ITPA Spring Meeting Day 2 – Chicago 2014

Day two of the International Truck Parts Association began with a tour of the NTN manufacturing facility. This place was a bastion of technological advancement. The amount of robotic labor that they have to produce such a wonderful product constantly measured by metrics to ensure speed and quality was a true sight to see (By the way, they produce over 45,000,000 steel balls each and every month, even for Chicago standards, that’s a lot of balls!).

After NTN we made our way over to S & S Truck Parts where the Hoffman family treated us to a wonderful lunch and showed us a most impressive facility and huge quantity of front collision replacement parts and an excellent production line of aftermarket PTO’s that I would put up against Chelsea and Muncie’s own operation any day. (Next time your on the phone with these guys ask them about their torque wrench process. You won’t be disappointed.).

The tour continued to Truck Parts Co., and their in house brand, Global Drivetrain. We were welcomed by a true American success story in Roy Berryman (Special brownie points to Mr. Berryman, born in Natchitoches, La and served his country at Fort Polk military base in Leesville, La). I found it fascinating how they used every available inch of their location to store inventory to meet their clients needs since 1938.

Our last stop of the day was at Wilkins Rebuilders Supply. They new it was late in the day and were kind enough not only to give is a tour, but to provide the entire bus with a couple of Miller Lite’s (This speaks to their salesmanship and knowing their audience. I am sure this move alone probably sold them $50,000 that day to a bunch of tired thirsty truck parts guys.). There I saw the largest group of core inventory I have ever seen. Engines, transmissions, diffs, generators, you name it, they have it. This impressive salvage and rebuild operation was something to see. They will be a great resource for cores for the Joe Gear Companies.

After the tours we had a dinner and and billiards event at Lucky Strike. The food was great, the pool was entertaining, and the conversation was even better. I had the privledge to learn a lot about S & S Truck Parts from DJ Hoffman, as well as hear all the industry insider knowledge from the one and only T.C. Berryhill, get a little parenting advice from Corey George of DT Components, and learn about all the vertical integration of K & R Truck Sales in Michigan from Duane Johnson. (Oh and by the way the billiards tournament was won by Tom Antonson from Vander Haag’s. He won $100 and the envy of the whole group. Rumor has it, that he won with some questionable ball hopping moves that I am pretty sure aren’t league approved, but still quite impressive).

Tomorrow you will get to find out what Rudy Niswanger and Oklahoma’s Entrepeneur of the Year have in common. (And no it is not that we are both extremely good looking and have started our own businesses.)