Navistar hosts first virtual parts conference, expo

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More than 1,600 International and ICTM Bus dealer parts employees kept their luggage stowed and their workplace staffed while attending the new online “Power Up” Navistar Parts Virtual Conference and Sales Expo, held this June.

“Virtual is the way of the future, and Navistar is well positioned to take advantage of this new technology for the benefit of our dealers, our customers and our company,” says Rommel Miranda, vice president of sales and marketing for Navistar Parts, based in Warrenville, Ill.

“In the current environment, incurring costs that would have been typical for previous year’s annual sales conferences didn’t fit the lean, responsible model for business that we were striving toward,” says Kathy Seegebrecht, vice president of marketing and brand for Navistar Parts. “Bringing people together in an online environment – a virtual trade show and education session – made sense for both Navistar and our dealers. It was clearly a win-win situation, as demonstrated by the fact that our online participation was three times greater than last year’s in-person attendance, at one-fifth of the cost.”

Suppliers, dealers and Navistar achieved time and cost savings, and in addition Navistar Parts sales at their conference this year exceeded last year’s sales by almost 30 percent. Power Up, Expo 2009, allowed more dealers to participate in online education sessions and interact with suppliers in the virtual trade show environment, where participants could finalize their deals via chat rooms, fill virtual bags with product literature and network with colleagues in real time.

“Normally, I would send maybe three or four staff people to the annual conference,” says Malcolm Pierson, director of parts operations for Westrux, an International truck dealer in California. “This year, we had 21 people from our operation take advantage of online education through Power Up. In a year where everyone’s been hit hard, this made a lot of sense.”

Available 24/7, Power Up allowed dealers to focus on their customers during the day and participate in training on their own schedule. More than 237,000 product information documents were downloaded in a single week, and 36,000 educational and speaker videos were viewed. Based on positive feedback and dealer requests, the online platform availability has been extended through August, allowing participants the ability to continue to review materials or train new employees.

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“Navistar Parts has worked to become a leader in best use of technologies and already has an online presence on Twitter and YouTube,” Seegebrecht says. “We’ve seen suppliers and dealers embrace this new technology as a way to connect more efficiently to do business.”