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December 11, 2011

A NASCAR win for Alliance Truck Parts

The Alliance Truck Parts brand continues to expand, with new products in the mix and an expanded NASCAR race season for car #12, driven by Sam Hornish Jr.

The Alliance announcements were made at a press conference in Miami, shortly before the NASCAR season’s closing races for the Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series Championships. The Saturday race saw Hornish finish in a very creditable seventh place, working his way through the field from a starting position at 13th in the 300-lap race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

The following day in Miami was an exciting close for the Sprint Cup Series driver championship with Carl Edwards and Tony Stewart starting the race separated by only three points. Stewart dueled with Edwards the whole race and in the final few laps the two ran hard and fast in the 1-2 positions with Stewart leading to the finish line. But that resulted in a tie for the championship, which was settled in Stewart’s favor with five season wins to Edwards’ one.

At the press briefing, John O’Leary, director of aftermarket for Daimler Trucks North America, said it had been a very successful season for the Alliance team. Hornish had won the previous weekend in Phoenix and had finished the season with two top 5 finishes and a further six in the top 10. In all, the #12 car started in 13 races, a very creditable performance, and Alliance will be sponsoring an extended season in 2012. The races will be decided in cooperation with the Roger Penske team that is responsible for the #12 Dodge, which is Hornish’s ride.

Citing the value to Alliance, O’Leary referred to the team’s appearance at the Michigan Speedway race where Alliance hosted five major truck fleet customers and the car was seen by 22.2 million TV viewers of the race.

Interestingly, it appears NASCAR is one of the top sports for owner-operator truckers. In a 300-interview survey, Alliance found that 70 percent were fans. And another survey found that the 75 million NASCAR fans are the most loyal to the sponsors of their favorite drivers.

Expanded Parts Line
The past year has seen much activity at Alliance, kicking off with a re-launch and a rebranding to include the words ‘truck parts’ in the brand name. Additionally, new product lines have been added through the year, including radiators, charge air cooers, ez clutches back-up alarms, radios, value batteries and brake chambers. The all-makes brand will see fuel tanks added in 2012, says O’Leary.

While Alliance Truck Parts is a subsidiary of Daimler Trucks, with Freightliner and Western Star, and Thomas Bus as its North American brands, Alliance carries parts for all makes of trucks. The distribution is through the company’s truck and bus brand dealers, amounting to 600 outlets not including the Petro truckstops, which also carry Alliance parts. These are supported by six parts distribution centers around the country with an inventory of $275 million in parts.

This, O’Leary says, shows the support for the Alliance brand, which seeks to supply quality parts and good prices. The purchasing power of Daimler Trucks means the top-quality, OEM-level parts in the Alliance portfolio can be sold at moderate prices so the Alliance customer gets a quality part at a good deal.

So successful has the program become that customers now come into the dealership looking for Alliance-branded parts. And it has been good for the dealers, too. Customers coming in for the fast-moving Alliance parts often also purchase the captive Freightliner, Western Star or Thomas parts that they might not have considered had they not been in the parts store for the fast-moving replacements like brake parts, clutches or batteries, for instance.

Dealer Support
As part of the Alliance thrust, dealers have been equipped with point-of-sale promotional materials and the year saw 55 dealer stops of the Alliance Truck Parts caravan, including the #12 race car (see sidebar).

Alliance created a smartphone GPS app to help customers find dealers. It was posted on YouTube during the summer (search on Alliance Truck Parts) and has gained a 2 percent increase in market share in the all-makes parts business.

For 2012, in addition to an increased race schedule, Alliance will add more products including U-joints, starters and alternators, 5th-wheel top plates and more, according to O’Leary. There will also be a new website, a parts number cross reference tool, and a phased rollout of brochures and on-line catalogs.

With so much activity, O’Leary says the Alliance brand has become well established: “We have gone from none to a growing awareness. We regard the race involvement as an investment in that success.”


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