Heavy Duty Trucking Supplements

Truck Dealer of The Year 2014

The Fleet Business Authority

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Today's top dealers go far beyond just selling trucks in their quest to help customers survive and thrive transition to selective catalytic reduction technology to meet EPA's 2010 emissions regulations on particulate matter and NOx. For Reilley, as a Navistar dealer, "It's been a real adjustment, candidly. With the Cummins ISB medium-duty engine and the ISX big bore, it's greatly complemented our product line. With the evolution of our proprietary engine, the performance is outstanding, both relative to maintenance and fuel economy. It has been very well received in the marketplace." Nominee Donald Sherwood, dealer principal of Sherwood Freightliner, Western Star & Isuzu in Dunmore, Pa., explains, "We went through this terrible period when the technology couldn't catch up with the regulations, but we seem to be getting that behind us. Trucks and engines are becoming more reliable and your performance is more what you'd expect than it was three or four years ago." After some of the reliability problems engine makers had with some of the EPA-emissions engines, Sherwood says, "the engine manufacturers are much more careful with how the repairs are made. Everybody has long warranties now, and whether 2014 TRUCK DEALER OF THE YEAR it be Cummins or Detroit, they're very specific about how they want the trucks repaired and the steps they want dealerships to go through to make a conclusion." The next step for all OEs was the improved fuel efficiency and reduced greenhouse gas emissions as required by new government regulations for the 2014 model year. For the most part, the dealer nominees were happy with how their OEs have met the challenge of the GHG 2014 regs. Although there are price increases, they are more along the lines of normal year-to-year increases, rather than the huge jumps we saw in the previous decade with the particulate matter and NOx regulations. The nominees cited price increases anywhere from 5% to 12% higher. Because truck sales are remaining relatively flat, OEs are discounting, so the price increases have not been as dramatic as they might otherwise have been. "Prices always seem to inexorably go up, but I don't think we're seeing the sticker shock that we were a couple of years ago," Sherwood says. Larson says for some, even a small- er price increase is still too much. "All the emissions changes and GHG regs have come with a price tag. How much can everybody absorb?" He says many customers are opting to rebuild older trucks instead of replacing them with newer, more expensive models, pointing to the growing popularity of glider kits. The attitude, he says, is 'I know what I've got and what the fuel economy is, so maybe that's a safer bet.'" The importance of uptime "Uptime is so much more critical than it used to be," says nominee Tim Fyda, president and CEO of Fyda Freightliner in Columbus, Ohio. "Our customers have to be up and running. Margins are thin, and there's just not much room for error in the system. They've got to be so efficient." Successful dealers are becoming much more proactive in helping customers manage downtime. Treadway says historically, dealers in general have been "very complacent in structuring our business to suit our needs. We have to, if we want to survive, reverse that thinking. Our customers are counting the time that equipment is not running, in terms of days and even hours. So we have to view everything we do, all the services, the pricing, the way we invoice, how we collect, from the perspective of that customer." That's not necessarily easy. "Some of the large fleets now require us to FEBRUARY 2014 • HDT

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