Apparatus Purchasing: Stock, Standard, or Demo? Part 2

“Apparatus Purchasing: Stock, Standard, or Demo? Part 1” (February 2016) offered my personal opinions on stock, demonstrator, and standardized apparatus, noting it may be financially advantageous for fire departments to consider one for a new purchase. For Part 2, several apparatus manufacturers responded to several questions on the topic.

How do you characterize stock, demo, and standard apparatus?

Dave Stoffel, senior manager, business development, Pierce Manufacturing: “Stock trucks allow for quick deliveries, emergency purchases, alternate bids, and competitive bids with shortened lead times. Pierce field stock units (demos) are well configured, high-content apparatus engineered to readily accept multiple options after they are completed.”

Mike Yurgec, director, dealer development and product management, Spartan Motors: “A stock unit is an apparatus slotted for production without an owner. It can be a pumper, aerial, or rescue built for the purpose of value and quick delivery. Stock unit information is distributed to our sales team with the intent on selling them to customers who require quick delivery, big value, or convenience. These customers are able to take advantage of value-priced apparatus and chassis with quick delivery.

1 This W.S. Darley mini pumper was recently delivered to the Sheldon Community (TX) Fire Department. This rig is similar to Darley’s demonstrators, which are displayed at trade shows. Demonstrators can offer special features and quicker delivery at more competitive pricing than a totally custom rig. (Photo courtesy of W.S. Darley & Company
1 This W.S. Darley mini pumper was recently delivered to the Sheldon Community (TX) Fire Department. This rig is similar to Darley’s demonstrators, which are displayed at trade shows. Demonstrators can offer special features and quicker delivery at more competitive pricing than a totally custom rig. (Photo courtesy of W.S. Darley & Company.)

“A standard unit, in Spartan terms, refers to a series of apparatus in our stock program. It is standard from the point of similar features and equipment in the series. Typically, a standard unit will feature the same pump, chassis cab configuration, or body style. A demo apparatus is built for the purpose of demonstrating new features and benefits of the manufacturer. Typically, these units are not sold right away and are intended to be on the show circuit or for demonstrations to key customers. After their time on the road, they are offered for sale, usually with a discount because of their mileage and minimal wear and tear.”

Dave Rider, director of global product management, Smeal Fire Apparatus: “Standard isn’t really a word that applies across our product line because almost every pumper or aerial is customized depending on what the customer wants and needs. That being said, standard options are options that are already in our product lineup and previously engineered so that the customer isn’t incurring any special design costs. We do have a starting point for each major configuration that gives our customers and sales reps a starting point for their customization discussions.

“At Smeal, stock units are units we build to have available for sale, even before they are completed. We configure these around the most popular configurations and options that we see with our customers.

2 This is a typical stock/demo Midwest Fire 3,000-gallon APR polypropylene tank and body with a 1,000-gallon-per-minute Darley pump. The company’s All-Poly Series also includes a single-axle 2,000-gallon version. Midwest sells direct to the customer from its factory. (Photo courtesy of Midwest Fire
2 This is a typical stock/demo Midwest Fire 3,000-gallon APR polypropylene tank and body with a 1,000-gallon-per-minute Darley pump. The company’s All-Poly Series also includes a single-axle 2,000-gallon version. Midwest sells direct to the customer from its factory. (Photo courtesy of Midwest Fire.)

“For us, demo apparatus are used to showcase the product with potential customers for a period of time before the units become available for delivery. Of course, sometimes it’s hard to keep those demos because of the demand we generate.”

Phil Gerace, director of sales and marketing, KME: “KME maintains a number of models that are pre-engineered but still offer some degree of customization. These models are based on the most popular configurations based on purchases of thousands of vehicles over the years.”

Sarah Atchison, president and CEO, Midwest Fire Equipment & Repair Company: “Midwest keeps a supply of stock trucks in production in order to meet customer demand. These stock truck builds include a full list of our standard features, still allow for some customization, and are available for immediate delivery. This immediate availability is a valuable benefit for a department that is in need of an apparatus on a short timeframe.”

3 This Ascendant single-axle aerial is a typical stock unit that Pierce uses to demonstrate this new product. Pierce’s Web site has an extensive listing of various types of commercial and custom apparatus. (Photo courtesy of Pierce Manufacturing.)
3 This Ascendant single-axle aerial is a typical stock unit that Pierce uses to demonstrate this new product. Pierce’s Web site has an extensive listing of various types of commercial and custom apparatus. (Photo courtesy of Pierce Manufacturing.)

Peter Darley, executive vice president and chief operating officer, W.S. Darley & Company: “Darley builds demonstrator trucks, and our goal is always to incorporate and show the latest technology. So, these rigs are used for demonstrating technology such as compressed-air foam, and they allow departments to get hands-on experience with the product. They are used for promotion but also for teaching.”

Shane Krueger, national sales manager, Marion Body Works Fire & Emergency Products: “Marion Body Works utilizes demo apparatus to get new product innovations out for public opinion. This gives the OEM critical feedback to help continuously develop the product.”

Is there a financial benefit for a fire department to purchase a stock or demo rig?

