Insights - March/April 2017 - 29
Suppliers Can Prosper
Using Multiple Channels,
uppliers who use distributors or sell directly to the intermodal market can utilize a variety
of strategies to position their products, including actions such as raising visibility through
IANA committee participation or capitalizing on new Internet-driven approaches.
Jim Sharkey, senior director of global sales and marketing at
Pressure Systems International, said the company participates
in the intermodal market as a product marketing specialist and
stresses the importance of participation through IANA task
forces and committees.
"The task forces and committees are a great opportunity to
not only help the industry, but also increase exposure to the customer," said Sharkey, whose company products are sold through
exclusive distributor and parent company Meritor.
Other suppliers have additional marketing approaches.
Hendrickson National Account Manager Bryan Boyd emphasized Hendrickon's pull through sales approach. "We don't sell anything directly to intermodal fleet buyers, but our goal is to get them
to 'request' our product through their OEM," Boyd said. Hendrickson
stresses reliability, low maintenance characteristics and integrated
solutions in their approach to the intermodal market, he said.
Sharkey said another effective marketing approach is obtaining favorable customer comments, which has been particularly
important because "what we sell is a discretionary product. It's
not like having an axle."
Sharkey noted an upcoming federal deadline, as well as
potential changes that are coming soon in a new federal rule,
which requires additional safety features on newly manufactured
chassis and trailers starting Jan. 1. (See related article, page 15.)
They will have to have automatic tire inflation systems or tire
pressure monitoring systems. Additional requirements will be put
in place for trailers. However, in light of President Trump's focus
on reducing federal regulations, there could be a change in the
situation before Dec. 31.
"We don't think this change is in the best interests of the
industry," Sharkey said. "We'd rather have our products grow
naturally in the market."
Part of the reason for that stance, he said, is concern that the
mandate will generate a new wave of lower cost providers whose
products could be substandard and less reliable. The opportunity
for growing tire solutions is substantial, since just 55 percent of
newly manufactured trailers or chassis have a tire inflation or
No matter what happens with the Environmental Protection
trailer and chassis mandate, Sharkey stressed that intermodal
businesses have shown themselves to be early adopters of
tire solutions because the short payback period appeals to an
industry that is so cost sensitive.
March/April 2017 | Intermodal Insights