Wheels Scott Singsank: Expert Solutions for Work Truck Fleets

Scott, tell us about Wheels’ cur­rent focus with respect to truck fleets.

We have been work­ing with trucks for 50 years. We are cel­e­brat­ing our 75th anniver­sary this year, and for the major­i­ty of that time we’ve been engi­neer­ing trucks. That is any­thing from Class 3 up through Class 8; any­thing from a pick­up truck or van with up-fit­ting, up to a Class 7 straight truck with a plat­form body and a crane lift.

Our focus with the truck mar­ket is help­ing our clients get to the right solu­tion. Find­ing out what their needs are, under­stand­ing their busi­ness and real­ly help­ing them get from A to Z faster. A prob­lem that we see in the indus­try is just long lead times for trucks. Our job is to find solu­tions that will help a client get a truck on the road faster when they need to replace one.

What are some of the com­mon issues truck fleet man­agers are fac­ing right now?

We have a num­ber of clients who have had a tough time stan­dard­iz­ing their fleet over the years. So many branch oper­a­tions have been giv­en carte blanche in the past to just go out and get a truck, no mat­ter how it is spec’d – just put it on the road and do busi­ness. What that caus­es inter­nal­ly is that there is no stan­dard­iza­tion with­in their orga­ni­za­tion. If they want to move trucks around or if they want dri­vers to go to a dif­fer­ent job, they now have to learn a dif­fer­ent truck and a dif­fer­ent way of doing their job. This is because they have too many dif­fer­ent trucks to use for the same type of appli­ca­tion. To alle­vi­ate this, we have helped clients real­ly under­stand what they need for the job in order to stan­dard­ize it across busi­ness­es, save mon­ey, gain effi­cien­cies, and real­ly help their busi­ness down the road.

What is your process of help­ing car fleet man­agers under­stand the truck mar­ket?

Our approach is to edu­cate them. They may not have any idea how to run a truck fleet, or even how dif­fer­ent it is. There are a num­ber of dif­fer­ent things that they need to know includ­ing GVWR, DOT regulations/implications and how to spec out a truck that is right for the job. Because of this, edu­ca­tion and a bit of hand hold­ing are key. We do that through the use of our truck engi­neer­ing group, truck oper­a­tions and site vis­its to under­stand what it is they want or need that truck to do. We edu­cate them about the whole process from order­ing a truck, to main­tain­ing the truck, to keep­ing it legal, to sell­ing the truck. It is a com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent world than your typ­i­cal fleet sedan.

What do you see ahead for alter­na­tive fuels and hybrids?

What I am see­ing in respect to fuels is that there is a lot of inter­est in it, but not a lot of action. We have very large geo­graph­i­cal­ly-dis­persed fleets. The prob­lem with those types of fleets is that alter­na­tive fuels are not avail­able every­where. For it to become a wide­spread solu­tion for our clients, it has to be a geo­graph­i­cal­ly dis­persed solu­tion. If that doesn’t hap­pen, then you have to look for oppor­tu­ni­ties else­where.

Maybe CNG is the right solu­tion in Okla­homa, but maybe a hybrid truck is going to be the right solu­tion on the East Coast where there aren’t as many CNG sta­tions and more city type dri­ving. We have sev­er­al fleets that are using CNG in spots where it makes sense and they have access to it.

I have not seen any evi­dence that hybrid pick­ups are going to be a major force in work appli­ca­tions because it reduces pay­load, so there is a usabil­i­ty prob­lem with it. Also, you don’t nec­es­sar­i­ly gain a whole lot in miles per gal­lon as com­pared to reg­u­lar pick­ups since the tech­nol­o­gy being used is a mild hybrid. I don’t think the right solu­tion is out there yet. Hope­ful­ly, it is being worked on in somebody’s lab some­where.

What sorts of trends are you see­ing in trucks and in truck equip­ment?

One of the trends that we have seen is the inter­est in CNG, par­tic­u­lar­ly from our oil and gas clients. They are out there drilling for it, so they want to use it. We are help­ing them find it where they need it and get the vehi­cles on the road that they need.

We are also see­ing an increase in costs. As trucks become more com­plex and the gov­ern­ment has more reg­u­la­tions on fuel econ­o­my and emis­sions, trucks are start­ing to become, and will become, more expen­sive as the tech­nol­o­gy gets infused in order to meet those reg­u­la­tions that are going to be forth­com­ing.

Anoth­er trend is that clients real­ly want to try to avoid DOT reg­u­la­tions as much as pos­si­ble. If they can down­size a vehi­cle that gets them under 10,000 GVW or under a CDL require­ment for a dri­ver, they are look­ing for ways to change their busi­ness to do that. They still want to remain safe, and they want to try to avoid as much red tape as they can.

How do you help clients reduce their truck weight?

It starts with under­stand­ing how much weight that they need. How much pay­load? What do they car­ry? How far do they car­ry it? How do they load it and unload it? From there you can back into how much pay­load they actu­al­ly need and then look into ways to reduce what drags down their pay­load. For exam­ple, do you need a lift gate on the back of that truck? If so, it’s going to reduce pay­load. It all goes back to hav­ing the right vehi­cle for the job.

What is a com­mon mis­un­der­stand­ing that fleets have with respect to their trucks?

Often, just not under­stand­ing the over­all spec­i­fi­ca­tions and maybe, in par­tic­u­lar, the height that they need in order to get a usable vehi­cle for their appli­ca­tion. Do they need it to back up to a dock? Do they need it to offload at a street side or curb­side or wher­ev­er? Get­ting them to under­stand how you spec a truck is real­ly going to make the dif­fer­ence. If they need a truck at dock height lev­el and they don’t get it, then they have a truck that they can’t use. Help­ing them under­stand upfront what they need is key in get­ting the right vehi­cle on the road.

What is going on with truck remar­ket­ing?

I am not as close with the remar­ket­ing aspect, but I do know that a lot of the diesel engines that are out there, that are pri­or to the lat­est emis­sion require­ment enhance­ments, are very, very hot in the mar­ket because they are less expen­sive. When they come out of ser­vice, buy­ers real­ly want to get their hands on those trucks, giv­en that they have some addi­tion­al life remain­ing. They don’t want to pay more for the vehi­cles that have the new­er reg­u­la­tions on them. That is a trend that we see con­tin­u­ing for the next cou­ple of years until those vehi­cles kind of die off.

BIO

As a Senior Glob­al Account Man­ag­er, Scott Singsank works with both the Account Man­ag­er and the client to help under­stand each client’s needs on a glob­al lev­el. He then devel­ops an ongo­ing pro­gram that will achieve those goals and mea­sure over­all suc­cess. With a deep knowl­edge of the fleet indus­try, Scott under­stands the impor­tance of good cus­tomer ser­vice, project man­age­ment and strate­gic con­sult­ing. He is focused on help­ing fleets reach their goals, whether it’s man­ag­ing costs or increas­ing pro­duc­tiv­i­ty.

Scott has a BA in Lib­er­al Arts from The Uni­ver­si­ty of Iowa. He is a Cer­ti­fied Auto­mo­tive Fleet Man­ag­er (CAFM) and has com­plet­ed a Glob­al Account Man­age­ment train­ing pro­gram at the Uni­ver­si­ty of St. Gallen in Switzer­land.

[email protected]

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