Selling to the trailer market

Management Lucas Deal March 20, 2013

A lot of time, money and energy are invested in the aftermarket on trucks. While that effort is justified, the trucks themselves aren’t the only pieces of equipment that require maintenance and repairs.

Trailers need work, too.

Aftermarket businesses that don’t maximize their ability to provide parts and service to the trailer markets are missing an opportunity to strengthen their business. In this economy, any possible avenue to strengthen a business is one worth investigating.

According to information provided by MacKay & Company at Heavy Duty Aftermarket Dialogue in January in Las Vegas, there were nearly four million commercial trailers in the United States in 2012. The average age of those trailers was 10.5, a full year increase from 2008.

While a first-quarter 2013 CK Commercial Vehicle Research poll shows new trailer sales on the rise, MacKay projections still see the trailer population remaining at or above 10 years old through 2017.

“I think that provides great potential for the aftermarket,” says Jack Scarff, director of service at Wabash National Trailer Centers. A 40-year veteran of the industry, Scarff cites improved trailer designs and usage plans among his reasons for optimism.

“[Fleets] are still purchasing new trailers, but when they do they want to keep them a lot longer,” he says. “I can remember a few years ago the life cycle of most trailers was five to seven years. Now fleets are looking for trailers that will last up to 10 years. I’ve seen some that want to push that out to 12 years.”

To keep a trailer on the road that long, the aftermarket becomes a necessity.

Scarff says one of the most rapidly growing areas of trailer aftermarket is mobile service. Fleets are taking trailers longer distances than ever before, switching out trucks while making cross-country trips, and putting stress on drivers to be aware when maintenance is required.

A service provider can minimize that stress by sending someone out to regularly check on the trailer.

This is a common service in the truck aftermarket. Service providers have technicians travel to fleet locations off hours and perform maintenance on customer vehicles. Each technician is equipped with a truck filled with tools and components, and is given various levels of freedom to complete repairs.

View this article on one page