price spike, the liquidity crisis and the looming proclamation of recession, even this part of the industry dropped off. It seems that the aftermarket has stabilized somewhat, but every company in the industry is proceeding with great caution. This demonstrates the wisdom that is inherent in this market segment. Most businesses in aftermarket parts and service have the entrepreneurial owner as the key employee of the business; being that close to the pulse keeps things very real for these "back-bone of the economy" types.

A challenge for many in the industry is having the ability to set aside the time necessary to stay current and continuously improving their business "tool-kit." New ideas, best practices, new technology, new business methods are all valuable to these entrepreneurs.

This is the basic concept for an event called HD Aftermarket Week, started in 2006 by a group of 10 industry organizations (now 13). The 4th HDAW is about to be held in Orlando, FL at the Rosen Centre and Orange County Convention Center is viewed as the key event of the year for these exact purposes. HDAW is a business to business conference that starts on the evening of February 16th with the Truck Parts and Service opening reception and concludes on the 19th with pre-scheduled one-on-one business meetings (over 1,200 in total) between suppliers and their distributors.

HDAW is the hottest ticket in town and promises to make the best of your already limited time to improve your business.

Visit www.hdaw.org for more information. See you in Orlando on February 16th through the 19th.