Hello and welcome to 2018! I hope you’re as excited about the upcoming year as I am. After a tenuous 2016 the independent aftermarket rebounded in a big way last year, posting nearly unanimous year-over-year improvements for suppliers and distributors alike.
In conducting interviews for our state of the aftermarket report, I get the sense the distribution channel has weathered a tough stretch and is entering a growth period again. I hope that’s the case for each of you, or, at the very least, that you’ve positioned yourself well enough to leave the struggles of 2016 behind.
I think there is a lot to be excited about for the independent heavy-duty aftermarket in 2018.
The upcoming — or current, if you’re reading this at our booth on the expo floor — Heavy Duty Aftermarket Week (HDAW) is once again set to be the largest in industry history, complete with two new featured programs and many of your annual favorites.
In addition to HDAW, both market-ing groups achieved corporate mile-stones last year and have a variety of new initiatives scheduled to introduce to their distributor members and the industry over the next 12 months. In speaking with both groups late last year for our industry report, it’s clear to me that HDA Truck Pride and VIPAR Heavy Duty are doing everything within their power to support their stockholders in our increasingly competitive marketplace.
Make no mistake about it, the after-market is becoming a battle ground.
New suppliers from North America and overseas are flooding into the industry, pulling market share from longtime suppliers and challenging the distribution channel with both direct to customer and white box value-line products. Online e-tailers such as Amazon and eBay remain on the periphery of the industry, continuing to sell commodity products and high-volume items as they determine their best method for how and when (not if) they enter the heavy-duty marketplace.
And those concerns still pale in comparison to the battles you’re fight-ing in your business each day. Finding talented employees, improving delivery times, increasing warehouse efficiency, accessing repair training and tooling information all remain daily struggles in the aftermarket.
I don’t know that we as an industry can solve them all, but here at Truck Parts & Service, we’re going to do what we can to help in any way that we can. We have stories on our editorial calendar addressing all of these issues and others that exist in our market. Right now we are working with sources and conducting interviews, constantly searching for any edge that exists that we can bring to you.
We know this business is hard. We want to do anything we can to help — and we want to hear from you. While most of the issues mentioned above are hotly debated across the aftermarket, a number of articles found in these pages and our website also are spurred by reader suggestions. If you want to know why something is how it is, let us know and we’ll go investigate.
The aftermarket is on the upswing again and that’s great, but we can’t let pretty black numbers stop us from addressing our threats and concerns. If the aftermarket is to stack another great year on top of 2017 we’ll need to work at it. That starts today.
So, how can we help?