Current Affairs

The Grand Re-Boot - Shipping Issues with Steven Haas

Another in our series of Guest Blogs from our NTPDA Members. This has to do with shipping changes and critical information for our membership and our Steve Haas Image friends from Steven Haas of DLS Worldwide. Also if you would like to hear the audio of the news story that aired this week just click  the audio link below: 

IOB 29 March 2020 Steve Haas Transportation

As of this writing, over twenty states have made "shelter in place" warnings...

The good news is that auto, truck and tractor parts (new, used and remanufactured) have been deemed essential commodities so freight will keep flowing as usual.

These items have been deemed critical commodities because we can assist aid and assist in the uninterrupted supply of the essential replacement parts that keep ambulances, fire trucks and law enforcement vehicles moving not to mention the fact that the parts we supply are also needed to keep trucks and ag equipment running to maintain crucial supply chains that provide food, home deliveries and medical supplies.

The bad news is that more states will inevitably follow, and we expect the remainder of states to put similar orders in place within the first few weeks of April.

During the last several days, I have reached out to a number of Associations within these industry segments in an attempt to get a "pulse" of the situation and assess their respective supply chains. Pretty much all are reporting "business as usual" and that most of their members are still getting things done but sometimes in unusual ways.

One way to look at things is that this is a "Grand Reboot" for both people and businesses and that we have both an opportunity and a responsibility to re-invent ourselves and our business models.

And - we've been here before...when the internet went mainstream in 1995 it forced a somewhat painful and costly re-invention of both business and society, and we all ended up much better off with some incredibly useful technologies in place. Not far after, social media came into play, online commerce began to go gangbusters and now we have the underpinnings in place to both thrive and survive in a challenging new world.

The following are a few simple recommendations that will help you keep your supply chain intact and eliminate complexities and costs:

Deploy a Multi-carrier Platform

For starters, if you’re not already using a multi-carrier rate shop platform you need to get one in place. The DLS platform (available through DLS and/or your association) provides thousands of quality carrier options for all major modes including truckload, partial truckload and less-than truckload (LTL) service. If a carrier suspends service on a national, regional or micro-regional level our customers have more than enough options already in place.

Keep Advised of Carrier Updates

You should also do your best to tune into carrier updates on a daily basis if possible.

The team at DLS Worldwide is doing our best to keep your association professionals advised of carrier embargos, restrictions and/or closures on a daily basis and are encouraging them to pass that information immediately on to you.

Call Ahead to Confirm Pick-ups and Deliveries

Communication is key!

We will do our best to keep you advised of the various carrier changes, restrictions and closures by state. If you need to schedule a pickup or delivery in one of those states we suggest you contact your pickup or delivery location to confirm they are operating and if they have any special needs or protocols for the carriers.

As of now, only a small percentage of our customers within the recycling and remanufacturing sectors have been closed (temporarily) but this one proactive measure can save you a considerable amount of time, money and aggravation.

Stay In Touch With Your Suppliers and Customers

Use those proactive calls to check in with your suppliers and customers to ASK them about their personal health and the health of their businesses. We are all in this TOGETHER so if you take the time to ask those concerned questions and perhaps share some innovative best practices it will help you strengthen and deepen relationships and build goodwill for the future.

Determine What you Can Control and Cannot Control

And finally - remind yourself that there are things that you can control and things that you cannot control. No one was able to predict the gravity of this pandemic but you can do your part to lessen its impact by following governmental recommendations and through the rapid re-invention of your business.

Please feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions or would like some suggestions about the rapid reinvention of your own supply chain or business. You can reach me at 612-296-1806 or online at steven.haas@rrd.com and I would be more than happy to share my thoughts and ideas.

You can choose to view this as a tragedy or an opportunity – I for one, choose the latter.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Steven P. Haas handles Association Partnerships for DLS Worldwide a 3rd party logistics company based in Chicago Illinois. If you would like to streamline your supply chain and fortify your carrier options he can set you up with a multi-carrier rate shop platform through your association partnership or in free-standing form. If you would like him to perform a courtesy rate review and/or supply chain evaluation you may reach him at the contact information above.


