Trucking Risk and Insurance Podcast

Maintenance, Safety, Truck Drivers. How Do They All Fit Together?

January 21, 2022 John Farquhar & Chris Harris Season 2 Episode 16
Trucking Risk and Insurance Podcast
Maintenance, Safety, Truck Drivers. How Do They All Fit Together?
Show Notes Transcript

Jamie Irvine

On YouTube:

HDPR Linkedin:

Jamie Irvine on Linkedin:




John Farquhar
Summit Risk Solutions:
1 226 802-2762

Chris Harris
Safety Dawg Inc:
1 905 973 7056


Hey, how you doing And welcome to another episode of the Trucking Risk and Insurance Podcast, where we discussing and get some interesting people in this week is no different. John and I are blessed to have Jamie Irvine of the heavy duty parts report on the show where we learn the connection between saving money, parts, maintenance, and safety. So every driver, every operations manager and maintenance managers will want to tune into this podcast. Jamie, welcome to our Trucking Risk and Insurance Podcast. Jamie is like, oh, we're so irrelevant here. Some people think we're relevant, but really were not relevant at all. Jamie are far from it. Jamie, can you give us a introduction of you? You host your own podcast. What's the name of the podcast? What's your background? Well, first of all, thank you so much for having me here. I appreciate it. I always love to get a chance to jump on the mic. Although, as you mentioned, I have my own show. So I'm usually the one asking the questions. My, my show is the heavy duty parts report, and you can find that at heavy-duty parts And my background is in, is in truck parts. M I right at a school, I moved from new Brunswick to Vancouver, went to work for a small remanufacturing facility. And that's where I started to learn about, you know, the parts that go on trucks and equipment. And we were remanufacturing pneumatic valving. We eventually got into relining brake shoes and did a little bit of air over hydraulic stuff for, for mining and logging applications. And I, I spent 10 years at that company really learning the business and doing every job I started in the shop. Then I was a shop foreman. Then it was an operations manager. Then it was a national sales manager. And from there I started selling heavy duty parts, went to work for traction, heavy duty and worked for them for a couple of years and kinda got to see the, the, the warehouse distribution and retail side of the business. And I, I, I stepped away from the industry for a few years. In 2009, I started a contracting business and was able to successfully build that business up and sell it in 2016. And I was too young to retire and needed to do something. So I got back together with some old bosses who now work for TruckPro down in the state and said they were working for the Canadian division here and got back into selling truck parts. And that's when I decided after doing that for a couple years, that there was a real need for someone to focus on heavy duty parts in the podcasting space. And so I launched the heavy duty parts report in 2019, and now I'm a consultant that works with heavy duty parts companies and the host of my show. That's just like 22 years in two and a half minutes l. I mean, what's really interesting to me is your podcast and the fact that you are a consultant to the industry as well, but your podcast is so much more than just for the heavy duty parts stuff. For instance, one of the, the titles that I found really interesting, three ways to improve your truck performance. So who is your podcast for Well, ha that, that was something that I had to figure out as I went along originally. My thought was that when I was a sales account manager and I would bring manufacturers of heavy duty parts out into the field, we would go to fleets and repair shops, and we would talk to them about the parts that that manufacturer was responsible for, for bringing to the market. And we would have these great conversations and they would be talking about issues with commercial fleets and with, with, you know, class eight trucks and trailers, and the manufacturer reps would then bring that information from the street back to the manufacturing company. And then they would talk about how to address those issues. And that was kind of the, the ideas. Like, I, I love doing that. And I thought, well, if we could record these kinds of conversations, we could then make them available to everybody. And so as time has gone on, we've really narrowed in on, on three types of listeners. We have parts technicians, repair technicians, and fleet maintenance managers, and they're really the core of our audience. So we try to cover subjects, always looking at it from a parts perspective, but trying to cover subjects that are relevant to the vehicle owner, the commercial fleet, to the people who install the parts and the people who buy and sell those parts. But what the heck did you do? You had me as a guest on your show, and I know nothing about heavy duty truck park. That's true. Although, you know, a lot about safety and throughout the entire conversation, what we talked about was the relationship between good safety and the parts that go on a truck and the repair process to make sure that trucks are being repaired with high quality parts, that they are safe to operate before they leave the yard and how that impacts the overall safety of the fleet, which then overall impacts the total cost of operation. Because really that's what our show is about is it's how do we lower total cost of operation? And we do that through a lot of different ways up to, and including of course, buying high quality and installing high quality parts. It's definitely educational to be able to know what's out there, what good quality products are. Cause I know they've talked about many times offshore products, which can get you into trouble. And some people don't know which manufacturers are