Bill Wade



The Role of the Heavy Duty Sales Function Is Shrinking and Being Redefined

As people costs continue to rise, jobs in which there is no offsetting productivity or value improvement are replaced by more efficient service options.

Patriots Do More than an Occasional Flag Wave

As I write this, it happens to be Veterans’ Day (Armistice Day to those of my age). Certainly one does not have to go far to see most media wane patriotic (some overnight)… and that is fine as far as it goes.

Creative Destruction and the Aftermarket

Mitt Romney talks a lot about "creative destruction". So did Karl Marx. If this were a debate, Mitt would have the advantage.

5 Major Areas of Advancement in Major Heavy Truck Technology Development

Trying to predict progress in the large number of components and functions that make up heavy trucks would burn out any crystal ball.

Heavy Truck Technology 2020: It Is Still About the Juice

Over the past few years, we have had the opportunity to work on emerging technologies being developed at several of the nation’s top university think-tanks and incubators.

The Role of the Salesman in Distribution Is Shrinking and Being Redefined

As people costs continue to rise, jobs in which there is no offsetting productivity or value improvement are replaced by more efficient service options.

Integrating Service as a Competitive Weapon

For distributors, especially those in the fleet trailer leasing and construction/farming equipment areas, service is a vital source of revenue, customer satisfaction and competitive differentiation

It‘s About ‘Local’ and ‘Details’

Consolidation is about to ‘claim’ another really smart independent distributor…

This Economy Is Not A Dress Rehearsal

As a manager in the heavy duty parts and service business, you also have some pretty big decisions as to what you see as the future of your business:

Time to Expand

8 ‘Expansive’ Product Ideas That Can Increase Differentiation.

Seen in the Lab, Soon on the Street

A look at the effects of the unbelievable speed of commercialization soon street worthy energy ideas will have on the truck market by the year 2020.

Prepare For The Square

The aftermarket has a history of being a fairly insular, some might say sub-optimal, approach to information transfer. Many of our systems are found in no other kind of distribution.

What’s the Chance that this Financial Crisis Was ‘Future-Improving’?

I am a firm believer that visions of a bright future are injurious to those who see nothing but the troubles of the past. Learn from history … sure. But wallow in it … Why?

Beware The Double Dip
Don't spend it yet. I guess it is OK to cheer the recent rebound in business... it’s a hell of a lot more fun than the gloom of the previous year.

"Ulla, ulla, ulla, ulla"
"As I crossed the bridge, the sound of 'Ulla, ulla, ulla, ulla' ceased. It was, as it were, cut off. The silence came like a thunderclap."

Standing Out In A Crowd: Building a Brand Is More Than a Logo
Craig Fry

People often talk about the value of a brand. But have you ever wondered how much your brand is really worth?

Even After the Last Ten Years ... Lots of Distribution Opportunities
Bill Wade

Business cycles are funny things. Defining elements just appear, but are usually recognizable only after the fact, when patterns can be ascertained and analyzed.

There's No Such Thing As "Right" to Repair
Bill Wade

How about a dispassionate look at the so called "right to repair" controversy?

Internet Support of Multiple Independent Channels
Bill Wade

Two recent news items caught my attention in thinking about evolving Internet multichannel support tools (probably the result of too much windshield time) ...

Welcome to the "New Kid"
Bill Wade

It is exciting to note that our historically insular truck parts and service business has interested someone enough for them to pay a very full price to buy themselves a seat in "our" game.

Most Major Innovation Will Be Driven by Fuel Concerns
Bill Wade

Good economists know the basic rule of good forecasting. “Give ‘em a date or give ‘em a result, but never both.” Since the forecast period here is set, let’s modify that rule subtly: Given the time horizon, here are some significant trends, but very few specifics.

Dollars Off or Discount Percent?
Bill Wade

Professors from Miami of Ohio and Indiana Universities have recently released studies of the ongoing effects of price cutting on future price expectations ... the dreaded “Shadow Effect” that restricts the ability to rebuild price levels after a promotion (or sales panic), something that is epidemic in the current downturn.