Open For Business

During the past week we at the National Tractor Parts Dealer Association (NTPDA) have been reaching out to our members and visiting about their business Open Sign and their families. We've talked to dozens of people and we're hearing that, compared to last year, business has been really good. "Farmers have been in the mood to fix and repair what they have and because planting season is coming up they are busy and they are buying", was one comment we heard often.

Meanwhile the biggest concern shared with us was that if business starts to falter what that might do to their employees. "I've never laid off a person since we started this business," said one of our members. "My goal is to stick with it. We had a tough time several years ago and we kept everybody working. I hope to do that now and into the future."

Commodity prices are also playing a part in how farmers are dealing with fixing and repairing their equipment. One of our members told us, "You know, if the commodities were higher maybe we wouldn't be so busy. Farmers have had a rough couple of years so buying new doesn't seem to be on the mind of many."

One of the very cool things about this association is that we all know each other, do business with each other and, generally, like each other. That always comes out in these conversations when we talk about family. It's important to them and it's also important to us so we talk about kids, grandkids, husbands wives and parents.

One final thought. Human connection is important. We've noticed that phone calls that may have been over in three or four minutes now linger as people want to stay connected and talk. It's been a pleasure to spend fifteen or twenty minutes talking business, family and friends. It's what we...do.

If we have not yet connected with you be assured you're on our list and remember on March 24 we'll celebrate National Agriculture Day.

Thanks for reading and stay safe and well. 


Right to Repair Makes National News

The National Tractor Parts Dealer Association support the concept of "Right to Repair". Recently, during a campaign stop in Iowa a Sestak Farm Iowapresidential candidate spoke about "Right to Repair". Here is that story

Last week Insight on Business the News Hour was covering 2020 presidential candidate Admiral Joe Sestak (right in the photo) at a farm just outside of Des Moines, Iowa. Sestak was there to outline his agricultural policy. One of the highlights of his presentation was the "Right to Repair" issue. Following the talk the Business News Hour reported the following story: (To listen to this clip, click on the player.)

Right to Repair Clip NTPDA Sestak 2019


It is impressive that "Right to Repair" is on the radar screen of at least one of the 2020 presidential contenders. NTPDA is not endorsing any candidate for public office. We are simply sharing what was heard recently in Iowa and then shared across the county.


A Financial Note from RBC Wealth Management

RBC Wealth Management is the investment firm for the National Tractor Parts Dealer Association (NTPDA) and we recently received this notice from our advisor RBC Logo Craig Shaver.

"With respect to the companies that are the subject of the attached equity research report, RBC Wealth Management is required to disclose certain conflicts of interest. Any such disclosures may be obtained by either accessing our web site at https://www.rbccm.com/GLDisclosure/PublicWeb/DisclosureLookup.aspx?EntityID=2 or by mailing a request for such information to RBC Wealth Management Research Publishing, 60 South Sixth Street, Minneapolis, MN 55402.

RBC Wealth Management, a division of RBC Capital Markets, LLC. Member NYSE/FINRA/SIPC.

Deere & Company - Tariffs/trade take a toll; Maintain Outperform: (To view the report, click the link below.)

https://www.rbcinsight.com/WM/Share/ResearchViewer/?SSS_B4287797E254397514D209F114D51E9E


Spring Decision Making On The Farm

In many parts of the nation farmers are already getting equipment ready for field work. As we check in with our members from around the world we're often caught by how so many farmers are facing the some of the roughest times since the early 1980's. With low commodity prices, for the fifth year in a row, and Tractor Memoriestrade issues times in Rural America are tough.

Just last week we saw a story from Reuters that growing numbers of grain farmers are choosing to shed their machinery and find renters for their land. As these older grain farmers are retiring, fewer younger people are lining up to replace them.

While auction houses are winning...it’s putting a major strain on the farming community and the entire agricultural supply chain.

Think of it...fewer farmers means fewer customers for seed and chemical companies, fewer machine buyers, and fewer suppliers for grain merchants. 

We've heard from several members that business is still good as many farmers seek ways to cut down on repair costs by doing more of the work themselves. We've also heard that some members are actively trying to find ways to be even more assistive to their customers.

We're all in this together and times will get better. Our goal, as an association, is to continue to support our members and the many, many farmers that feed the world. Stay strong.