producing, you know, subpar products. Well, and when I was selling parts back in the early two thousands and working for that remanufacturing facility, one of the big threats at that time was the influx of what they at that time called offshore parts. Of course the industry has dramatically changed it. There really isn't a tier one manufacturer that doesn't have manufacturing occurring overseas at this point and quality parts, both on the tier one OEM side, as well as the aftermarket side in tier two, the quality of, of, of products being manufactured globally has come up a lot. And so in, in some ways it's very good, but in other ways, it makes it very difficult for fleet maintenance managers and procurement people to make good quality decisions on what parts they should be purchasing and installing. And one of the things that of course fleets want to do is control their costs. So they don't want to overpay when they don't need to. On the flip side for the, for the risk assessment people, they don't want to install something that when you're coming down the Cocahalla highway, you know, and your brakes give out and you have a major accident and it comes back to the fact that you didn't spec the right brake parts or something like that. There's that side of the issue. So there's a lot of confusion right now about what can be use, what should be used and what ends up happening is a lot of times, people just default to, well, I'm just going to buy from the dealer then, but then they drive their costs up exponentially when they do that. So, you know, you can't have it all and you have to make good decisions. And that's what we're really trying to do is educate the entire industry about what decisions they should be making, how they should put that decision process in place so that when they come up with whatever situation they're coming up with, they've got a methodology to go about making those decisions and, and basing it on good quality information. Is it still a couple of years ago? I remember reading and truck news. There was a huge influx of counterfeit parts. Can you still, is that still happening now where it looks like the real thing, but of course the price is 50% or less and you can't tell the difference. Is that still happening? Well, you, you rarely get more than you pay for. And if, if something is 50% cheaper than what you've normally been buying, and you've been getting really good performance out of what you've been buying, you should really stop and think about what came out of that product to get it to that price point, because you know how much it costs to ship it. And typically the raw material costs and the labor costs. These are the only three areas where you can take out. So it's one thing to say, well, we were able to reduce labor costs, then that is quite possible that that was achieved in an overseas market. But when it comes to raw materials, the raw materials cost what they cost. And there's a reason that good quality raw materials costs what they do because they have performance characteristics that withstand the huge range of environments that commercial trucks work in, in Canada and the United States. I mean, on a good hard day of driving, you can go through three or four different environments from, let's say the foothills of the Rocky mountains and Alberta to, to Vancouver. You can do that in one day and you've crossed the Rockies. You've gone through, you know, forest areas. You've gone through a semi-desert and you've gone through a semi, a rainforest all in one day, and you have thousands of feet of elevation gain and loss as you've made that trip. So the raw materials that make good quality parts, they have characteristics that are very specific to the environments that we operate in. Plus you have huge temperature ranges as well in Canada. And, and also down in the states, when you get into the Southern states and you get into the desert areas. So, you know, for example, rubber versus poly urethane, I mean, you just can't make all the urethane for what you can make a rubber bushing out of. And there's just no way to get around that because the raw materials are what they are. So when I S when I hear people say, yeah, but I can get that for 50 or 60% less. That is a massive red flag. They almost need to hear what they're saying. Yeah. W what are my, I know of somebody, I don't want to call them a friend or an associate, even, but I know of somebody who purchases off shore tires by the container and brings them in. And they're not a name that you, you are, well, maybe you have, but it's not a name, not a name brand tire. That's for sure that I'm aware of. And he sells a boat load of them. Wow, unreal. And he even has fears. And, you know, as long as like, I'm more familiar with, let's say brake lining in that scenario, very similar. I mean, as long as it passes the, the deity and national standards for, for performance, and as long as the customer understands what they're buying and where to use that product, it can actually be a good strategy. So, for example, if I have a yard truck, that's never going to see any grade at all. I don't want to spend top dollar on tires and, and friction material. I mean, why would I do that? Or if I've got a truck that is my spare, and it's only for a certain application, and we only use it once in a while, as long as the products I'm using pass the safety standards and the national standards set out for that product, it might be a perfect application to use that kind of product. But I don't want to then use that same product on a vehicle that is slated to go into the Rocky mountains tomorrow and then have, Yeah, just a little thing called somebody's life is I, you know, like, yeah, there's gotta be some responsibility there by all means. So, but I take it also with, with the podcast and, and your consulting services that you have as well. You also