Can You Keep Up With The Changes In The Industry?
By Jim Walbolt
In this fast-paced world, keeping up with any industry can be very trying. Keeping up with the latest trends can be the difference between success and failure. Those businesses that remain successful are those that continually stay at the forefront of their chosen field.
The engine rebuilding business has seen tremendous change in the past couple of decades, changes that have caused many doors to close. These changes are going to continue, more than likely at an even faster pace. While change has many thinking in the negative, change can also provide tremendous opportunity. Getting your mindset into a positive mode can bring great success to your business. Staying ahead of the changes can be a full-time job; luckily, there are several places you can turn in order to help you stay on top of all the changes.
Help From PERA
Many of the biggest changes our industry will face will continue to come from the OEMs. According to Roy Berndt of the Production Engine Remanufacturers Association (PERA), General Motors alone will have 40 variances of engines by 2007. "That means they are looking to release a new variance of engine once a month for the next three years!" he says.
I guess for Roy that's what you would call job security. Part of his responsibility with PERA is to investigate and uncover the little differences between engines that make each one unique - even seemingly identical models may have completely different internal components.
PERA is one of the organizations committed to helping you keep up with the industry changes. Just think what it would be like if every manufacturer were to become as aggressive as GM plans to be in the next three years.
Of course, having numerous variations on one engine isn't a new concept: from 2000-2004, the Ford 4.6L engine was available in more than two-dozen different variations.
Individually, you would be hard-pressed to keep up. Organizations such as PERA can help you do that. The association's new Enginedatasource.com will provide you with engine casting component identification with casting numbers and detailed descriptions, allow you to check application by part number and view parts by a specific category.
If you are a builder or rebuilder who has also moved into the high performance arena, you should know that not only do you need to keep up with industry changes, you need to stay ahead of the competition as well. In high performance work, your customer is always looking for an "edge," and if you continue to supply that edge you'll continue to be in demand.
PERA continues to increase its involvement into the high performance end of the business, according to Berndt. "The organization is making a strategic move toward that industry because more and more PERs are getting involved in crate motors." For more about crate engines, see the August issue of Engine Builder ("Fast Lane: Is There A 'Spec Engine' Program In Your Future?" page 26).
The Engine Rebuilders Association (AERA) has also embraced the high performance industry with its Vanguard Performance Group. Formerly, the Vanguard Group was solely for AERA members under 40. But according to Jim Rickoff, AERA's marketing consultant, the Vanguard focus has now completely changed.
"Now, the Vanguard is our performance group. There's no longer an age limitation; it's strictly geared to high performance enthusiasts," Rickoff says. "The group produces a quarterly newsletter that talks about nothing but high performance issues and there will be a forum that deals only with performance questions. We think this dedicated approach is just right."
Rickoff also says that AERA's PRO-SIS engine specification software will soon have a section dedicated to high performance as well. "They're working on that now - soon the software will contain a large number of proven high performance engine combinations. All the data to back the combinations up, including dyno testing, will be included."
Although he hesitated to pin down the number, Rickoff estimated that between 20 and 100 different engine combinations will be included initially. Shops using the PRO-SIS software will, in essence, be able to pull up a recipe for a high performance engine to meet a particular customer's engine needs. This will be a boon to all shops, but particularly those shops just getting into performance.
While engine builders can easily use PRO-SIS to get the specs for a particular engine, including how it should dyno out at the end, builders can also deviate from the specs. PRO-SIS will allow you to input data from your own R&D work and add your own "recipe" to your PRO-SIS database. The information you store is virtually unlimited: no more lost or grease-smudged notes!
The PRO-SIS software with the high performance module should be available by the time of the Performance Racing Industry tradeshow in Indianapolis, IN, (Dec. 9-11, 2004).
Speaking of which, the PRI show is a great place to try to keep up with the other changes in the industry, as well. You can get a hands-on look at new products and equipment and you can talk with the manufacturers of high performance products and get an idea of where the performance industry is headed. This year will be the last in the Midwest; next year the PRI Show moves to Orlando, FL.
Both PERA and AERA will have a presence at the PRI show. In fact, PERA will be holding meetings and seminars in Indianapolis prior to opening ceremonies. I encourage you to talk with both associations about your own industry involvement.
Keeping up with the changes is a job in itself, but you're not alone. If you're not yet, become a member of PERA or AERA and take advantage of the conventions, seminars and online resources available to association members.
Gaining knowledge - even just a little bit - can keep you on the road to success. There are many resources available to you.