The Private Label Parts Equation

Fleets have more options when it comes to choosing parts for their trucks.

October 2014, - Feature

by Denise Rondini, Aftermarket Contributing Editor - Also by this author

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Many OEM all-makes parts program, like the one from Alliance, consist of maintenance, repair, replacement and accessory parts. OEMs are focusing their programs on frequent-replacement parts.
Many OEM all-makes parts program, like the one from Alliance, consist of maintenance, repair, replacement and accessory parts. OEMs are focusing their programs on frequent-replacement parts.

With the growth of all-makes (often referred to as private label or value line) parts programs, fleets have more choices than ever for fulfilling their parts needs. But do these programs offer real choices or just muddy the parts purchasing landscape?

All-makes programs aren’t new, although there’s been a proliferation of them in recent years. For instance, Navistar’s Fleetrite line has been around for 42 years, but it has recently been re-energized, according to Michael Cancelliere, senior vice president and general manager of North America Parts at Navistar.

MacKay & Co. recently asked fleets about value line brands and found various levels of recognition for those brands. For example, brands such as Fleetrite, Euclid and Alliance had higher recognition than others such as Road Choice, TRP and Rig Tough.

“Fleets who recognize the brands are using them,” says John Blodgett, MacKay’s vice president of sales and marketing. Usage percentages were as high at 80% for some of the more established brands.

The 556 fleets that participated in the study take into consideration a variety of factors when choosing value line products.

“While the age of the vehicle is important in the fleet’s decision,” Blodgett says, “it is really more about where the vehicle is in its life cycle for that particular customer. If a fleet that turns its trucks every five to six years only has one year left on that vehicle and knows when it goes to resell the vehicle it isn’t going to get any more money for the truck because it has a particular brand widget on it, the fleet is more likely to consider a value line product.”

OEMs aim for bigger piece of parts pie

The fact that fleets are holding onto their trucks longer is one explanation for the growth of OEM all-makes programs.

“It used to be that major fleets turned their trucks in three or four years,” says Dan Bambrick, private brand manager for Road Choice. “That has changed over the last few years, and now fleets are keeping trucks for as long as eight years. That means there is more opportunity to sell parts that may not be genuine OEM parts.”

One of the advantages of an all-makes program, according to Bambrick, is it provides mixed fleets with a one-stop shop for their parts needs.

Being one of the later entrants into the all-makes parts market, Road Choice avoided the mistakes of some of the earlier entrants, Bambrick says.

“The Road Choice brand is not what a lot of people refer to as a white box program where you have a cheap part, put it in a box, slap a label on it and try to sell it. There is more to our program,” he says. “The parts are good quality parts that are value priced over premium products and typically come with a one-year warranty, although some have extended warranties.”

Bambrick says Road Choice (which is owned by Mack) continues to build its product portfolio. “We are looking for more maintenance-type products like batteries. And we plan to introduce fan belts, wheel seals and bearings, radiators and brake shoes soon.”

Fleetrite is growing its product line as well, and according to Navistar's Cancelliere, in 2014 alone the company has added 20 new product lines, with another 25 planned for inclusion in 2015.

“The real growth in the parts business is to reach customers who don’t run our trucks or buses. They all have batteries. They all use fluids. They all have HVAC systems. They all have wheel ends.”

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