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Martin's Peterblit

Peterbilt dealer says Eaton aftermarket parts rule

“Eaton's reputation for quality and their responsiveness has allowed us to offer a broader range of products for our customers. “

Justin Martin (left), operations manager, and Gorman King (right), warranty administrator,
Martin's Peterbilt.

Background

Dad had a darn good rule for his children.

Even though one of those children -- Justin Martin -- literally grew up in the shadows of big rigs in his father's truck dealership, Justin wasn't allowed to work there until he first got and held a job somewhere else.

"My dad wanted to teach us the value of what it means to work and not be the boss," recalls Martin, who went to work as a teenager for Walmart and then "mowed a lot of grass in the summer and shoveled a lot of snow in the winter."

Having completed his preparation for dad, Martin didn't exactly walk into his new job at the dealership and start giving orders.

"I've worked a little bit of everything here," he adds. "I started cleaning up, then buffing aluminum in the body shop, moved to parts, moved to purchasing. At some point in time I wore the hat of just about every position in the building."

That building is in London, Kentucky, headquarters to the now five-location Martin's Peterbilt, where Justin Martin is the operations manager. Three additional stores are dotted throughout eastern Kentucky and one more is in neighboring West Virginia.

That is coal country and the industry helped kick start the business that was founded by Martin's grandfather, Bert Martin, Sr., back in 1965 as a salvage yard and later became a Western Star dealer in 1987.

The company took another turn in 2000 and today sells and services all makes and models of Peterbilt trucks to help capture the lucrative linehaul market. They also sell two brands of trailers, tender complete financing, insurance and leasing packages, as well as customer support offerings covering everything from preventative maintenance to roadside assistance.

And that's not all. Martin's Peterbilt has a booming parts department with an inventory of $4 million in its shops every day.

Challenge

Representing a big part of that inventory are genuine Eaton replacement transmissions and clutches. Martin says that Eaton's aftermarket warranty, which is the trucking industry's best, has a lot to do with his purchasing decision. So is the performance he gets, noting the aftermarket parts perform just as well as those installed on new trucks.

Back in the late 1990s into early 2000, Martin says he experimented with aftermarket clutch manufacturers other than Eaton but ended that practice due to a lack of quality. "You really cannot out do an Eaton clutch," he adds. Most mechanical components on today's heavy duty trucks are subject to occasional failures. When that occurs, Martin's warranty administrator Gorman King gets involved.

"With a lot of our vendors it is kind of a crap shoot," notes King. "You take out the part, you send it back to the manufacturer, and they will make a warrantable decision in a week, two weeks, maybe a month down the road.

"So you have a situation where you are delaying the customer. Most companies won't make a warranty decision until they get the part back into their location. That can be irritating."

Solution

To remedy his frustration, King has a pretty darn good rule himself. "I love working with Eaton," he says, "and we do so as much as possible."

He says the average turnaround time for an Eaton warranty claim is about 30 minutes.

"For example, we'll pull a transmission, verify it's ours, find out the root cause of the problem, take a picture to show the failure, and send it to the Eaton call center," explains King. "I give them about 15 or 20 minutes and they almost always have an answer. "They say 'yes it's a warrantable failure' or tell me 'no it is not.' When it is, they tell me this is the time that we want you to put into the job and this is the labor rate. And it's all over."

Martin, too, is a big fan of the Eaton warranty, but he seems to like the warranty terms more than the speedy service that Eaton delivers.

"Over the last two or three years Eaton has been very aggressive with extended warranties," says Martin. "You can now get a three-year warranty on the clutch and transmission with an Eaton-approved lubricant with their Bundle program."

Genuine Eaton components, along with all Eaton aftermarket transmissions and clutches, are certified to meet or exceed OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturers) specifications. Dynamometer tests further ensure reliability and long life.

Result

"Eaton's reputation for quality and their responsiveness have allowed us to offer a broader range of products for our customers," says Martin. "Our most recent order was for 200 transmissions.

"They have also helped us out with our glider kit opportunities by allowing us to put a factory reman transmission and new clutch in there and get a threeyear warranty."

Eaton reliability and warranties have even helped Martin attract more interest from priceconscious customers.

"You're not really looking at that much of a price difference when you compare Eaton with a cheaper competitor," adds Martin. "Plus you can assure your customer that if there's an issue say in Kentucky and you bought the truck in Florida, you are going to be able to find someone locally to take care of it because it is under a nationwide warranty.

"With other vendors, you will sometimes have to take that truck back to the exact same place where you originally bought it. That doesn't sit very well with the customer, especially if you are in a linehaul situation."

Martin and King agree that Eaton transmissions and clutches will play major roles in the future at Martin's Peterbilt.

"I really believe Eaton helps bring customers into our facility," adds King. "Why wouldn't our philosophy be to keep doing business with them well into the future?"

Now that's a rule everyone can grasp.