do some coaching or training, I guess, on how to use that particular product, if it happens to be a little different than another manufacturer. Well, the, the focus of my consulting work is, is it's interesting how this, this occurred, because when I, when I first started the show, my thought was that I was going to find ways to monetize the audience. I was going to maybe put some affiliate links, or I was going to sell some products or tools directly to the audience. And that was my, my thought process of where I was going to make money. I also thought about maybe starting some training programs, specifically for parts technicians and repair technicians and things like that. But what ended up happening is, as my guests, about 10% of them have become clients of mine. And their primary focus is, is like, how do we grow responsibly? How do we expand our market share? And how do we communicate the value of what we do to our customers? And, and a lot of them are, I would say, almost all of them have a distribution channel in place where they're not selling directly to the commercial vehicle owners or the fleets they're selling to a district distributor who then resells their product. So they lose a little bit of control on how these messages are communicated. And so I spent a lot of time working with clients on really helping them to build a relationship with the end user, the commercial fleet, the vehicle owner, the independent repair shop, build a relationship with them, communicating your value propositions in a way that that is going to really benefit them and empower them to make better decisions and get the full value of your products without creating channel conflict with your distribution. And so it's, it's a function of sales and marketing at the end of the day. I'm a talker. So that's where my strength lies. But, but, you know, as someone who had, who had his own business, who sold his own business, who has worked at every level of the, of the supply chain from manufacturing, all the way to retail, I have a really good understanding of all the people involved and how to go about doing that. So we have a methodology that we teach our clients that we work with them to develop that. And some of it does come in the form of training, you know, in some ways I'm training the trainer because I'm training who goes to the field, do that, have to do the training. In other ways, it's just a function of working with their team in order to make sure that they are getting the message out there to the right people and the right people are seeing it when they need to see it. Yeah. So regardless, whatever you're doing, you're educating somebody. Yeah. That's what I do. Yep. That's what John and I do all the time. Just, I might not train you, but we'll educate you. So we're recording this in the early part of January. And what challenges do you see for the, either your industry specific, the heavy parts or transportation trucking in general, whichever way you want to attack it, but what challenges do you see for the year ahead? I think the biggest issue is it's probably it's related to what you think I'm going to say, but it's probably not exactly what you would think I would say. So most people would think, I would say, it's the supply chain issues, and they're a big factor, but what I'm, I'm seeing a concerning trend that's starting already. And we're only a few days into January when companies are under duress. There is a lot of pressure on the leadership to make good decisions. And when things like the supply, the current supply chain issues where parts, availability has been dramatically impacted, and that's not going to ease up until at least the end of 2022. We also have the economic uncertainty with runaway inflation. We're going to have interest rates go up, which is going to impact try, you know, the feds are going to try to slow the inflation down, but when the interest rates goes up, then consumer spending goes down and that affects trucking because that it affects retail people spending money at retail, which then has a big impact on, on trucking. When we're in these situations where there's so much uncertainty, we have another variant of concern that is, you know, going across the entire continent, that's going to impact Truck Drivers, crossing borders from us to Canada, from us to Mexico. That's going to further exacerbate the issues with, with the supply chain. But the real underlying issue on all of that is, is how do commercial fleets and manufacturers of parts and distributors of parts? What decisions do they make under that kind of, of duress? And for example, I've seen some companies start to pull away from like sales and marketing efforts. Well, that's because they're so concerned about trying to solve problems on the supply chain side, getting raw materials for manufacturing, getting parts out to their distribution. Distributors are concerned with getting enough parts to just fill the orders they have. So you can see the trickle down effect. When you make a bad decision, though, under duress, it has a very bad, exponential impact, 12 to 18 months from now. So think about, like, for example, someone who decides, well, we don't even have enough parts to sell right now. We're going to back off on sales and marketing. Right. But what happens if three out of the four people competing for that market share, do that. And the one person doesn't yep. In 18 months you might be in a position where you were first in the marketplace and in 18 months, you're going to be fourth, which might as well be zero. Yeah. So, and there's th that's an issue whether you're selling parts, I'm sure that there's the same kinds of fundamental issues. If you're running a fleet, you know, bad decisions today under duress can have really big negative consequences downstream. I have a friend of mine who has a good phrase for that. Every