 

 


Retention, Recruitment and Workers Comp

We can all agree that the labor market is tight. There are HELP WANTED signs everywhere. Take a drive along any paved road and you'll Help Wanted Come In see them nailed on fence posts, written on billboards and scrawled on the sides of semi-trailers. The issue is serious and you would think any employer would use whatever they can to increase worker retention and recruitment. Even focusing on workers compensation.

What?

We get it...say the words "workers compensation" and eyes glaze over. But, think about it. If you have a solid system to deal with worker compensation claims you do two things:

  • Improve your employer/employee relationship with the injured party;
  • Polish your employment brand as being fair and concerned. 

The key is to take the time to focus on a system to engage the injured employee and the treatment facility all to make sure the employee returns to work quickly and whole.

Recently Michael Libbie, a long time member of NTPDA, shared an interview from his radio show, Insight on Business the News Hour, in which he had a conversation with a firm based in Iowa, Colorado and Arizona that specializes in Human Resource Management. By no means does the NTPDA wish to tell you to use the firm that is being interviewed. We are simply trying to share the information that could help you and your business retain valuable workers and build a positive message about your business which can enhance your  recruitment ability. 

If you would like to listen to the conversation just click this link. Then, consider what procedures you have in place to deal with workers compensation. We know our members can often be in a business where unintended  injuries can happen. We just hope you have a plan to deal with them.

In this tight labor market we need all the help we can get.

Thanks for reading and remember to make plans to be with us in January!  We've got a dynamite program coming together and you do not want to miss it! 


Natural Disasters, Oil Spills and Community Effort

Over the past month a number of our NTPDA members have had to deal with weather related disasters. In Iowa there has been a rash of flooding and then in Rock Valley there was a major oil spill.  Rock Valley is the home base of our President Scott Schelling. We sent an email to Rock Valley Flood 2018 Scott to check up on him. We thought his answer mirrored so many of our members and their communities that we're sharing it with you:

"Sorry for the delay in responding.  I have been out for over a week for various reasons including sandbagging and flood relief.  We are getting back to normal, the river is back in its banks but we still seem to get rain every couple days so it doesn’t go down much.  We set an all time record back in 2014 when the river got to 22.7 feet over floodstage.  This year we topped out at 21.5.  We were more prepared this time and we knew where and what to do so things went a little smoother, but ultimately we still got our butts kicked by the river.  We were able to avoid the major property damage with the work we did and most people just had to empty their basements Rock Valley Flood 2018 Twoand pump water.(they still are pumping water)  We took some steps after 2014 to prevent that same event in the future, we built a permanent berm on the north end of town to keep the river out and bought a couple huge pumps to pump out our storm sewers.  When the river is in flood stage it is higher than our storm sewers and cant run away so we have to pump it out.  And that takes a HUGE pump to keep up when you keep getting rain and everyone is pumping water out of their basements.  We also made some changes to make the river flow away better so it don’t dam up as high.  All the steps we took helped, but we still can do more.  I’m sure we will have more ideas to help for future events. 

 

The oil spill was just 6-7 miles upriver from us and I understand it was the worst oil spill in the US in the last 5 years.  The last number I Rock Valley Oil Spill heard was 230K gallons spilled, and as of last Thurs, only about 100k of that was recovered.  We could see oil in the river and of course it puddled up along the banks in the quiet water.  You could smell oil all thru town on Thursday and Friday.  We had to shut down the city wells to try to keep oil from getting into them.  The DNR has been out and testing dirt in places as the river recedes to see how bad the contamination was.  They have cleared the soccer fields and ball fields to be played on, they say the contamination was minimal in those areas.  The cleanup crew that BNSF brought in was excellent, they went right to work with cleanup and repair and last Thurs the trains were running again down those tracks.  We will see how long before they are finished with oil cleanup, but they don’t stand around, those people are here to work. 

 

The silver lining of it all is the way the communities come together to fight back against the water and how they come out to help others that are in need.  We again had several thousand volunteers from the surrounding towns come to us and help, and they still are coming to help people they don’t even know with cleanup.  This is the reason I love to live here, we don’t just throw up our hands and cry about it and quit, we show up any time of day, and help out people we might not know, and we stand shoulder to shoulder in chest deep water throwing sandbags all night, and we pick each other up when things seem like they are hopeless.  It is a beautiful thing to witness, and it keeps you going even after no sleep, or when your muscles don’t want to go anymore.  I love my town!!"

