Young executives network lines up provocative panel

THE Orange County Convention Center scheduled a 100-seat room for the Young Executives Network's session, “Muddy Waters: The Changing Truck Equipment Distribution Channels.” And then the YEN notified the convention center that it might want to re-schedule the session for a room twice that size.

The YEN's panel discussion annually is one of the most popular educational sessions at the NTEA convention. And with a desirable time slot — 8-9:15 am Wednesday, just before The Work Truck Show opens — and a diversified panel, this year will be no exception.

Distributors and manufacturers will discuss their marketing and distribution approaches in light of a complex industry supply chain featuring distributor networks, manufacturers selling direct, manufacturing by distributors, chassis polls, and ship-through programs.

“It's a relevant topic for our industry,” says moderator Allen Birmingham of Tommy Gate Co in Phoenix, Arizona. “YEN's coming in with a neutral position — not one way's right, one way's wrong. We're saying, ‘This is what's happening in the industry.’

“Generally, this session gets interesting. We're not sure beforehand what the questions and answers are going to be.

“I think what you'll get out of it is that different companies with different products make the decision based on what they think is best for them to go to market. And maybe if you build van bodies, you might it do it the way Supreme does, but if you build something else, you might do it differently.”

To provide the springboard to a productive discussion, the YEN has lined up a panel that will reflect what is happening in the industry as far as the methods manufacturers and distributors are using to go to market.

On one end of the scale is Rick Horn of Supreme in Goshen, Indiana, which manufactures a product that is basically sold to fleets and dealers — direct selling that doesn't involve distributors.

At the other end is Jan Carter from Lodi Equipment in West Sacramento, California, which is an individual truck equipment distributor that doesn't have pools, ship-through, or multiple locations. It's family owned and, Birmingham says, “is fairly representative of what most of the distributors used to be.”

Then there is: Ken Lindt of Harbor Bodies in Brea, California, which manufactures service bodies and uses distributors, but also does some direct selling to truck dealers and fleets; Rob Parkhurst of Parkhurst Manufacturing in Sedalia, Missouri, which manufactures flatbeds, but basically sells traditionally to distributors; Gene Kohler Jr of Kranz Truck Body in St Louis, Missouri, which is a single location with a pool and ship-through; and Bart Conry of America's Body Co Inc of Oakwood Village, Ohio, which has multiple locations, ship-through, pools, and some of its own manufacturing.

“We've got some people who've been around for a while,” Birmingham says. “We work hard to get a variety of opinions and personalities.”

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