Every business is facing big challenges in today’s environment: global, economic, and regulatory burdens are evident everywhere. How you face and deal with those challenges makes all the difference. At the AmeriQuest Symposium, held in Orlando, Florida last month, a panel of executives from AmeriQuest Business Services, NationaLease, and Corcentric discussed how they plan to answer the challenges facing their respective businesses.
Moderated by Kate Freer, Vice President of Marketing for AmeriQuest Business Services, the panel consisted of Patrick Gaskins, Senior Vice President of Financial Services; David Nitzsche, Senior Vice President of Supply Management; Bill McCouch, Senior Vice President of Procurement Services; and Dale Tower, Vice President of Remarketing, all from AmeriQuest. In addition, the panel also included Jim Wright, Vice President of Sales for Corcentric and Joe Gallick, Senior Vice President of Sales for NationaLease.
Freer opened up the panel discussion with a question regarding the volatility of the global markets and how each of the participants felt that volatility was impacting how they and their customers do business. Each of the participants noted particular issues that they were confronting.
“We face an unusual business environment today which I would best describe as fluid,” stated Joe Gallick. “Uncertainty is the biggest challenge we have to deal with and uncertainty is often the enemy of solid, long range planning. With almost zero inflation and unforeseen low energy prices, you would think the outlook should be good, but the investment community isn’t feeling that. Right now, it’s wise to keep a steady hand at the tiller.”
Gallick also noted that NationaLease customers have to deal with so many variables, from asset utilization to driver shortages to new regulations, and more. And while technology can address many of these variables, there are just many options to choose from. The overarching goal is to help our customers gain the most use of their investments in technology and fleet equipment.
Bill McCouch commented on the vital role AmeriQuest’s procurement capabilities play in this changing global market. “With the sharp reduction in China’s growth rate, I think we’re going to see our markets flooded with Chinese product,” he indicated. “That means we need to show our customers what the total value of products are and not have this turn into a price war.”
Pat Gaskins noted that, “When fleets are evaluating asset financing options, they need to consider all aspects of the asset management equation when it comes to replacement. Whether it’s used equipment values, the cost of fuel, interest rates, new equipment costs, or new equipment performance, fleet managers need to consider a great deal more than they used to when it comes to an asset’s lifecycle. You really need to focus on all variables rather than on just one specific area.”
David Nitzsche said, “Many of our suppliers deal on the global market, so any time those markets fluctuate, it’s going to impact their businesses.” Also, Nitzsche notes that the way companies evaluate their assets has changed drastically. “It used to be relatively easy to predict lifecycle costs. Not anymore.”
According to Dale Tower, the OEM’s sold a much higher than normal number of class 8’s in the last five years. Many of these trucks have now completed their first useful life and entered the used market in very large numbers. As Tower said, “The net result is there is much more supply than demand and the market is now over-trucked. In the classic “supply and demand” economics model, only one thing will occur which is a precipitous drop in used truck values. That has happened in a big way since the middle of last year. In turn, that has hurt fleets that want to replace their older assets with new but can’t now remarket those assets profitably. This is likely part of the reason for the softer market for new truck sales thus far this year.” He further expressed his concern that a faltering economy could make the situation even worse.
For Corcentric, the market conditions are quite different, according to Jim Wright.”The market is actually quite good for us. The biggest challenge facing our customers is the need to constantly look to technology to bring value to the company. Whether it’s eliminating paper, reducing overhead, or simplifying the entire transaction process, our customers need to reduce costs and inefficiencies while increasing visibility and accuracy.”
What also became clear during the presentation was the important role technology plays in how AmeriQuest, NationaLease, Corcentric, and their respective customers Gaskins noted that companies have access to more data than ever before, but they need to know what to do with all of the data they’re accumulating. As he said, “These are challenging times and incremental gains matter. Every company needs to ask itself, ‘What if…?’ and continually update their strategy by analyzing their data in real time.”
Nitzsche spoke about the need for technology integration in every facet of the trucking industry, from vehicles to logistics to drivers. As he notes, “With the increase in regulations, things are going to move quickly between 2017 and 2020. And companies need to be ready. They’ll need to pick a technology partner to help them understand how to manage fleet maintenance in an increasingly digital world.”
Gallick re-emphasized the need to continually invest in technology and process improvement and how that would be the path that would lead to optimal results for both customers and suppliers. Key to maximizing these investments will also be the ability to analyze large sums of resulting data with real-time visibility to the things that really matter in your operations.
See how AmeriQuest will create value for their customers in Part 2 later this week.