Leaker identified

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Updated May 15, 2019

By John Blodgett, MacKay & Company

Please don’t tell anybody, but in this column I plan to leak what is going to be presented at the annual Heavy Duty Aftermarket Dialogue (HDAD) 2019. The conference is co-hosted by MacKay & Company and the Heavy Duty Manufacturers Association (HDMA). It is a day of speakers and panel discussions with outlooks and reviews on the economy and heavy-duty aftermarket.

As a MacKay & Company employee, I have access to the presentations and what follows is me spilling the beans on the economic and aftermarket data to be presented.

Well, sort of.

As I write this, it is Friday, Jan. 25, 2019. HDAD is in three days. I recognize you are reading this in February (or later), I’m not really spilling the beans. And I would love to give you the inside track on the surprising comments and insights that came up during HDAD’s panel discussions, but my powers of foretelling are not that strong. Maybe it’s because I have a cold. I do know Truck Parts & Service will provide — or is it provided? — great coverage of all the news that was fi t to print from HDAD and Heavy Duty Aftermarket Week (HDAW).

As you also know by now (not public information on Jan. 25), the Wall has been built and was both constructed and paid for by Mexico. Mexico and their Latin American friends decided they could not take a chance that our dysfunctional Congress could easily enter their countries and cause similar havoc.

A design contest was held and the winning design for the wall is a 15-ft. high, 3-ft. wide aquarium stretching from the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific Ocean. It is see-through, which is apparently important, and has become quite the tourist attraction on both sides. There have been some small breakouts of violence over who gets to issue fishing licenses, but otherwise it has been a success.

But I digress. More so than usual. I think it’s the cold medicine.

Bill Strauss, senior economist and economic advisor, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago; and Robert Dieli, president, RDLB Inc., and MacKay & Company’s economist, spoke about the economy at HDAD 2019. In their presentations, Strauss states the outlook for the U.S. economy in 2019 is good. Employment, inflation, vehicle sales, manufacturing and trucking economy all look solid.

Dieli is more focused on the trucking economy and outlook; he’s a bit more cautious about 2019. He is concerned about trade and tariffs and impacts on the trucking economy. He thinks 2019 will be a challenging year for Truckable Economic Activity (TEA) but acknowledges challenging does not always mean bad.

My HDAD presentation was a review and update on the aftermarket. Last year was very positive for our industry. Fleet utilization was strong, prices were up, our indexes that track aftermarket parts sales of independent distributors and truck dealers were up for the year, as was our index for component manufacturers. In total, we estimate medium- and heavy-duty aftermarket was up 7.6 percent in 2018.

Our initial outlook for 2019 is good as well, with a positive short-term outlook for TEA through at least September (and potentially longer), with fleet utilization looking to continue to be good and other positive factors as well. In total, we forecast the 2019 U.S. aftermarket parts market to be up 3 percent over last year.

With this episode of leaking now on my ledger, I will likely have to leave MacKay & Company. Fortunately, I hear this skill set is in high demand at Wikileaks and the FBI.

John Blodgett has worked for MacKay & Company for more than 20 years and is currently vice president of sales and marketing, responsible for client contact for single- and multi-client projects. He can be reached at john.blodgett@mackayco.com.

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