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Gears Magazine | WIT: Doing "Whatever It Takes" To Be Your Partner in Business
Other Articles - October/November - 2017

WIT: Doing “Whatever It Takes” To Be Your Partner in Business

When you think “WIT,” your first thought is probably “parts supplier.” That’s not a stretch: WIT has been a leading transmission parts supplier for nearly two decades. Their exceptional inventory and innovative delivery systems have made them a favorite for transmission repair shops all across the country.

But WIT is so much more than a parts supplier. The name WIT — an acronym for Whatever It Takes — has long been more of a motto… a guarantee of excellence… and a promise for more than simply delivering transmission clutches.

That’s because, at WIT, they’ve recognized just how much it takes for a transmission shop to be successful in today’s market. And they know their success depends on yours. So they’ve designed a business model that complements yours… one that provides you with the support you need to be more successful than you could ever hope to be on your own.

Think that’s an overstatement? Some type of marketing pitch? Let’s look at some of the programs that WIT is now offering. You’ll quickly see just how far the folks at WIT are willing to be recognized as “your partner in the business.”

CVT HANDS-ON TRAINING

A dozen years ago, the continuously variable transmission, or CVT, was a novelty. By 2014, 10% of the cars being built came with a CVT. And that number is rising, thanks to the lower manufacturing costs and improved vehicle efficiency CVTs offer.

The folks at WIT are well aware of the rise in the CVT market. They continuously monitor the market for trends, and they’ve spent many hours sourcing and stocking parts for these transmissions. But that’s just the beginning.

They also realize that many transmission technicians aren’t prepared to diagnose and repair these new units. So they joined forces with Seal Aftermarket Products, and the two companies assembled a team of technicians to develop a series of CVT workshops. So far this year they’ve presented eight workshops across the country, with more planned for the months ahead.

“We’ll contact shops in the area and let them know that we’re putting on a CVT workshop,” explains Rodney Peters, WIT VP of sales. “Well bring them in for free — WIT covers all the costs. We’ll supply them with a manual, we’ll feed them, and give them a chance to tear down a unit.

“We’ll usually have 100 or more rebuilders at our workshops,” he says. Which means that, so far, they’ve given nearly 1000 rebuilders a chance to learn about these up-and-coming transmissions.

And these aren’t classes where the guys just sit and listen while a trainer talks. No, these are hands-on classes: Everyone who attends can get their hands on a CVT, take it apart, and learn what to look for during a rebuild or repair.

That’s important, because many technicians require a tactile component to their education. They get more out of handling the components they’re learning to repair than they would by just reading about them.

“A lot of technicians are afraid to get into CVTs because they’re so different,” says WIT President Kenny Hester. “But once they go through the workshop and get their hands on these units, they realize that CVTs are a lot simpler to work on than the electronic transmissions they’re used to.”

Of course, once you’ve learned the ins and outs of CVTs, you need a source for the parts to rebuild them. Once again, WIT is there, providing you with a complete line of CVT components.

According to Chris Combs, plant manager of production and manufacturing, “Wherever we produce these workshops, we come in behind them and make sure to stock pulley assemblies, seal kits, and the high-wear items for CVTs, so the guys can take advantage of the techniques they learned right away.”

Over the last several years, more and more CVTs have begun to make their way into shops across the country. The folks at WIT are aware of that, and they’ve made it their mission to provide the training and the parts you’ll need to be profitable when faced with one of these transmissions.

As if providing CVT training weren’t enough, WIT is also one of the major sponsors for ATRA’s training and webinar programs. And they provide additional support, including specialty tools, to a number of area tech schools.

No doubt about it: WIT is dedicated to supporting transmission technicians, to help train them and keep them competent in today’s ever-changing market.

That might seem altruistic, but, as John Senger, WIT’s director of marketing, points out, “If we want to be successful, it’s crucial for our customers to be as fully educated as possible. It makes them more productive, so we do everything we can to support that.”

That’s obviously good for WIT, but it turns out to be good for shops, too. “Shops make a higher profit on CVTs than they do rebuilding any other type of transmission,” says Kenny. “They spend less on parts and spend less time on the bench. In the future, CVTs will be crucial to their success.”

Can’t make it to a workshop? If you’re in the Louisville area, you’re welcome to visit the WIT warehouse. “You can stop by and work with our rebuilders on a CVT,” says Kenny. “Then watch them dyno test it.”

And, while you’re at Expo, be sure to stop by the WIT booth. They’ll be running multiple CVT workshops, right there on the trade show floor.

VALVE BODY SUPPORT

One of the most difficult parts of rebuilding today’s transmissions has to be the valve bodies. The wear created by hardened valves sliding against light metal castings creates leaks in places that can be nearly impossible to pinpoint.

A valve body test bench can help you find and repair valve body problems quickly, but how many shops can afford a test bench, plus all those adapter plates you’d need to provide good coverage?