Scott Schelling - Rock Valley Tractor Parts


Helping In Forgotten Communities - NTPDA

When we received word that Harvey had struck the Coastal Bend Area of Texas it hit a nerve with our Board and our Members. Recently Coastal Bend Map we held a meeting near that area and our Board had an opportunity to interact with residents there. (You can click on the map to see the area.)

In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey it seemed like these communities had been forgotten as all the attention focused on Harvey Images Sept 2017Houston. This takes nothing away from the destruction in our nation's 4th largest city it has been awful. However, we wanted to help in an area we knew and where there was minimal assistance and focus.

The Board of Directors for NTPDA authorized a donation to buy generators, fuel cans and other supplies. Phyllis and friends loaded up a truck and drove to the Coastal Bend to deliver them. Buying, loading and driving took hours and the donated supplies were GONE in minutes.

Thank you to our staff and to our Board for your assistance in this effort. We have heard from several people in the communities we visited and they all extend their gratitude to you and our general membership. 

Giving back is often the very best feeling...ever.


American Workers and Hostile Workplaces

Last week we saw a national news story that shocked us. In a recent study of over 3,000 U.S. workers by the Rand Corporation, Harvard Man Angry Medical School and the University of California, Los Angeles one fifth of these American workers say they face a hostile or threatening environment at work. This can include sexual harassment, bullying and co-worker abuse.

That is a shocking number.

Some additional findings:

  • Nearly 55 percent say they face "unpleasant and potentially hazardous" conditions;
  • Nearly three-fourths say they spend at least a fourth of their time on the job in "intense or repetitive physical" labor;
  • Only 38 percent say their jobs offer good prospects for advancement and the older they get the less optimistic they become.

Why do we share this with you? Because we often hear from members that it is difficult to find workers to fill jobs even while the unemployment rate is at a 16-year low.  Could it be that working conditions matter?

How are things at your shop? If you are having issues in hiring and retention? Perhaps it's time to do a self assessment. Some thoughts on that:

  • The "Stay Interview" - Why do some of your employees stay with you and other leave? There is much you can learn from an interview with some long-term employees;
  • Your Employment Brand - While every business has a brand not all business know what their employment brand is. What do current and past employees say about your company? (In this age of social media it's important to know.) What can you learn from them by asking and then making changes;
  • Job and Performance Reviews - Do you do them fairly and do you offer employees an opportunity for feedback?

To be fair, not everything about the American workplace is grim. Workers enjoy considerable autonomy with more than 80 percent saying they get to solve problems and try out their own ideas. Moreover, 58 percent say their bosses are supportive and 56 percent say they have good friends at work.

The goal is to take the time and find out what you can do...better... to retain your employees and hire well qualified staff. Everybody knows that turn-over is costly and when your "employment brand" isn't positive it impacts hiring, productivity and profits.

If you would like to read the study we referenced, click here.

 

 

 


Online Sales Smash Retail Sales

For years many of our National Tractor Parts Dealer Association members found value in adding e-commerce to their sales efforts. Sure, it was a difficult Online Add to Carttransition and it cost money to staff call centers and online chat professionals but it has paid off because online sales are crushing traditional retail efforts. How do we know?

Let's look at one example...Wal-Mart. 

Retail giant Wal-Mart reported solid fourth-quarter results last week with the U.S. business producing another quarter of comparable-sales growth. But the star of the show was e-commerce. Get this, U.S. online sales for Wal-Mart soared by 29% year-over-year, an acceleration driven by the company's investments in the acquisition of Jet.com. E-commerce is still small relative to Wal-Mart's brick-and-mortar operations, but that won't remain true for long.

According to the Department of Commerce in 2016 total e-commerce sales in the United States rose by 15.1%. And that is far faster than the overall 2.9% growth in total retail sales.

We understand that our members are not Wal-Mart however the trend is clear. Your customer is just as likely to come from five states away than five miles away and those numbers will continue to grow. Your challenge is finding a way to build your digital business while continuing to serve your local consumer. It can be done and many of our members have been very successful in their marketing efforts.

If you would like to share your thoughts...please do!