ITPA Spring Meeting Day 1 – Chicago 2014

It is that exciting time of year again.

The time of year where men gather together to talk about competition, to see men that lead victorious lives, to be impressed by great stories of success that are forever written in the history books. No, I am not talking about Final Four, (for those of y’all that know me, you know I am not talking about basketball, do they even still play basketball? Is that still a sport? Geaux Chiefs!). What I am speaking of is the International Truck Parts Association’s Annual Spring meeting. Over the next three days I will be giving you a play by play recap of one of the greatest weeks in the heavy duty aftermarket industry.

Consolidated Truck Parts & Service, a Joe Gear Company, has been involved with the International Truck Parts Association for many years. This years conference, from April 2nd – April 4th, was a special one for me, not only because it was held in Chicago and I was able to eat deep dish pizza, (Pizano’s on state street, great stuff!), but because it is the first time I was available to attend as a full time employee at Joe Gear.

This meeting had it all. I was able to meet legends of the industry and guys my Dad has told me about for years like Glen Sanders, Greg Mundy, Gregg and Mark Chudacoff, and Rick Hoffman. The stories these guys can tell of this industry is something that I could listen to all day and night. The depth of wisdom in the group of men at this meeting was astounding. They were all so kind to share with me stories of my father and grandfather as well as a little insight into the past, present, and future of the heavy duty truck parts and service industry. I will be forever grateful for this.

The one and only Johnny Green, Joe Gear’s very own Ole Part Bird Dog, was on the trip as well and we were able to tour some of Chicago’s finest truck parts manufacturer’s and distributor’s establishments. We first visited General Truck Parts & Equipment Co.’s new facility and I was overwhelmed by the amount of quality inventory they have as well as incredibly impressed with the rebuilding operations. Also, the ride from General to our hotel in Mark Chudacoff’s Porsche, speeding through downtown Chicago was a lot of excitement (“Watch this! This is how we drive in Chicago!” – Gregg Chudacoff).

That night we had a great steak dinner at the hotel as we dined with a contingent from Vander Haag’s Inc. from Iowa. Shawn Andringa, the GM of the Spencer, Iowa location was quite entertaining and a wealth of knowledge. (If I this from one guy over the course of the week I heard it from all “I’ve got to go visit Vander Haag’s! They seem to have something special going on over there.” Indeed I do plan to make a trip to visit this wonderful company in the near future. Maybe their new Kansas City location.)

Tomorrow you will hear all about day 2 and find out all about the size of Chicago’s balls (Steel Ball Bearings, that is. Get your mind out of the gutter, this is truck parts, not truck private parts!)