State of the Aftermarket: Changing business channels

This is the third of a multi-part series that looks at the state of the heavy-duty aftermarket that will publish throughout the month of January. The first article, which looks at moving the aftermarket forward in 2014, can be found here. The second, a look at how political turmoil had an impact on business, can be found here

The aftermarket wasn’t the only one feeling their way through the early parts of 2013, within the trucking industry there also were areas of concern.

A struggling economy meant fleet utilization was down, and with fewer parts required, aftermarket OEs chose to keep production and inventory levels low.

Areas of growth were spotty, with the natural gas fields in Pennsylvania, the Great Plains and Western Canada providing the only opportunities for rapid sales development.

Business consolidation proved to be another area of concern. The independent aftermarket and dealer market experienced significant consolidation in 2012. Long-standing businesses in both channels were sold, and the shockwaves of those dealings caused concern throughout the marketplace.

The transactions didn’t change fleet and owner-operator purchasing needs but opened up the marketplace for those buying decisions. A substantial customer base was suddenly available.

“There was a lot going on within each of the [aftermarket] distribution channels,” says John Blodgett, vice president, sales and marketing at MacKay & Company.

Ultimately most of those customers returned to their previous distribution channels, but their sudden availability impacted aftermarket confidence, Blodgett says.

Weighed down by the insecurity, the aftermarket struggled through the opening months of 2013.

“There was a carryover from [the fourth quarter of 2012],” says Don Reimondo, president and CEO at HDA Truck Pride. “We never met our expectations then and it felt like we weren’t able to get ourselves back on track.”

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