Want to Stimulate the Economy? Fix the Potholes!

According to a CNN poll released last month, nearly three out of four Americans think that much of the money spent in the federal stimulus plan has been wasted. Of course, most of us didn’t need a poll to reach that conclusion.

The stimulus, aka the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, was viewed as necessary at the time, but one year later try to find someone who has benefited from the $787 billion package.

“There is much skepticism that the bill is wasteful, full of politically-motivated projects, and has benefited fat cats at the expense of ordinary Americans,” said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

To its credit, the White House recently invited several CEOs and industry leaders to a jobs summit to address some of these concerns. The $660 billion truck industry was represented by Charles “Shorty” Whittington, former Chairman of the American Trucking Association (ATA). The ATA supported the stimulus, believing that a healthy percentage of the fund would be devoted to improving existing highways, and building new ones.

Thus far, that hasn’t happened. Only about 3 percent of the government money has found its way into road construction. That’s not enough – not by a long shot. Whittington urged Congress and the Obama Administration to expedite funding for ready-to-go highway projects, and to pass a long-term highway bill with significant funding for highway projects that yield national and regional economic benefits.

Of course, other industries are also making their case for a larger slice of the government pie, so we shouldn’t leave the ATA on its own in making our voice heard. Our industry has been hit hard by the recession; truck shipments dropped 25% from March 2008 to April 2009, and while the numbers are slowly climbing, the so-called recovery still has a long way to go.

If new highways can eliminate some of the bottlenecks, the trucking industry could save $19 billion every year. That money could be used to buy new fleets, new equipment, and put people back to work.

And the public is on our side as well. A CNN poll shows that 80 percent of Americans support spending stimulus funds to build or repair roads and bridges. If this sounds like a good idea to you, write your government representatives and let them know where you stand. Our industry directly or indirectly employs nearly nine million people in the U.S. If they hear from enough of us, perhaps some of that stimulus money will finally find its way out of the Washington sinkhole, and into the nation’s potholes.

Heavy Duty Aftermarket Week 2010

We’re just back from Las Vegas after attending our first Heavy Duty Aftermarket Week convention, and what an amazing four days it was.

All of us here appreciated the opportunity to meet so many of you who have visited our site in the past year, and to meet new aftermarket professionals and introduce them to everything that FinditParts has to offer. The conversations we had about what you need from an online heavy-duty parts marketplace will help us to serve you even better in the future.

We also felt HDAW 2010 was the perfect place to introduce customers to Ms. Parts, live and in person. And as those of you who stopped by booth 926 already know, she was kind enough to bring along a few friends. We like to think that all the traffic in front of our booth was a result of our reaching buyers and sellers in more than 150 countries, and providing the most streamlined and efficient means to upload a surplus parts inventory, but our lovely spokesperson probably had something to do with our popularity as well.

It was particularly gratifying to discover how many of you have taken advantage of our site’s assistance in creating inventory analysis reports on your business systems, making it even easier to identify your overstock percentages and to start turning those parts into profits.

Our sincere thanks to all of you who helped make our first HDAW experience so memorable. We look forward to seeing you all again next year!

How’s Business?

“It’s the economy, stupid” was a famous campaign slogan back in 1992, back when we all incorrectly thought politics couldn’t get any more contentious. It’s also the reason so many companies are in trouble now.

Theoretically, the heavy-duty truck parts industry ought to survive whether the bulls or the bears are in charge. In a down economy, such as the one we’ve suffered through the last 18 months, trucking fleets will postpone the expense of ordering new vehicles, which would result in increased parts orders to keep their current fleet operational. And when times are good, companies will usually take a percentage of their profits and invest it back into their equipment, which may include orders for enhanced/improved parts and accessories they might have passed on earlier.

So while any recession is going to hurt, it’s the companies that continue to offer outstanding service and a quality customer experience that will survive the hard times and thrive when times are tougher.

The FinditParts site was already years in the making, so why didn’t we wait to launch until after the economy showed positive signs of recovery? For us, the decision was easy. We had enough confidence in the size of our parts marketplace, the efficiency of our uploading and ordering process, and our attention to personalized service, that we knew once customers tried FinditParts, they would make us their first choice for heavy-duty truck parts, brake parts, and everything they need to keep the rubber on the road.

Still, it’s always better for everyone when the economy is solid, and that may be where we’re heading at last, at least according to Daimler. Click here to read Nowhere to Go but Up, an FIP article on the encouraging Daimler report and what it could mean for the heavy-duty truck industry.

All Hail Fredonia

To movie buffs, Freedonia is the name of the fictional country that is the setting for the 1933 Marx Brothers classic Duck Soup. But for executives in nearly every prominent trade, including the heavy-duty truck parts industry, the Freedonia Group is recognized as one of the top international business research companies.

Since 1985, Freedonia has published respected research studies that many companies use as a barometer of what to expect in the years to come, a means to determine market and sales potential, and a guide for how to prepare accordingly if the forecast is positive or negative. More than 90% of the industrial companies in the Fortune 500 use Freedonia research to help with their strategic planning.

This past April, the Freedonia Group released Medium- and Heavy-Duty Truck Market to 2013, an industry study with more than 300 pages of analysis on such topics as parts supply and demand, technology and materials trends, pricing trends, environmental regulations, and other issues that will have a profound impact on the heavy-duty truck parts industry.

The cost of the study is $4,600. There are plenty of companies who will not even blink at that price, given the value of the information contained therein. But for smaller businesses that aren’t used to paying top dollar for industry research, that charge might be out of reach.

