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March 7, 2022 11:05 AM, EST

Fullbay, TMC Release New State of Heavy-Duty Repair Report

Patrick McKittrick, Robert BraswellPatrick McKittrick and Robert Braswell by John Sommers II for Transport Topics

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ORLANDO, Fla. — Supply chain bottlenecks and the ongoing technician shortage put a huge strain on heavy-duty repair shops in 2021, according to the second annual State of Heavy-Duty Repair report issued in partnership with Fullbay and the Technology & Maintenance Council of American Trucking Associations.

The report contains analysis of insights and trends in the commercial vehicle repair industry including demographics, revenue, the continued impact of COVID-19 and current industry parts shortages.

The findings were released at the Technology & Maintenance Council 2022 Annual Meeting & Transportation Technology Exhibition in Orlando on March 6.

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TMC is a division of American Trucking Associations.

During the report presentation, Fullbay CEO Patrick McKittrick stressed the impact felt by repair shops from the COVID-19 pandemic. In May 2020 during the height of the pandemic, U.S. commercial repair shops realized a year-over-year revenue decline of 23%.

“It is hard to overstate the significance of what this is. Remember, these shops are the lifeblood of the fleets out there,” he said. “The majority of trucks are repaired and maintained by ‘mom and pop’ shops; they need to stay running so the trucks can stay on the road.”

McKittrick noted there is a tension caused by the decline of the quantity of technicians and shops maintaining equipment juxtaposed against the rise of the quantity of equipment on the road.

“Fleets need this equipment running so that they can make money,” he said. “And we as a general public need this equipment to be well maintained (for our safety).”

The report also found that 82% of repair shops faced some disruptions due to supply chain issues, including parts shortages, with 14% of shops saying the delays were severe. In addition, 64% of shops found it either “much” or “slightly” more difficult to hire technicians, even while 73% of them increased hourly wages. Also, 83% of shops had annual revenue of less than $2 million, while just 19% experienced revenue growth during 2021.

The report’s data is based on survey responses from more than 900 individuals across all avenues of the commercial freight, logistics and repair industries. In addition, more than 500 shops across North America using the Fullbay shop management platform were sampled for real-world shop data. Results were anonymized and those surveyed included both customers of Fullbay and noncustomers.

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“At TMC, we have been helping industry professionals improve maintenance and maintenance management for decades, and this report is an excellent way to better accomplish that goal,” said TMC Executive Director Robert Braswell. “Facing obstacles isn’t new for repair shops; our recommended practices, which are included throughout the report, offer proper assistance for repair shops looking for guidance dealing with these challenges.”

McKittrick added that while the need for technicians remains a concern, the industry must concentrate on better utilizing the technicians’ time and value their efforts while working in the repair shop.

“This year’s report provides repair shops with essential insights and best practices to run their business,” he said. “The report offers commercial repair data you can’t find anywhere else with learnings on shop management, labor challenges and current industry parts shortages. It’s all designed to provide shops with a tool to benchmark their business against.”