Saying that service is the key to the parts industry, Stu MacKay, president of MacKay & Co., focused on how changing service patterns are affecting the truck parts aftermarket.

“The replacement parts business is not a freestanding business," he said, speaking at Heavy Duty Aftermarket Dialogue earlier this week. "Parts demand is zero until someone turns a wrench. Service controls parts.”

He added, “Controlling service not only locks out other service suppliers, it knocks out other parts suppliers as well.”

Most buyers of truck parts rank availability and quality of service support first or second in determining which brand of vehicle they will purchase next, according to MacKay.

MacKay & Co. periodically surveys the market, and in the most recent survey conducted in 2011 (MacKay indicated it is time for another survey to get updated information), the total service labor market was 495 million hours.

“It is hard to put a dollar amount on that because of varying labor rates,” he said, “but if you assume $100 an hour for labor that is a $50 billion opportunity.” Paint and body work accounts for 27% of the service work performed, with preventive maintenance reaching 20% and brake repair 13%.

Although fleets indicate they want to outsource service work, 75% of repairs are still completed by the fleets themselves. Independent service garages are performing 9% of the work while dealers do 8%.

There also is a limit of how far fleets are willing to go for service, with either a one-hour or 40-mile maximum depending on the type of repair.

Fleets expressed three major concerns about outsourcing service work: quality of the repair (26%), cost of the repair (26%) and time lost because of the repair (24%).

In the four fleet studies MacKay & Co. has done over the past 15 years, fleets indicate they want to outsource more of their service work, but they can’t find acceptable service suppliers and they are still looking for someone to take over more of their service work for them.