For much of MAC Trailer’s history, the emphasis was on producing trailers, and the aftermarket business was more of an afterthought. Since the beginning of MAC Trailer’s Aftermarket Division back in 1998, the parts operation consisted of a small area carved out of the MAC trailer plant, and it existed foremost as a secondary supplier responsible for keeping the assembly line flowing.
However, that has changed. In 2004, MAC realized there is an opportunity to serve the local market and took action by hiring its first road sales representative. MAC part dealers from Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia within a 200-mile radius of the MAC Trailer Aftermarket Parts facility can experience daily or weekly visits from the road sales representative. This interaction between MAC dealers and the representative creates a stronger relationship, and allows for enhanced communication.
“Communication is the key to success” says Tony Sparks, general manager of MAC Trailer Aftermarket Parts.
While the parts operation still supports the production departments of the many MAC entities, it has expanded its horizons. The company has new capabilities for helping the MAC parts dealer network keep their customers up and running. To achieve those goals, the company moved into its current Rockhill Avenue NE location in 2009 and completed a new warehouse and training facility earlier this year.
MAC Trailer established its aftermarket parts company last year.
“We are standing on our own,” Sparks says. “Last year was our first year, and we did well. We serve over 90 trailer and parts dealers across the US and Canada. We are working hard to make sure we are carrying the right product for them.”
The company has expanded its space, built up its inventory, and ramped up its sales effort. In addition to serving its dealers throughout North America, MAC’s Aftermarket Parts operation sells retail to customers in the area, including all of Ohio, western Pennsylvania, western New York, and the northern portion of West Virginia.
“We used to have two guys on phone and one in shipping,” Sparks says. “Now there are five on phone and five guys in the warehouse taking care of shipping and receiving.”
The company added an internet sales effort in June, marketing some products on eBay. MAC apparel and accessories such as hats, t-shirts, jackets, coffee cups, along with scale models of MAC trailers are found on their eBay store (http://stores.ebay.com/mactraileraftermarket).
“We started in June, and were are doing okay,” Sparks said in late September. “eBay seems to be one way we can allow our customers throughout the US and Canada to purchase their favorite MAC apparel.”
With growth comes change and upgrades. MAC has set up an aftermarket company—and dedicated space—to do that. MAC Trailer Aftermarket Parts, Inc. has had its own home at the front of the MAC campus in Alliance, Ohio, for several years now. But MAC has taken several steps this year to get as much out of the 4,200-sq-ft showroom and new 20,000-sq-ft warehouse as it can. MAC Trailer has been investing heavily in aftermarket infrastructure this year, and it has been beneficial.
Some of the changes are simple geometry. You can get more storage area out of your square footage by increasing your cubic footage. MAC did that by installing a 14-ft-tall bin system and buying a forklift capable of reaching that high.
The company also is increasing capacity by reducing the amount of space dedicated to a necessary evil—the space between aisle ways. MAC reconfigured the warehouse with aisles that are only six-feet wide earlier this year.
The narrow-aisle concept only works, though, when the warehouse is equipped with special forklifts that can operate in tight quarters. Six-foot-wide aisles do not provide conventional forklifts with enough space to turn into the bin and move or remove the goods from the shelf. However, the company’s new turret forklift can. It travels the narrow aisles between the 14-ft-high bins. When it gets to the desired destination, the operator rotates the turret, positioning the forks to move in and out of the targeted bin.
“The key is the tow motor,” says Sparks, “It makes everything else possible. Things are nice and compact now. And the closer things are, the more efficient you can be.”
Also new at the MAC warehouse is an energy-efficient LED lighting system. An analysis by management indicates that the LED warehouse lights will pay for themselves in two years.
“The light that they produce is fine,” he says. “And we really are saving on our electrical consumption.
Program for dealers
Starting October 1, the company is inviting parts managers to come to dealer meetings and to register for training sessions that MAC is conducting.
“We don’t want to have just a once a year thing,” Sparks says. “We want to work around the dealer schedule. The key is getting them in here to see how and why we do things. Four dealers have gone through there.”
MAC recently opened a new training facility for events such as this.
“This facility enables us to bring a dealer’s or customer’s trailer into it. Some dealers often hire parts guys whose background is in truck parts—guys who don’t always know trailer terminology. If necessary, we can talk about that so that we can do a better job of communicating with one another.”
Also on the agenda: A discussion about the new Dropbox for dealers program. This, too, is designed to address a failure to communicate. “We have a Dropbox account where we put pictures of parts with part number,” Sparks says. “This makes it possible for dealers to pull up the photos to overcome the differences in terminology.” Dealers will also learn how to navigate the parts website, and how to benefit from the Aftermarket Parts freight policy.
“Our ultimate goal is to become more of a one-stop shop, focusing on speed and quality of service,” Sparks says. “We are picking up more truck product lines each year, based on input from the dealers. It’s important to us to know if we are missing opportunities. If a customer calls us to stock something, it’s a good bet that there are others wanting that same product. Communication is the key to success. If we can get dealers to communicate, if we know what everyone is thinking, we can stock and order appropriately.”
For more information check out MAC Trailer Aftermarket Parts Inc