Chemical manufacturer selects Willis APUs, becomes distributor

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Auxiliary Power Dynamics and chemical manufacturer Palm International Inc. announced Tuesday, June 5, a sales and marketing agreement in which Palm Truck Repair and Service will become an exclusive distributor of the anti-idling device in Tennessee and four other states. Palm also will equip all 50 long-haul trucks in its two common carriers – Palm Freight Systems and Music City Logistics – with Willis APUs.

Palm Truck Repair – which provides bumper-to-bumper service on tractors and trailers for Palm Freight and Music City trucks, Zilly Transportation and several other mid-sized local fleets and owner-operators – will become a major Willis APU installation and warranty service center. Under the terms of the agreement, Palm becomes the exclusive distributor for the Willis APU in Tennessee, Michigan, Texas, Virginia and Kentucky.

“We researched all of the APUs currently available on the market and found that the quality, durability and capacity of the Willis APU was head and shoulders above the competition,” says Jeff Peterson, president and chief operating officer of Lavergne, Tenn.-based Palm International. Peterson says a lack of cooling and heating capacity was one of the major complaints he and other company employees commonly heard about APUs from many owner-operators and fleets.

“Those who had bad experiences with weaker APUs warned us that drivers still idled their truck engines to heat or cool their sleepers even after they were installed,” Peterson says. “Accordingly, getting the Willis unit – the most powerful unit on the market and the only one with the proper capacity to heat and cool in real-world conditions – is worth the slight increase in cost if you are going to achieve the benefits an APU can offer.”

Peterson says by equipping company trucks with the Willis APU, Palm drivers will get the same cooling and heating comfort during their rest periods that they get from idling their truck engines and running their trucks’ HVAC systems. That will help the company address driver comfort and save it about $600 per month in fuel, not taking into account maintenance costs savings on each truck, which will more than pay for the monthly cost of leasing the units over a three-year period, he says.

“With this value proposition and in light of the financing Auxiliary Power Dynamics has available through its partners, we decided not only to make the Willis APU available to our drivers, but also to actively sell and market the unit to owner-operators and other fleets,” Peterson says. “It’s difficult to predict what will happen. Still, we believe given the price of fuel and the need for companies like ours to address driver comfort to attract and retain the best drivers, fleets and owner-operators will be purchasing thousands of these units.”

Peterson says in the coming months, Palm will market the Willis APU to more customers. Palm also will work on signing up qualified truck dealers and independent truck repair shops in the five states as additional retail installation and warranty centers through franchise agreements. Palm also has the option to become the exclusive distributor in five other states.

“We’re excited about this sales and marketing partnership,” says Samy Karuppana, president and chief executive officer of Auxiliary Power Dynamics. “To have a company, with the reputation for quality and a track record of success that Palm International possesses, interested not only in being a customer, but also a business partner, is a strong testament to the value the Willis APU offers.” Karuppana estimates the size of the potential APU market in the five states at 75,000 units – more than $635 million worth of retail sales.

Auxiliary Power Dynamics says the Willis APU offers cooling and heating capacity that’s the highest in the industry; it also keeps truck drivers and their companies from being slapped with hefty fines for idling their truck engines since it provides auxiliary power as soon as the truck is parked. Its three-cylinder, 18-hp Kubota engine makes it quiet, powerful and inexpensive to maintain, the company says.