Scott Tetz, President at Truck Part Solutions Inc. (TPS), and Executive Director at ITPA, based in Canada, compares the truck parts and auto parts markets and how their company has the solutions to all your truck part needs.
My dad owned a commercial truck salvage yard in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. A summertime job where I picked bolts out of the office front’s gravel was my start in this industry. My dad believed in starting at the back of the yard and working your way to the front.
It was a great time in Alberta. Oil was flowing, and we couldn’t get truck parts fast enough. People were lined up at the gate in the morning to get parts. Buyers from Southeast Asia and South America would wander in the yard with fluorescent paint marking parts for container loads to ship home.
Fast forward a few years. I graduated high school; the oil boom was over, and business was down. My dad was struggling with staff, inventory and sales.
The city had grown, engulfing the yard. We were hiring drifters to cut trucks, and despite repeated instruction, they would cut ether or hydraulic lines. Once, a truck caught fire resulting in our yard, complete with black billowing smoke, being featured in the news. In another incident, city workers traced hydraulic fluid through the sewer lines back to the yard, triggering an environmental assessment and problems with the bank which held our mortgage.
One thing that struck me is that most decisions went to my dad. Some of it was his leadership style, and the rest was because my dad just knew. He knew how much to charge for parts, which parts fit, and the parts’ location in the yard. When my dad left to drum up sales overseas, sales would plummet. This observation ignited the spark of inspiration for creating a computer system designed for heavy-duty (HD) salvage yards.
We looked at automotive software, but there are some big differences between the two industries.
- In the automotive industry, part of what you’re paying for is interchange. There is no interchange for heavy truck parts. When you go to a truck lot, what you haul determines your truck configuration. Trucks have significantly more configuration options, whereas automotive may choose the trim and decide on a 4 or 6 cylinder.
- There are many more part types in commercial trucks, like sleepers, extra fuel tanks, fairings, tandem differentials, etc. Automotive systems don’t accommodate these part types.
In the early 90s, my dad shut down the yard, which was a devasting blow. However, it added more fuel to the inspiration of creating software for the industry. I wanted to give owners the tools to run their yards better and easier. It’s great to have the dream, but I didn’t have the capital to build the software.
On March 1, 1994, out of a one-bedroom apartment, I started a fax service called Partslink. It was a ‘buy and sell’ for companies in the parts business. I ran this for ten years until I was able to start on my dream: building an HD system.
In 2006, we launched TruckPartsInventory.com. It was a simple system, braking down trucks while placing their respective parts (with pictures) in folders on the internet. Invoicing parts removed them from inventory and associated the sale back to the salvage truck.
Today TruckPartsInventory.com is yard management software, truck breakdown, VIN decoder, CRM, and marketing hub, all while being easy to use. The public side of TruckPartsInventory.com is interesting because it gives us insights into the HD parts market.
Our internet traffic has steadily increased due to the adaption of the internet in general. However, it is also due to lack of parts availability. We average 7,000-10,000 sessions per day. Hits, different than sessions, are calls to the server which hosts the website. Think of sessions as 7,000 to 10,000 people per day looking for parts—that’s a staggering number.
Most of our traffic comes from North America. Approximately 9% of our traffic comes outside of North America, where North American style trucks are used. (For the most part, North American trucks have a hood as opposed to the European and Asian trucks, which are flat-nosed, called cabovers.)
Some of the challenges we face in heavy-duty that all recyclers are facing.
- Telematics – when the truck throws a code, it sends a signal to the nearest dealer, taking the independent repair and parts companies out of the picture.
- Electronics – ECMs, ECUs, and other computers are being added. It makes starting an engine or other diagnostics harder and more expensive.
- Electronification – we haven’t seen much of an impact here but are continually warned it’s coming. Some of our customers dismantle electric city buses, and very little of it is resalable.
- Environmental & bureaucracy – regulations, stormwater rules, permits, business licensing from local and state/provincial governments are increasing. These rules are very burdensome for our smaller members. They lack the resources to handle the paperwork.
I love my job! I get to help small to medium business owners recycle heavy-duty trucks, saving millions of pounds from landfills. Recycling these parts reduces the need to manufacture more of them, therefore, saving resources (what resources are required to forge metal parts, for example?). I consider myself an evangelist for recycled parts, which is why in 2009, I accepted the position of Executive Director of the International Truck Parts Association (ITPA). The ITPA is a small group of dedicated members also evangelizing recycled and rebuilt parts. Many of the ITPA members are also members of TruckPartsInventory.com. It was a good fit and another way to give back to this amazing industry.