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Posted: March 21, 2013

Leading The Way With Innovation

BJ Leanse, national sales manager for Go Rhino Products and Big Country Truck Accessories, discusses his vision of the truck market and the new opportunities that are arising.

By BJ Leanse

Despite the job numbers and pundit predictions, overall, things have ramped up, and people are pretty upbeat. At all of the jobber shows that I’ve attended, people were looking for displays, for new items  and new opportunities to bring new things to their customers. That’s a big departure from the last couple of years when they were so depressed and so focused on just surviving that they didn’t have their  eyes open to new things.

A few years ago, somebody asked if I thought full-size trucks were dead. Not only is that not the case, look at the new Ford F-150 EcoBoost. There are going to be more  fuel-efficient vehicles coming down the pike that will satisfy consumers’ need for fuel efficiency, storage, and towing, all of the things that a full-size platform offers. While we may not see 16 or 17 million  vehicle sales in the near future, the mix and volume will continue to grow. So not only are full-size trucks not dead, there’s a strong road ahead for fullsize vehicles.

There are two distinct segments. There are the work and commercial vehicles, and you see the magazines featuring all kinds of work truck opportunities. And there are the utility and stylish accessories that people want to personalize their  vehicles. We’re coming through a timeframe where the vehicle manufacturers decontented many vehicles, which created big opportunities for the aftermarket. But the pendulum is always moving. And  there are some areas of the country where the factories are taking a more aggressive stance to get their dealers to purchase factory accessories.

Having said that, there’s still a lot of life left in top-tier  categories like towing, step bars, grille guards, and bed protection. And I think the marketplace is really hungry for innovative step-up products that offer features and benefits that either the factories are not  offering or that people would really prefer. In our case, we developed our wider, six-inch Widesider Platinum step bars that feature step pads made of a rubber compound that’s thicker than the standard  plastic step pad, and which provide firmer footing and aren’t slippery when wet. So for products that are innovative, that have real consumer benefits, there are big sales and profit opportunities for those  retailers and restylers who offer the best service and selection, and focus their creativity on how to best sell, market and promote their business to stand apart from their competitors. Over the next five to 10 years, there will be some peaks and valleys. But the tide’s coming in, and all boats are going to rise.

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