DST Shows 12 Volt Opportunity in Fleets

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DST fleet ELD

A former Alpine marketing executive, Steve Witt, has teamed with partner Carlos Garcia, (who began his career at Circuit City), to launch a new fleet company, in one of the highest growth segments in the 12 volt aftermarket.

The company, Driver Safety Technology, DST, launched in January to provide fleets with safety products such as crash warning devices from Mobileye and DriveCam from lytx.  It is currently working on projects for more than 2,000 vehicles and its biggest problem is the need for qualified 12 volt installers with Class 7 and 8 experience.

The fleet technology market is growing at 110 to 120 percent annually for connected devices, according to Witt. “There’s a mad rush to being compliant with the new Federal ELD [Electronic Logging Device] Mandate.”  ELDs are replacing the paper log books truckers have kept by law since the 1930s.  An ELD synchronizes with a vehicle engine to automatically record driving times. It must be installed in many fleets by the end of next year.

The fastest growing commercial safety products are video telematics (connected DVRs), ELDs, and multi-camera systems. These allow a fleet manager to literally see into the cabins of the trucks on the road and observe the drivers.  If he manages 5,000 trucks, the fleet manager can isolate any one of them at any given time to view live.  He can see whether the driver performed his or her pre-trip check, track daily routes and track video of the drivers, plus track maintenance, fuel expenses and more.

For 12 volt shops who want to enter this market, it requires the time and attention of one employee for 20 to 30 hours a week in sales and business development, said Witt.

“A focused effort in fleet business could add 10 percent more revenue in a few short months,” he said.

Fleet managers “aren’t technology people.  They are worse than most consumers,” Witt added.  But the ELD mandate has helped at least make them aware of the many devices on the market. So there’s an opportunity for 12 volt shops to step in and provide their expertise.

But most car audio shops remain resistant to the new market, said Witt.

“We’ve been out evangelizing this vehicle tech safety thing for three or four years at KnowledgeFest.  [Dealers] haven’t responded very well to this message that there is a big opportunity here.  In the face of declining car audio and video, there are opportunities here to grow your businesses…”  But Witt noted,  “Many of the 12 volt guys had some interest, and they still have interest. They listen, but then when they start to really understand their business has to change to go after this commercial business, it kind of frightens them.”

He added, “All those 1,700 people at Dallas [KnowledgeFest]; they’ve made it. They successfully emerged from this massive sea change that our industry has been through over the last 10 years.  And some are wildly successful now in the new 12 volt specialty electronics world.  But then you dig a little deeper and find out why.  They have made some big decisions to truly change their organization to be relevant to today’s business environment.”  The same is true for the fleet safety market.

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2 Comments

  1. Hey John, totally agree…if you are using the traditional business model of retail brick&mortar to measure your KPI’s. I believe Amy’s story is intended to simply create high level awareness to a new opportunity for revenue in vehicle electronics. There is massive structural change in the aftermarket which includes the local commercial fleet deployments of video telematics, ADAS and IoT Portal FMS.

  2. If you’re an expediter and have proper staffing then this is a no brainer to add in your line up
    Steve neglects to mention fleet work does not properly pay when it comes to the labor side of things. There’s very little profit to made with adding fleet work with a small B&M location. You need the proper staff and techs in order to add this category. Dealers are not hesitant, they don’t want to waste an entire day just to make a few extra percentage points for the short term cause when you add it all up at the end of the year it’s just not worth the hassle.
    Dealing with all the headaches of fleet work as in trucks not showing up for appointment’s which happens all the time, then going back and forth trying rescheduling trucks, this happens all the time. An on top of that you also deal with with trucks out of service or being serviced off site at another facility, trucks braking down, and drivers always either showing up late or just not at all, these scenarios all come into play and these are constants when it comes to fleet work.
    Yes some places that just do this type of work can thrive and do well but it does not work for the small brick and mortar locations and not worth the headaches to add it to their existing line ups

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