behavior has an echo and a, and this is where it will come back to bite you, whether you're a distributor or whether you're the purchaser, you know, I've always thought, but when you have these situations where there's lots going on, you have this dress that you're talking about. This is the time to tighten your relationship with your customers and your suppliers. You need to know, I need to know I've got confidence in you. You're going to be there when men need me. You're going to tell me the truth. You're going to tell me, Hey, we've got a supply problem, but we're working on it. We'll keep you in the loop as to what's going on. Even though I can't get parts, at least I would know I'm being enlightened on a weekly basis. Here's the status. Oh God. We just got a shipment in. That's great. Awesome. Thank you. You know, but I think you need to keep those relationships tight. Yeah, you're absolutely right. And you need to have people who you can trust. Who's going to tell you the truth, not just tell you what you want to hear, because sometimes the truth is very difficult to, to handle in the short term, but in the longterm is always going to benefit you. One of the concerns I have on the commercial fleet side is we, okay? We don't have arts, we've got trucks down. It's, it's blowing up our, our downtime costs. We're losing revenue. So we're going to use that part that we never would have used months ago. Then we're going to send them to the Rockies. And then the truck goes up the Rockies or goes into the desert and has a catastrophic failure. And someone's life's at risk. Or the, the entire unit is lost because we lose. We, you know, we bloated engine because we didn't use the right cooling parts or something like that. This is what I mean by, by we have to slow down right now. We have to stick to the fundamentals that we know work. And we have to look at things from a much longer perspective than just this quarter. We've got to start looking at things from that longer timeline, because with a longer timeline, we will make better decisions. And right now that's my biggest concern. And I've just seen some evidence of some companies just making some early decisions that could have a real negative effect. And it's got me worried. Yeah. I can imagine If they use the same decision matrix or decision-making process that made them successful over the last several years, let's say if they continued with that, they would likely continue to be successful, but where you're seeing, or what I hear you saying, I think is that companies are changing their decision process to accommodate a, a short fix or a quick fix and quick fixes never seem to work. Yeah. Yeah. And I mean, there's a little bit of latitude for that because obviously we have to be flexible, but I just, anybody listening, just as a reminder, don't, don't abandon the fundamentals that we rely on to put out safe trucks that are going to operate and, and withstand the vocation that they're designed to be. And don't sacrifice short term to try to overcome a problem. And, and, you know, you end up saving a few hundred dollars, but it costs you tens of thousands or worse on, on the, on the long, on a longer timeline. So, Well, we never think of it until something happens. And the unfortunate aspect is we need to think of it before it happens, because it could be your family that's on that vehicle. That's in front of that tr truck with those inferior parts and he can't get that thing stopped. And he's squished. That's a good word because she come into that vehicle, you know, and it could be anybody. It could be the owner's family who knows, you know, it's not worth the risk. No, it's not an, and with the direction that we've seen with some of these nuclear verdicts and, and look at that verdict where someone who just got 110 years for a commercial for a commercial vehicle crashed that cost the lives of some people. I don't know all the details of that. I don't pretend to know that, but the, the public is not putting up with what they did in the past. And because of that, policy makers are moving to try to, you know, to meet public demand. And, and, and really what that means is, is that the trucking fleets need to be more diligent now than ever before. And with so much uncertainty, I know that's much, it's, you know, it's easy for us on the mix right now in studio to talk about that. It's another thing to be in the actual trenches of a commercial fleet and have to make these tough decisions. When, you know, there are parts shortages that are holding up. I've heard horror stories of trucks being held up for eight weeks because of sensors not being available. This is having a huge cost in the short term, but this is what exactly what I'm worried about. It's that there's all this pressure in the short term. And we start to forget the fundamentals, and we forget that if we make a bad decision, the long-term implication could be far, far worse than what we're experiencing in the short term. So can we flip that around and let me ask you this, what opportunities do you see for 22 Downturns are? And right now, you know, I mean, going into the year yes there's and yet there's a lot of uncertainty. The economic outlook for 2022 is actually not that bad. It looks like, like inflation is going to decelerate us as we get into Q3 and Q4. You know, our growth is, has been knocked down from, from a little above 4% to GDP growth of just under 4%. Something like 3.8 is what golden sack, just Goldman Sachs, just put out. So overall it's not like we're, we're staring down a riff, a recession or anything like that. But with the supply chain issues, there's a lot of companies that are really struggling. And so while, while the greater economy may be looking not bad, considering the pandemic and everything, the internal experience of, of companies inside of the trucking industry, maybe