Fortunately, Freedonia did release some of the conclusions of their research, and the numbers present a positive forecast for the heavy-duty truck parts industry in the next five years.

Read Outlook Promising for Aftermarket Heavy Duty Truck Parts, which summarizes the findings of the Freedonia Group report and what it means for parts dealers.

Safety Saves Money when Buying Heavy Duty Truck Parts

Technology breakthroughs in heavy-duty brake parts and truck parts can reduce accidents and save lives, and there is now legislation moving through both houses of Congress to provide a tax credit for the purchase of advanced safety equipment for heavy-duty trucks and other vehicles.

Whatever one’s personal political beliefs, perhaps most of us would agree with the theory that governments, whether federal, state or local, are much better at talking about getting something done than actually doing something.

Since talking about solutions doesn’t solve anything, and new laws or changes to old ones are few and far between, governments have recently begun experimenting more with a third option – paying people to take actions that Congress cannot legislate into existence.

Want to boost home ownership and stimulate the housing market? Offer first-time buyers a $8,000 tax credit. Want to boost the auto industry while promoting the purchase of more fuel-efficient cars? Create a “Cash for Clunkers” program. Want to encourage the use of environmentally responsible heavy-duty truck parts? Offer tax credits to manufacturers.

The U.S. Department of the Treasury and the U.S. Department of Energy will award $2.3 billion in tax credits to manufacturers of clean energy equipment. Qualifying manufacturers will produce a wide variety of products including solar, wind, and geothermal energy equipment; fuel cells, microturbines, and batteries; electric cars; electric grids to support the transmission of renewable energy; energy conservation technologies; and, for the heavy duty trucking industry, equipment that captures and sequesters carbon dioxide or reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

Making our roadways safer, and not just cleaner, is another issue being addressed via financial incentive. Technology breakthroughs in heavy-duty brake parts and truck parts can reduce accidents and save lives, and there is now legislation moving through both houses of Congress to provide a tax credit for the purchase of advanced safety equipment for heavy-duty trucks and other vehicles. 

Read our exclusive finditparts.com article, Heavy Duty Brake Parts, Equipment Bill Rewards Safe Driving , which explains the proposed legislation and what it means to fleet owners and trucking companies.

It’s Not Easy Being Green – Or Is It?

For a long time, the environmental movement was limited to a small minority of socially responsible activists (sometimes derisively referred to as tree-huggers) who proudly separated their garbage into paper and plastic while the rest of us could barely hit the trash can.

On what day do we celebrate Earth Day? If you know the answer, you were probably one of them. Of course, if we believe the news about climate change and diminishing fuel supplies and rain forests being chopped down for condos, it now seems like maybe those folks were on to something.

The rest of us have caught up now, and not just because our environmental conscience is speaking a little louder. The government and corporate community have banded together to find ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Other pending and promised federal legislation may require higher fuel economy standards, and may one day change what we pump into the gas tank.

But if we’re being honest, it’s the introduction of the profit motive that has really added more converts to the cause. From funding for greener vehicles to cutting the office power bill with task lighting, there are now a multitude of practical benefits that make sustainable green business practices good for the wallet as well as the ozone layer.

From time to time, FinditParts will explore a facet of how the trucking industry can reduce its impact on the environment. Read our first entry on Andersen’s new Eco-flaps. Keep checking back for more information that will keep you up to date on new product announcements and business practices that make it easier to stay in the green.

And by the way, Earth Day is celebrated on April 22.

More Than the Sum of its Parts

Chances are that Find it Parts is not the first online parts source you’ve explored.

To those of us who measure our time in this business in decades rather than years, it seems like yesterday that the task of finding, buying and selling truck parts was a strictly local enterprise, conducted over the telephone. Today it’s all about the Internet, and why not – that’s where we already turn for everything else as well.

The problem is that, on a search engine, good companies and bad companies make the same first impression. It’s only after you click the link and explore for a bit that you can start to separate the ones that will improve the efficiency of your business from those that simply waste your time.

What do customers want from an online parts locator and marketplace? That’s the question we asked ourselves, and Find it Parts is our answer. We understand that you want a place where the buying and selling process is easy, straightforward and honest; where searches for new, OEM, rebuilt and remanufactured parts bring results, whether you’re seeking a commonplace item or something more obscure and hard to find.

If you’re selling parts, and you know what you’ve got and what it’s worth, our job is to provide a place where you can reach thousands of buyers, without having to set up your own online marketplace. But if you’ve got some parts you cannot identify, we’re also here to help. Our cross-referenced site links parts with both the part number listed and any alternate part numbers, and can cross-reference an OEM part number into a truck repair aftermarket part.

Still not sure? Just send us a digital photo of the part, and we’ll track down the information for you.

If you’re buying parts, you want a global resource, so you can search suppliers across town and across the ocean. But you also want fast delivery. And if a part needs to be returned, you want the option of doing so.

We also created Find it Parts to be more than a parts locator and marketplace. We wished to design a site that would also serve as a source of industry news and information. Here you’ll find articles and blogs from aftermarket experts to stay up to date on the issues that impact your business, plus online training programs and clinics that can help you or your employees with system diagnosis or various repair issues.

So now that you’re here, take a look around. Find it Parts may not be the first stop in your search for a truck parts source, but we’ve done everything we can think of to make sure you won’t ever need to look anywhere else. Did we miss something? Drop us an email and let us know.