Failure Autopsy ... An Essential Innovation Tool
Bill Wade

The drive to innovate actually has a lot to do with the past. The 'old guys' stories of striving and failing then succeeding are often inspiration, as we spend hours dreaming up new products and distribution models that will change our world.

This Downturn Has Increased Distributor Value
Bill Wade

Fleets and independent repair facilities (and truck dealers, for that matter) haven’t been effectively leveraging the value of their distributors in terms of both direct and indirect savings.

Annual Plan Time... Let’s Try Non-Fiction
Bill Wade

Once again September sneaks up, and it's time to do ‘the plan’. Most everyone on a calendar accounting basis follows pretty much the same formula (at least historically):
9 months actual +3 months estimated = BASE YEAR + (inflation = price) + share growth + market expansion + mix upgrade = PLAN + 20% = BONUS BASE !

Suppliers and Distributors Can Take Advantage: The ‘Natural Laws’ of Inventory
Bill Wade

According to well trodden academic ground, fully supported by math and industry practice, the number of stocking points and overall inventory costs are related, but not linearly. The "square root rule" captures the nonlinear relationship between inventory and the number of stocking points.

The First Rule: Only Do What Only You Can Do
Bill Wade

I‘ve had a lifelong love affair with big machines. Steel forges and paper mills, draglines and haul trucks, large aircraft and huge ships, heavy trucks and locomotives… virtually any cool industrial or military gadget likely to show up on the History Channel’s Modern Marvels.

Fasten Your Organizational Seatbelts!
Bill Wade

A number of years ago, I had the good fortune to hear a lecture by the organization and quality guru W. Edwards Deming. It was plenty strange, because the talk was being delivered at a seminar presented by the Japanese Union of Scientists and Engineers... in Tokyo... because no Americans would listen back in the US!

What It Takes For Lean to Deliver Bottom Line Results,
Part 1: Strategic Issues

David Kwinn

If there is a criticism about many lean deployments, it is that although the efforts are worthwhile, the results cannot be seen in the bottom line. Many people see this is an accounting issue. Practical Lean Accounting by Brian Maskell and Bruce Baggaley looks at lean from an accounting point of view and points out how accounting itself can become a leaner process.

What It Takes For Lean to Deliver Bottom Line,
Part Two: Tactical Issues

David Kwinn

Presuming you can sell the extra product lean can enable you to build, several tactical issues need to be addressed to ensure your financial results improve. For example, a kaizen event may remove WIP from a line, but the event is really not finished until the kaizen team has found a way to make sure that the inventory impact will be properly recognized on the books.

Setting Priorities to Embrace Heavy Duty’s ‘New Normal’
Bill Wade

Recent turmoil in both the general economy and the heavy duty business should have put everyone in our business on the highest levels of alert for something we all know is coming - The Recovery.

When The Trend Line Stops
Bill Wade

Obama strategist Rahm Emmanuel famously advised that to waste a good crisis is to waste opportunity. Finally ... something that the new administration and I agree upon.

Setting Priorities to Embrace heavy Duty's "New Normal"
Bill Wade

Recent turmoil in both the general economy and the heavy duty business should have put everyone in our business on the highest levels of alert for something we all know is coming - The Recovery.

Today’s Heavy Duty Market: New Rules, New Tactics
Bill Wade

There is no question that we are now looking at a tough truck parts and service business in 2009. While politicians try to randomly borrow and spend our way out of our borrow-and-spend hangover, let’s resolve to never waste a good crisis.

Where Is The Gipper Now That We Need Him?
Bill Wade

Blind optimism is rarely relevant. Cheerleading is often recognized as just that. Being a "glass half-full" guy myself (difficult as a lifelong Cubs fan), I try to remain as positive as possible. However, taking a cautious or negative view of life has served an important evolutionary purpose ... both biologically and in business.

14 Common Office Inefficiency Profit Drains
Dr. David Kwinn

Here are some tell tale signs of inefficiency that may lead to process changes that boost both employee satisfaction and profitability.

Use This Slowdown to Make Distribution Thrive
Dr. David Kwinn

In light of the current market mandate for change, this slowdown offers a perfect opportunity to revitalize distributors’ business for both short and long term success.

