Work Truck Week delivers vital business insights

By: Todd Davis, NTEA Chairman
Phenix Truck Bodies & Van Equipment
Pomona, California

This article was published in the January 2019 edition of NTEA News.

Work Truck Week is just around the corner. After attending the event for more than 25 years, I appreciate how, each year, the stories, people, companies, products and educational offerings change. This week provides a real opportunity to not only discover new ideas but also get a genuine feel for the state of the industry on almost every level. The combination of activities and participating industry professionals never fails to create a fresh, exciting and enlightening environment.

At this year’s event, I’m looking forward to the debut of Manufacturer and Distributor Innovation Conference — scheduled Tuesday, March 5. This new event offers commercial truck and van manufacturers, upfitters, distributors and body builders of all sizes insights on improving manufacturing efficiency and business results. Anyone who works within our industry can discover how to make new technology, ideas and processes work for them. I’m certain programs of this type will provide insights and benefits to all of us in our continuous pursuit of excellence.

This new conference piques my interest as innovation matters to our team at Phenix Truck Bodies & Van Equipment. To give you some background, since 1978, we’ve been manufacturing specialty, high-content work trucks for Southern California municipalities, utilities, fire departments and the U.S. government. We offer complete fleet solutions with a suite of product offerings. Phenix partners with customers on all phases of equipment acquisition. Together with fleet managers, we establish specific body design requirements, integrate essential systems and equipment (air, electrical, hydraulic), and provide drawings, specifications and after-sale service. Our business model, including our breadth of products, manufacturing and distribution skills, design/engineering capabilities and customer-centric focus, have earned Phenix long-term relationships with some of our region’s largest fleet customers (including Southern California Edison, Southern California Gas Company, Los Angeles County Fire Department, Los Angeles County Department of Public Works, Cities of San Diego and Los Angeles, San Diego Gas & Electric and U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service).

In the roughly 40 years we’ve been in business, the industry has changed dramatically. In 2012, our company embarked upon an organizational transformation that expanded our product offerings, services and facilities. We began offering light-duty truck and van solutions and accessories of all types from the industry’s top manufacturers in addition to our own custom-built products. More than 45,000 square feet of production, installation and warehouse space was added to serve the region’s light-duty truck and van needs. Like every organization in our space, we recognize the need to constantly adapt and evolve to improve our market position. What change is possible? What new ideas and products are available? What’s the next change or innovation that can propel our company forward? Investing time with subject matter experts in a concentrated forum like Manufacturer and Distributor Innovation Conference will begin to help us answer those (and other) important questions. Attaching new technologies and innovative ideas to mature industries, like ours, is no longer an option — it’s essential to achieve success.

The ability to access and successfully deploy the most advanced technology, equipment and practices isn’t isolated to the biggest players in the industry. This conference is designed to expose everyone operating in our space — manufacturers and distributors large and small — to the most innovative tools, processes and resources available. The goal of Manufacturer and Distributor Innovation Conference is to educate and inform attendees on how these concepts could practically integrate into their operational models, providing fresh resources and ideas to accelerate business growth.

Tuesday’s agenda will feature a keynote address and general sessions covering multiple topics — welding as a core competency, using government programs to improve productivity, building a culture of mentoring, engaging a lean approach to foster an innovative environment, and developing a process to attract and train workers. Manufacturer and Distributor Innovation Conference registration includes access to Work Truck Show concurrent educational sessions covering subjects like using the Entrepreneurial Operating System to revitalize leadership teams, robotics as a productivity tool, shop floor measurement basics, welder training for the work truck industry, and hands-on activities in the areas of electricity and robotics. NTEA recognizes the value in education and training offerings as part of Work Truck Show and has assembled many options so we can all get the most from our week in Indianapolis.  

You can view a full list of the educational offerings and registration options at the Show — including Green Truck Summit, Fleet Technical Congress, Manufacturer and Distributor Innovation Conference, workshops, concurrent programming and special events — at I look forward to seeing everyone in Indy!