a little different, and that's not actually all that uncommon. The trucking industry is, is the Canary in the coal mine, when things are going really well in the trucking industry, the economy is about to boom. And when things are really rough in the trucking industry, sometimes that's a indicator that things are going to be tough in the greater economy. So one of the biggest opportunities is, is you sticking to the fundamentals and your competition not. So I would say the biggest opportunity right now is to execute well on your strategic plans for 2022, understanding that there's going to be a high degree of volatility and variability in, in you're going to have to pivot, but the closer you can stick to the fundamentals and the, the more that you can lean on those relationships, John, that you were talking about to leverage those relationships, the, the opportunity actually to come out of this really tough time in the trucking industry, and to be ahead of your competition is probably never greater than it's been in a decade. And so now is the time to capitalize on that. And there are some specifics, but again, without knowing your specific, but you, the listener, I wouldn't want to talk in any more specific terms, but, but generally speaking, anytime that there's issues in, in the economy issues, in an industry, there are opportunities because your competition just might make a mistake. And if you're in the right position, you can capitalize on that. Yeah. I was going to come back to what Chris had touched on a little bit earlier there, when he had mentioned about if what you did previously made you very successful now is not the time to shortcut that because when things get tough and when things get rough and whatnot now is actually the perfect time to enhance your maintenance programs, uptick, make sure your, your technicians are all up to snuff. You've got the right products and the right equipment to maintain your vehicles. Because with supply and demand rate now about ready to go through the roof because of the supply chain, it's going to be the guy who can stay on the road the longest. And if you've got parts, now that's going to cause you problems. You're going to be parked against the fence fast. You can shake a stick at, you know, and you're not going to be able to go over the mountains to deliver into Vancouver and pick up in Vancouver and take it out to Newfoundland. So to me, it's, it's, it's almost a no brainer rates are going to go through the roof. So we're going to be successful. So stick to that success plan that's been working for the last year and a half. Yeah. And, and demand is going to continue to outstrip supply for some time. And, you know, even if from a manufacturing perspective, we catch up and the ports are, are caught up and things get back to whatever new the new normal is going to be. We have another issue right now. We have, we have a shortage of 80,000 Truck Drivers. We're projected to have a shortage of 160,000 truck drivers by 2030. That actually has a impact on supply chain. Because with that shortage, we can't get products to the shelf fast enough. And if demand continues to outstrip supply, then inflation rates and interest rates are going to continue to be high. And this is going to create some additional economic instability in, in GDP growth and things like that. So there's a lot going on here and there's a lot of macro type things that have to be considered when then you make your decisions that are more on, on you on the micro level for your company. The one thing I will say is that I started my business, my contract in business in 2009 during the, the collapse after the housing crisis, it's a great time for investment. And a lot of, a lot of opportunities, a lot of wealth can be created during these tough times. And it's very difficult in a, in a real strong bull market to make headway because everybody's doing well. But right now, while there's so much uncertainty reinvestment into your company, like you said, back, put, put money back into your people, make sure your repair technicians are up to snuff with their training, make sure that your, your drivers are well taken care of, make sure that you are investing in new systems to make your vehicles operate better, to be, to be more efficient as a company, to be able to provide your service to your customers at a lower cost, not a lower price, but a lower cost than your competitors. Those are the fundamentals that you can focus on that really will help you to come out of this, this difficult time and, and ride the next wave, whatever it is, the next bull market, and be head and shoulders above your competition, because you invested in your people, you invested in the technology and the systems while not abandoning the fundamentals that keep the commercial trucking industry as really the backbone of society, which is what, Well, there, there's a phrase out there that I'm thinking of, but I'd like to change the phrase a little bit. And, and the phrase is usually the strong will survive, but I'm thinking, And John forgot to feed the squirrels. Again. He lives out in the rural, rural area. So we'll never know what John said. Well, I was going to be whatever he was going to say. I was, they're going to agree with them. Or as I was going to say, you know, the smart they do well, the people who, who are smart and who stick to those, those strong fundamentals that make this industry so great. Those are the ones that are always going to do well. Awesome. Jamie, I think that's a perfect way to wrap this episode up. We've been here with Jamie Irvine of the heavy duty parts report podcast, and Jamie is also a consultant. So thanks so much, Jamie for coming on the show. Appreciate it. Appreciate your time, Chris, John, thank you so Much. And your contact info and the podcast link is in the show notes down below. Thank you.