Rethink “Business Intelligence” and Key Performance Indicator
Bruce Merrifield

The on-going, global, credit-bubble meltdown requires new thinking beyond cutting costs. But, new thinking requires new vocabulary to explain new concepts that can be both analyzed and managed by new, truly “actionable information”.

Cutting the Hidden Fat May Boost Morale and the Bottom Line
Dr. Dave Kwinn

Cost cutting efforts typically focus on the obvious targets: travel, sales meetings, advertising, overtime, etc.  But there may still be “hidden fat” that can be cut without causing as much pain as these more obvious targets. 

Creative Destruction Is Not Negative
Bill Wade

The universally negative specter of questionably talented politicians mocking business leaders in endless congressional hearings, while attempting to deflect growing guilt over the current economic situation, has me concerned.

Some Thoughts on the Next Wave in Heavy Duty Distributor Consolidation
Bill Wade

The basic premise couldn’t have been any simpler. Take a highly fragmented industry facing technological change, customer upheaval and chronic financing difficulties; then add in a few well-healed financial firms or (worse) a couple of previously unknown competitors from “outside the business”.

Chinese Chess: Six Major Moves in 2009 
Bill Wade 

With the tribulation in vehicle production and components manufacturing roiling the North American markets these past few months, there is a definite temptation to speculate further and on a wider basis than usual. Everyone knows "something’s got to give".

Tough Market Distributor Sales Strategy is Simple - Execute 
Bill Wade

Last week, I had the opportunity to participate in the annual Service Specialists Association (SSA) annual convention. The leading subject of conversation among both shops and suppliers- what kind of strategy works best in a tough economic market?

The Wiki-Alternative to Traditional New Product Innovation for the Aftermarket
Bill Wade

Historically, the vehicle aftermarket has been the birthplace of important new product innovation for passenger cars and heavy trucks. Huge advances in OEM design were first recognized on the garage floor or from the truck driver’s seat.

Congress, meet Chicken Little. Chicken Little, meet Congress
Bill Wade

Has a larger collection of negative, arrogant and out-of-touch politicians ever been in charge of an asset as dear as this country and its citizens? We are not talking ‘glass half empty’ pessimism. Rather, our elected representatives don’t even trust us to know how to drink from the damn glass.

The White Paper White Paper (pdf)
Craig Fry (with some help from Albert Einstein)

What is a Marketing White Paper? How to Write Them. How to Use Them. 

Brands Are Never Private
Bill Wade

While preparing for a symposium on national brands and private label products (PLP), an interesting thought occurred… Calling things private label or private brand is dumb.

Diesel Prices Are Due to An Oil Price Bubble
Bill Wade

Oil prices climbed to their highest level ever, reaching over $118 per barrel this week. Truckers are feeling this price spike in their saddle tanks, with diesel breaking the $4.00 barrier. An analysis by Goldman Sachs even suggested that oil prices might soar to $200 per barrel! Would diesel continue its historic rise?

Heavy Truck Technology- A Sure Thing Prediction: An Attempt to Clear Away the Oil/Energy Fog
Bill Wade

While I don’t think the Robber Barons of OPEC will be any more effective at price fixing over time than any other cartel historically has been (they all fall prey to human psychology), I do think that there is a long term concern.

Ten Years After.. And a 20/20 (or 2017) View of the Future
Bill Wade

Business cycles are funny things... some just appear (usually recognizable only after the fact) and patterns emerge. An interesting pattern in the heavy parts business seems to revolve around a ten year cycle of milestones beginning in 1967.

Companies Seek Advantages Provided By E-Learning
Kelly Holliday

Online training is quickly becoming the most efficient way to educate employees in almost every line of work. In a recent study conducted by eLearning Guild, asynchronous training courses taken online has become the second most popular approach to learning and training for small businesses, after print-based materials.

"China Syndrome" is Not a Key Issue in HD Truck Parts
Kelly Holliday

The concerns over Chinese quality that have been voiced after recent consumer product recalls does not deter heavy duty distributors and fleet customers from purchasing China-made products, according to a recent survey conducted by Wade&Partners.