Thanks to WIT — your partner in the business — you don’t have to. Because WIT has an entire department devoted to testing and repairing valve bodies, and that department is growing rapidly.

“Over the last year we’ve about doubled the size of our valve body service department,” says Chris. “Today we’ve devoted one area simply to disassembling, cleaning, and inspecting. We have a clean room for final inspection, assembly, and testing.”

Not every valve body needs major repairs, but there’s no way to be sure, unless you test it. That’s okay; for a small fee, you can send your valve body to WIT and have them test it. If there’s nothing wrong, you’ll get it back with a clean bill of health.

If the WIT valve body technicians find a problem, you can choose whether you’d like to replace the valve body or have yours repaired. Either way, you can be sure the valve body you’re installing is in good shape and working perfectly.

Of course, the cost of test equipment is only one consideration. “A lot of the valve body bore reamers are so expensive — especially when it’s for a unit that they don’t see very often — that it makes more sense to send the valve body to us,” explains Chris.

“We’re constantly looking at the best ways to assist our customers, for their growth, and ours.”

It’s a terrific service… one designed to make your business more efficient and more profitable. And, according to Chris, WIT’s valve body service program is an ever-evolving process: “We want to hear what you want… get your suggestions,” he says.

Want to perform some of the initial tests yourself? WIT also sells vacuum test benches. Not sure how to use a vacuum test bench? You can try it and get a little one-on-one training at the WIT Louisville location.

“You can read about vacuum testing all day long — read articles and see videos — but nothing compares to being able to put your hands on the test bench and use it yourself,” says Chris.

PARTS EXCELLENCE

CVT training and valve body testing: all things today’s shops need. But at its core, WIT is still a parts company. And, over the years, WIT has rewritten the book on what being a parts company means.

Sure, WIT sells terrific parts. You’ve come to expect that of them. And they keep more transmission parts in stock than anyone else, so chances are, you’ll never have to wait to have a part drop-shipped from somewhere else.

WIT’s dropbox program has completely redefined customer service: Order your parts before you head home, and they’ll be waiting in your dropbox the next morning. “We have some trucks that travel 350 to 400 miles a night for dropbox deliveries, so that gives us a pretty broad range,” explains Rodney.

Kelly Hammock, VP of branch operations, probably said it best: “WIT didn’t create the dropbox, but we perfected it.”

All of which sounds awfully impressive. But it just wasn’t enough for your business partners at WIT. So they’ve established a new barcode system for identifying parts.

At first, a barcode system might sound unimportant to you. How they label parts is their problem, right? But the barcode system is designed with you in mind. WIT uses that barcode to make sure the parts you’re getting are always the parts you need.

Here’s how it works: Each time they pull a part from the shelves, they scan the barcode. “If the barcode doesn’t match the sales order, the computer stops the process, and won’t let them continue until they scan the correct part,” explains Kelly.

That’s extremely valuable, because, let’s face it: a seal is pretty much a seal. In many cases, it’s nearly impossible to tell whether you have the right one just by looking at it… even when you’re comparing the old and new parts side by side. By scanning the barcode, there’s no question: Everything you receive should be exactly the part you were looking for.

The barcode program is now operational in every WIT store, so you can be confident that the parts you receive from WIT are the parts you ordered.

In addition, when you call to order a part for a specific transmission, the WIT computer system has been designed to let you know if there’s something else you might need, based on their experience. So, even if you’re working on a transmission that you aren’t particularly familiar with, the folks at WIT will help make sure you order everything you need… the first time.

“When a customer calls about a unit they’ve never seen before, they might order a basic kit and a converter, and then ask, ‘What else do I need for this?’ Our salespeople can tell them, ‘To get that unit out the door, you need to do this, this, and this,’” explains Rodney.

Which means that, when you call WIT, you’re getting the benefit of thousands of technicians’ experience, from all across the country. Just what you’d expect from your partners in the business.

ONGOING EXPANSION

WIT’s continued growth is nothing less than extraordinary. This past year they enlarged the Louisville location by 35,000 square feet. The extra space has allowed them to increase their inventory, which means that, when you order parts from WIT, it’s likely they’ll have everything you need in stock.

That’s important, because, for most shops, the days of stocking parts are long gone. There are just too many variations to make it worthwhile.

In addition, WIT has dedicated itself to adding new stores all around the country. “We set a goal of adding three locations a year, and we’re sticking pretty close to it,” says Kelly. Today WIT has 30 locations: Their most recent addition is in San Antonio, Texas.

And, even if there isn’t a WIT store nearby, you can still order from WIT: They’ll ship whatever you need, overnight if necessary.

Anyone can say they sell parts. WIT sells parts, and they work hard to do it better than anyone else. But WIT is so much more than that. From training to diagnostic assistance, and much, much more, WIT is about helping you remain profitable. And isn’t that what you’d expect from your partner in the business?