IMT - Building From A Position Of StrengthWritten By: Mary Sedor
Article Date: 06-01-2006
Copyright(C) 2008 Associated Equipment Distributors. All Rights Reserved.
"The only thing stronger than our products is our dealer network."
Field service trucks are a necessary part of every dealer's business. Whether with preventive maintenance or emergency repairs, both anticipating and responding to a customer's needs is important.
Based in Garner, Iowa, IMT manufactures field-service and lubrication vehicles, truck-mounted cranes, tire-service vehicles, and other unique devices for construction equipment.
The company began in 1961 providing new tread designs for re-capping tires. By 1965, IMT offered a completely self-contained tire service truck that included a service toolbox, hydraulic lift-gate and calcium chloride system used to ballast rear farm tires. In 1971, they introduced the first truck-mounted articulating crane designed to handle large off-road tires. Three years later, IMT had a complete line of lubrication and field-service truck bodies for the maintenance and repair of mobile equipment.
During the next 20 years IMT's business grew, and by the 1990s the company had outgrown its factory. The company expanded its facility and integrated new CNC machinery - robotic welders, multi-stage paint systems and state-of-the-art lasers - drastically changing the manufacturing process.
The Importance of Input
Through the implementation of what IMT calls "show and listen" activities, the company has made significant strides in improving its products and services to meet the changing needs of the customer.
According to Mark Whaley, vice president of sales and marketing for IMT, "Critical-To-Customer" (CTC) measurements taken directly from its dealers have also resulted in tremendous improvement in the company's internal business processes.
Through the years, the company's key to success has been development of fully integrated packages - something customers requested. This includes the complete systems integration of the service body, air compressor, crane and ancillary equipment to all major chassis.
"Our ability to design application-specific packages has become very important as the needs of the customers are becoming very well defined," says Whaley. "If we look at the most significant changes in product design and application criteria, today's emphasis is on safety, environmental responsibility, productivity, operator satisfaction, payload and total vehicle life cycle costs. The resulting changes in product design have been dramatic."
IMT's SiteStar lube trucks, for example, were built based on customer recommendations for design flexibility, enhanced contamination control features, reduced weight and increased storage.
The trucks were recently redesigned with an additional 70 cubic feet of storage and polyethylene tanks that reduce overall vehicle weight. The patent-pending polyethylene tanks are 80 percent lighter than steel and prevent the introduction of particulate contamination into the fluid storage tanks.
Each SiteStar is equipped with a full-width rear service compartment designed for easy, well-lit access to the dispensing system. In addition, the SiteStar trucks are available in 300 different tank configurations for oil, anti-freeze, water, oil salvage, anti-freeze salvage, grease, and fuel.
IMT's commercial vehicle line includes the Dominator and TireHandler products. The TireHandler line includes the Predator tire-service vehicle and the Commander OTR vehicle, designed to handle tires for heavy trucks and larger off-road equipment. The company also manufactures hydraulic loaders, knuckleboom cranes, telescopic cranes, tire-handling equipment and crane bodies.
IMT is interested in speaking with AED member dealers regarding distribution.
"We are involved with the end users as a means of clearly understanding their needs and further build the relationship," says IMT's CEO Steve Fairbanks, "but our sales and support to those accounts is leveraged through our dealer network."
According to Whaley, AED member dealers set a standard in the industry, and are the type of dealers IMT wants on board.
"The link between the end user and our dealers is significant," says Whaley. "Many of our competitors have attempted to sell direct but have often failed due to the inability to manage end-user relationships and the after-sales support of the products. Our focus is on penetrating markets with those dealers that have the same commitment we do."
IMT is piloting a "Diamond Authority" program with a small number of dealers to improve overall channel efficiency and value to the end user.
"It is a philosophy that embraces a collective need to share a vision regarding distribution management and development, strategic and operational health, and an understanding of our mutual obligations," says Whaley.
The company provides its dealers with strong after-sale support; tools to assist in needs analysis and quotations on IMT products; and IMT University, a web-based training and testing program for dealers.
IMT has also developed PM kits, extended warranty programs, and a web-based fleet management tool, that allows end users to track vehicle utilization and operating costs, and provides work orders and service reminders.
"We work hard to support our dealers - whether by developing individual end-user account strategies or investing in tools such as our secure website," says Whaley. "The only thing stronger than our products is our dealer network."
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