Third Party Logistics: How to Avoid a Service Disaster
Kelly Holliday and Thomas Torcomian

A third party logistics provider (3PL) can be a great ally for heavy duty truck and automotive components manufacturers. Outsourced services now may include transportation, warehouse management, inventory replacement and order fulfillment.

Global Trends for Private Label Products (PLP) And Aftermarket Implications 
Bill Wade

Private label has become an especially hot topic in the automotive and heavy duty distribution businesses. Bruce Merrifield and Bill Wade are working on a joint project in this area, with an announcement of the results coming soon.

Consolidation Realities. A Guide Through the Minefields of Building Companies Thru Acquisition
Bill Wade

The basic premise couldn’t be any simpler. Take a highly fragmented industry facing technological change, customer upheaval or chronic financing difficulties. Add in a few well-healed foreign firms or (worse) a couple of previously unknown competitors from “outside the business”.

Dollars Off or Discount Percent
Bill Wade

Three highly respected professors from Miami of Ohio and Indiana University have just released studies of the ongoing effects of price cutting on future price expectations... the dreaded “Shadow Effect” that restricts the ability to rebuild price levels after a promotion (or sales panic).

Tires, Toothpaste and Truck Parts: Not Exactly Sam's Choice
Bill Wade

First, know that I don’t have an ‘I-told-you-so’ bone in my body. But the November, 2004 issue of this magazine carried a column detailing concerns with China as the end all solution for supposedly price sensitive heavy truck parts.

Turning Point
Bill Wade

This month marks forty years since Bud Reese and Jim Moss got together to form the Council of Fleet Specialists. That event was a watershed because it was the first formal acknowledgment of the unique business problems and opportunities shared by independents in the heavy duty field.

Is There Something Freaky About Heavy Duty Economics? 
Bill Wade

Economics is often derisively referred to as the “dismal science,” perhaps deservedly so. There is not much about the Laffer Curve or Liquidity Preference Theory that makes you want to run out and buy an Econ text for a little summer reading.

It Is Not Necessarily the Miner Who Finds the Gold
Bill Wade

Some of the most interesting stock market and private equity activity recently has been centered on a few of our distribution brethren, like Ferguson, Airgas, Activant, Barnes Group, Lawson or even Albertsons … not a notable China link among them.

Hoshin Planning for the Rest of Us (Everybody Needs a Compass)
Craig Fry

Here at Wade&Partners, we were writing a textbook recently on Lean Manufacturing for Distributors and when it came to the chapter on Hoshin Planning, we had one of those epiphanous moments that ... well ... just don't come along often enough.

Customers (Not Competitors Nor Technology) Are the Real Forces of Change
Bill Wade

The preference of buyer individuals, not external technology forces or competitive (onshore or offshore) tactics that will determine your future success. DUH! We knew that… kinda. What we may not have considered are the components of consumer behavior that can be actionable within our marketing strategies now.

Size May Not Matter After All
Bill Wade

The bottom 90% + of heavy duty distributors in most mature markets could make better returns by liquidating and investing in municipal bonds, because they are selling commodity products and undifferentiated, “good service” on a last-look, meet-the-price basis.

Post Bubble Economy
Bill Wade and Bruce Merrifield

Let's face it. This is a post-bubble economy. So what's a distributor to do? Learn some very enlightening management concepts in this insightful article co-authored by Bill Wade and Bruce Merrifield.

Affordable Education For Front-Line Employees of Heavy-Duty Distributors
Bill Wade

Aside from supplier-subsidized product training for the sales staff, most heavy-duty distributors “can’t afford” systematic education for their employees. Or at least, that’s what they believe.

Distributors’ Toughest Transition … Good to Great
Bill Wade

This is astonishing. The bottom 90% of HD distributors is probably making about one-sixth the pre-tax ROI of the top 10 percent. These 90% undoubtedly are working hard, but with flawed, unspoken success assumptions that make them undifferentiated price-takers.


What's happening in the trucking industry?

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The White Paper White Paper

How to write a marketing white paper.