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The right parts keep trailers on the road

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Providing OE-quality parts for trailers in a speedy fashion remains a high priority for Utility Trailer Manufacturing and the parts management team at its Parts Distribution Center in Batavia, Ohio, where they remain focused every day on meeting the parts-service needs of their customers who operate more than 350,000 Utility trailers through the 105 Utility dealer locations across North America.

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The trailer maker’s ongoing commitment to the aftermarket is crystal clear with its 250,000-sq. ft. parts distribution center stocked with $9.5 million parts inventory and more than 5,000 SKUs—structured to quickly fill parts orders (currently at 97% fill rate) to keep its customers moving freight and generating revenue.

Utility acknowledges that by supporting its dealers with the right inventory of parts, the company is simultaneously supporting their smaller customers who don’t operate their own shops and pull into the dealer’s location for assistance.

“Whether it’s sales, parts and/or service, our goal has always been to make it easier for customers to do business with us,” said Craig Bennett, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Utility.

To support its customers, the new PDC has cut an average of two days off its timely (weekly) delivery of parts from Batavia to its dealer network. “Our logistics study revealed a major reduction of dead-head miles and faster dealer deliveries,” said Michael Moore, Utility’s director of aftermarket.

The trailer OEM partners with its customer, Crum Logistics Services of Batesville, Ind., for its dedicated deliveries to all the dealers with items ranging from brakes and wheel-end components, to axles-suspensions, to repair panels-flooring and side skirts. The OEM also provides its dealers with a UPS prepaid shipping program for daily deliveries, if required.

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Utility’s aftermarket national account manager, Mike Resch, offered fleet managers constructive suggestions on trailer parts:

• Don’t use will-fit parts, they void the warranty. Think about it, the fleet’s front office spends time and energy specifying quality trailers and even spends extra money for particular upgrades. Fleets should likewise insist on genuine OE-quality parts that meet our original engineering specs.

• Consider taking advantage of a trailer maker’s fleet OE programs. Ask for it: It’s ready, it’s priced and in-stock. Leverage up-front getting that first-class support throughout the trailer’s life. Work with the OEM’s spec group to attain OE-quality parts—it pays off big time in uptime and performance.

Resch also noted that fleets have decreased their parts inventories and rely more on local distributors. “As [fleets] consolidate units and freight, they consolidate good people too. And we must keep our eye on this side of the equation because our industry needs strong, strategic parts people.”

Anticipating customer parts needs, Utility invests wisely in its parts center. It stepped up its market responsiveness, and included “green” factors like comprehensive waste recycling, electric forklifts, shrink-wrapping (for safer, more secure loads) and new energy-efficient lighting.

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The trailer OEM’s dealer parts council meets annually and reviews the importance of specific categories like customer service, technical support, website, catalog, product promotional programs, vendor relations and pricing.

“Our dealers applaud our service improvements and yet, to stay ahead of the growing online ordering and business, we’ll unveil a new ‘back room’ portal by the end of this year—much more robust to meet their needs,” said Moore.

Celebrating its 100th year in business, Utility has continued to invest in its four trailer types, side skirts and the related aftermarket support. “It’s a cradle to grave commitment for us, nothing less,” added Bennett, noting that customers rely on our dealers for trained, factory-authorized procedures, and opt for quality, OE-quality parts.

Del Eastman, general manager of the PDC, summed it up, “Our passion is to deliver the right, after-the-sale support (parts-service-warranty) so our customers can be profitable and maximize uptime.”

“We even have data that at a Utility trailer’s trade in, a dealer-approved repair will assure maximum (residual) value,” Bennett added.

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