Twenty years ago, in the wake of an acquisition, newly formed SAF-Holland made a strategic decision to focus on OEM sales. At the time, the move was at odds with the industry’s long-standing practice of installing firth wheels at truck dealerships or independent shops.
“As far back as 1985, Holland was a 100% aftermarket company,” said Carl Mesker, vice president, aftermarket, for SAF Holland. “But truck OEMs increasingly began to install fifth wheels at the factory, and the Holland company began to slowly transition to meet this new trend.”
In order to better serve this new market, Holland went on a buying spree, acquiring jack manufacturer Brinkley in 1991 and Fruehauf’s axle business in 1997. Neway’s air ride suspension business followed in 1999 and landing gear supplier Austin Westran in 2005. The following year, the company merged with SAF, and soon after, the company began to reevaluate its aftermarket strategies.
But after successfully meeting OEM needs, the need to provide better aftermarket support to fleets was obvious, Mesker noted. Today, SAF Holland’s primary goal is to make the experience of finding, purchasing and obtaining aftermarket parts so easy for fleets that they request SAF-Holland products on their next purchase.
In order to do that, Mesker says the company is currently rewriting its sales catalogs and maintenance manuals – some of which date back to the 1960s – while bringing its electronic catalog up to date and focusing on field sales and timely order fulfilment. “We are really stressing internet functionality,” Mesker said. “This encompasses objectives like quick and easy information for parts on demand, availability lookup, price checks, and freight rates. We’re redesigning our system to make sure fleets and technicians have intuitive screens and other user-friendly features to find the part they need and order it quickly.”
The effort is already paying off, Mesker said, with 13 brand-new SAF Holland parts catalogs now available and three older ones completely updated and rewritten. Additionally, a new aftermarket customer service call center is now up and running, with eight call specialists fielding around 600 calls a day. And a new, 115,000-square-foot aftermarket parts warehouse in Cincinnati has over 6 million parts in inventory. Mesker said the facility is currently shipping 500 items per day now, with orders received before 3 p.m. EST being shipped the same day.
The next step in SAF Holland’s aftermarket strategy, Mesker said, is to become a one-stop shopping center for fleets, including a new Gold Line of replacement parts such as brake chambers, shock absorbers, air bags, landing gear accessories and other items. “We understand that these steps are important for our customers,” Mesker added. “And our recent moves are a clear sign of what our priorities are and where we are going in the future with our customers foremost in mind.”