Industry Perspectives with Wabash National - Fleet Equipment Magazine

Industry perspectives with Wabash National: Information is thin stuff unless mixed with experience

Industry Perspectives with Wabash National Dick Giromini
Dick Giromini, Wabash National

The customer-centric leader of Wabash National Dick Giromini subscribes to the sustaining value of a positive “Wabash experience” and that it will provide to the fleet customers a transportation solution for efficiency, profitability and long trailer life. “The product must stand out; our goal is they’ll say ours is the best dry van in the industry, hands-down” Giromini says.

He feels that customers want and deserve a total trailer value experience—from up-front interaction by sales in the quote and order process and the company’s skills to identify the best specs for the application to the after-the-sale support from servicing, warranty and updates.
Well-managed fleets operate younger age equipment and a lower operating cost per mile. “Large truckload fleets are buying two-and-a-half to three [trailers] for every tractor, and they’re keeping them for eight to 12 years.

In a review of Wabash’s innovations legacy (more than 70 patents), Giromini displayed his passion and detailed how the company tailors its design and manufacturing prowess into values for its customers. Examples that he cites:
• Last December, the company produced its 500,000th DuraPlate van trailer delivered to Crete Carrier Corp. Giromini considers the DuraPlate to be a trailer technology game-changer, since nearly 40% of the top 50 truckload and LTL carriers use the company’s DuraPlate vans.
• The DuraPlate door succeeded the inferior plywood-lined design. “It’s like steel and it’s a hit with our customers,” he says.
• TrustLock Plus door system—ergonomically better and limits potential door damage. Not sticking out, tucked up within 3 in. of the sidewall—now the company’s standard door design.
• Repositioned the front corner lights to eliminate broken lights from overhanging trees—a customer request. The new design became standard, and Wabash saved the fleet $500,000 per year.
• A new trailer model (XD-35) was created to meet one customer’s demand for a trailer to haul steel coils on the inbound and finished appliances on the outbound. The Wabash design team, lead by Rod Ehrlich, senior vice president and chief technology officer, created a dry van trailer with a 35,000-lb. floor rating and a unique bull-ring attachment system. “It works perfectly and the customer was delighted,” he says.

So what’s the next innovation? A unique, bonded construction dry van series, which eliminates 4,000 potential leak points by removing the rivets, will be unveiled in late 2014. Plus, the series will offer truckload carriers an aesthetics improvement contributing to a dramatic billboard visual. “It’s the next wave—not a game changer, but an incremental step in alternative materials and construction. It’ll also be easier for repairs and replacement,” Giromini says

To remain future-focused, a senior team lead by senior vice president and group president of its Commercial Trailer Products Brent Yeagy is studying new design/ material options. The regularly reviewed intellectual property will surface new processes, technologies and materials. Giromini explains, “Costs will eventually come down for new advanced materials yet the performance must be there. Composites can save weight but they must deliver efficiencies, strength and stiffness. Our customers remind us of that all the time.”

So how can fleets be smarter trailer customers? Giromini suggests:
• Continue to help trailer manufacturers understand what happens to the trailer in use—not on a test stand. What are the unique environment and conditions?
• Establish two-way, collaborative communications with your trailer maker.
• Re-examine the trailer and undercarriage specs you’ve used for 10 years “just because.”
• Explain your exact applications, types of products hauled, intervals of inspection and maintenance.
• Take time to understand a trailer’s technology. “Admit you’d like to learn more and just consider our input based on thousands of customers’ evaluations,” he said.
• Visit the trailer manufacturer, even if only at an order’s pilot inspection. At Wabash, an Innovation Center provides innovations that “can be touched, not just talked about,” Giromini explains.

“Our responsibility is to continue delivering improved and efficient trailer designs,” he says. “Our industry has challenges—tougher regulations like hours of service, and issues like the driver shortage and the current CSA compliance. “The tractors and trailers must deliver. We stand by the premise: It’s not the fleet’s up-front costs, it’s what they pay over the course of time. It’s our job to help lower the total cost of ownership.

“More customers are grasping the trailer’s contribution. It’s integral to the fleet’s success. It’s in our DNA to provide a positive experience that will result in a real, live solutions for the customer,” Giromini emphasizes.

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