Mark Schwabero will tell you that while price, weight reduction, durability and reliability are all key concerns between trucking fleets and their component suppliers, the issue of trust is at the very top of the list.
"In the trucking industry, relationships between the customer and the supplier and the level of trust they have is the most critical of factors," Schwabero, president & CEO of suspension maker Hendrickson International, told Fleet Owner during the recent Mid-America Trucking Show. "If we, as suppliers, go in and put a new piece of technology on their truck, to them that has the potential to lower their utilization rate."
Schwabero explained that the knock on the trucking industry is that it is too slow to use new technology and does not take into account how much of a trucker's livelihood is wrapped up in their vehicle. He said it is slow to change, but for good reasons.
"Homeowners don't switch that rapidly because their homes are typically their largest investment," he said. "It's the same for truckers. They are very conservative about new technology because it's a significant change to a large personal investment on their part. So they really need to trust the supplier to make that switch."
In terms of suspensions and related components, Schwabero said both vehicle and trailer customers have common concerns. At the top, they value trust between them and the supplier. Next is the need to obtain maximum uptime for the vehicle and trailer.
Third, both vehicle and trailer users want to reduce the weight of axles in order to haul more payload, but not by sacrificing durability. Service parts must be available 24/7 on a nationwide basis, and price as the fifth concern.
Schwabero added that for tractors, owner-operators in particular are very concerned about ride quality, willing to pay more for a suspension package that offers a better ride.