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Tom Trzepacz, Vice President of Sales and Customer Relations at Performance Advantage Company talks trends and unique tool mounting challenges

Can you introduce yourself and your role at Performance Advantage Company?

I am Tom Trzepacz, the Vice President of Sales and Customer Relations at Performance Advantage Company (PAC).

My role involves engaging with our end-users, OEMs, and dealers to enhance our relationships.

I also focus on training and educating them about our products and processes.

Additionally, I play a significant role in managing our trade show appearances and our activities at these events.

In your opinion, what are the biggest trends or changes currently shaping the tool mounting industry?

A significant trend we’ve observed is the rapid advancement in technology, along with the evolution of tools and equipment.

For many years, equipment like rescue tools remained relatively unchanged, with only minor modifications.

However, it now appears that almost every year brings changes and improvements, introducing a competitive atmosphere in many sectors.

This evolution makes it challenging for us to maintain the specificity of our brackets as we have in the past, so we’ve adopted a more generic approach, designing our brackets with universal applications to accommodate the fast pace of change in tools and equipment.

We invest heavily in our design process, and it’s challenging when these designs become obsolete within a year or two due to changes in the tools and equipment we aim to support.

Therefore, we maintain a generic and universal approach to our product design to ensure we can adapt to whatever the future holds.

As the industry, particularly in firefighting, undergoes significant changes, we are committed to adapting and evolving to meet these challenges.

How is PAC innovating to meet the evolving needs of its customers?

At PAC, now in our 30th year, we continuously evaluate our existing product range.

We revisit our original product lines to identify opportunities for enhancement or improvement, ensuring they meet the current demands of the fire industry.

In addition to refining our existing products, we are dedicated to developing new and improved bracket systems.

This process is driven by feedback from our customers and dealers, who highlight the necessity for mounting tools and equipment safely and securely.

Our focus is on designing and developing brackets that can accommodate these tools, ensuring they are mounted safely and securely.

While we are committed to improving our current product line, our eyes are always on the future, looking to innovate and develop products that anticipate and meet future needs.

Can you share a recent example of how PAC helped a customer overcome a unique challenge with tool mounting?

We frequently receive inquiries from customers facing challenges with outfitting their new or existing trucks with tool mounting solutions.

Many reach out to us with a basic understanding of our products but are unsure where to begin the process.

Our approach is to collaborate closely with these customers to identify the most suitable solutions for their needs, whether that involves tool boards or other systems.

We guide them through the process, which includes measuring the space, coordinating with our dealers for direct assistance, and, when necessary, working alongside our dealers to layout compartments and provide drawings.

Once we receive a list of the tools and equipment they need to mount, we recommend the appropriate brackets for each item.

Our goal is to support our customers throughout the entire process, whether they are equipping a new truck or retrofitting an older one with our mounting solutions, ensuring a seamless and efficient setup.

What are some of the most common concerns or questions you hear from customers?

A lot of customers ask which brackets are compatible with their tools and systems, given our extensive range of brackets, some of which have overlapping functions.

There is often uncertainty about the appropriate choice, including for our tool boards, so our customers are always looking for guidance on which are suitable for their needs.

Another common question is around which brackets are compliant with NFPA standards, particularly for those intending to mount tools and equipment within the cab of a vehicle.

Addressing this involves understanding the specific applications and environments in which the equipment will be used to recommend the most fitting system and brackets.

Ensuring the safety of firefighters is paramount, so we emphasise the importance of using the appropriate NFPA-compliant brackets for any tools or equipment accompanying crew members in the cab.

Lead time is another significant concern among our customers, especially given the extended lead times prevalent in the fire industry currently.

PAC’s lead times are exceptionally short, typically allowing for dispatch within a week, thanks to our consistent stock availability.

Despite the challenges faced by the industry in recent years, we have managed to avoid shortages, a fact of which we are particularly proud.

How has PAC adapted its customer service approach to address these concerns?

We have made significant improvements to our operational processes by upgrading our inventory and sales management software.

This upgrade has enhanced our ability to accurately track real-time stock levels and the time required for our team to assemble kits and dispatch them.

This system has really improved the efficiency of our customer service team by providing them with precise information, reducing the need for time-consuming inquiries about stock availability and dispatch timelines.

Additionally, we have developed in-house tools, such as tool board calculators and drawing tools, which assist our engineering and product development teams in creating detailed quotes complete with tool board drawings.

These resources allow us to give our customers a clear visualisation of the products they will receive, streamlining the approval process and significantly reducing the likelihood of errors.

These advancements in our customer service approach have been instrumental in addressing customer concerns more effectively and enhancing overall satisfaction.

Looking ahead, what are your goals and aspirations for the future of PAC’s customer relations team?

We’re a small company, but we’re a big company.

We have big ambitions and plan to expand our customer relations team in the near future.

We’ve already begun training several in-house staff members who, aside from their primary roles in our workshop and design and development teams, are also contributing to customer service efforts as we prepare for growth.

We aim to increase our outreach efforts this year, focusing on strengthening our connections with OEMs and dealers.

We want to ensure they know we are here to support them, ready to answer any questions they might have about our applications.

Part of this initiative involves working more closely with these partners, reinforcing our commitment to their success.

We are also dedicated to the continuous training and development of our team, equipping them with the necessary tools and skills to provide exceptional service.

Our goal is to empower our staff to effectively assist our customers, ensuring we maintain and enhance the quality of support we offer as PAC grows.

This article was originally published in the March 2024 issue of International Fire & Safety Journal. To read your FREE digital copy, click here.

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