Krueger: “The exchange in purchasing a stock or demo rig for any interested buyer is the opportunity to save thousands of dollars on the purchase price and take a more immediate delivery, all while getting the warranties of a new apparatus.”

Darley: “If the truck is the right fit for the department, then it can also mean savings when it comes to delivery time and cost.”

Stoffel: “The primary benefit of a stock truck is quick delivery. Additionally, Pierce stock trucks are typically configured at lower price levels, allowing for savings for a customer who doesn’t require a complex build-to-order vehicle.”

4 An LTC Telesqurt 65 stock unit. Smeal’s Web site shows a wide selection of its stock aerial devices and pumpers as well as stock UST tankers and the LTC product line. (Photo courtesy of Smeal Fire Apparatus
4 An LTC Telesqurt 65 stock unit. Smeal’s Web site shows a wide selection of its stock aerial devices and pumpers as well as stock UST tankers and the LTC product line. (Photo courtesy of Smeal Fire Apparatus.)

Atchison: “Fire departments looking for a new truck and facing budget constraints and timing concerns find that purchasing a Midwest stock truck is an excellent choice because it provides them with a high-quality, well-designed apparatus that will serve their community for decades at a very competitive price.”

Rider: “There can be financial benefit, but that typically has to do with what options are or aren’t on the stock truck, and many departments add options to a stock unit after the fact. The major benefit of buying a stock unit is its fast delivery.”

Gerace: “Yes. For stock trucks, the biggest advantage is a quick delivery, but there are also discounts based on the mileage of the truck.”

Do you have a program or programs for standardized apparatus?

Darley: “We also promote the same (demo) rigs as program trucks. A program truck might not be in stock or built yet, but it has advantages for some customers to consider. So, while Darley can provide a department with customized solutions, sometimes the program spec will meet their requirement, thus allowing quicker delivery times and lower costs.”

Yurgec: “Yes. Spartan has a stock apparatus program offering a variety of apparatus models, chassis, and body features.”

Gerace: “KME’s Legacy and Challenger pumper lines draw on decades of experience to consolidate the choices, taking the guesswork out of the process and offering preselected bodies and chassis. Each configuration is outfitted with an array of standard features, including more than a dozen body styles.”

5 A demo top-mount pumper on KME’s Panther series custom chassis and a commercial chassied Challenger series stock pumper. (Photos courtesy of KME
5 A demo top-mount pumper on KME’s Panther series custom chassis and a commercial chassied Challenger series stock pumper. (Photos courtesy of KME.)

Joe Messmer, president, Summit Fire Apparatus: “Summit is a small manufacturer. We work closely with our customers on a lot of specialized apparatus and don’t get into too many cookie cutter or demo units.”

Rider: “Smeal has a program truck line that includes several popular pumper configurations and a pumper-tanker design. We have structured these to incorporate the most popular options and configurations so that they can appeal to a large variety of departments.”

Stoffel: “Pierce has an extensive stock program from high-end aerials and pumpers to entry-level custom apparatus and a commercial line that includes pumpers and tankers. The Pierce stock program is able to fit the needs of nearly every department.”

Is there a financial benefit for a fire department to purchase a program rig?

Gerace: “For standard models, volume purchases can be made by the manufacturer on certain components, and much of the engineering cost is eliminated. Those savings are then passed on to the customer.”

Rider: “Program units are designed to take advantage of purchasing benefits with selected options and components and to reduce production hours through efficiency, so there can be cost advantages.”

6 A demo top-mount pumper on KME’s Panther series custom chassis and a commercial chassied Challenger series stock pumper. (Photos courtesy of KME
6 A demo top-mount pumper on KME’s Panther series custom chassis and a commercial chassied Challenger series stock pumper. (Photos courtesy of KME.)

Stoffel: “Pierce stock units are available with many popular options that fire departments desire. A Pierce stock truck is a well-configured unit that can meet nearly any department’s needs. Each apparatus is configured to allow for additional options, enabling the truck to meet a specific department’s needs while still offering savings compared to a custom, build-to-order vehicle.”

Yurgec: “Yes, to a degree. The financial benefit can exist not only in dollars but in terms of the value of quick delivery and savings from common items used in the production-i.e., chassis, pumps, body style.”

Are there financial benefits for a fire department to purchase an exact replica of a rig you’ve previously built?

Stoffel: “Depending on the age and complexity of the unit being duplicated, there can be benefits that we can pass on to the customer.”

Gerace: “Yes. Much of the engineering is eliminated, so the cost is less and so is the delivery timeframe. If departments add on while the manufacturer is building the first order, customers save on engineering plus are able to get the benefit (discount) of manufacturing efficiencies as well.”

7 A recent Marion demo rig. National Sales Manager Shane Krueger says Marion is building several more like units. (Photo courtesy of Marion Body Works Fire & Emergency Products
7 A recent Marion demo rig. National Sales Manager Shane Krueger says Marion is building several more like units. (Photo courtesy of Marion Body Works Fire & Emergency Products.)

Yurgec: “If the apparatus is exactly the same, there can be a savings from a design and engineering standpoint. However, the things that customize the unit from one customer to the next will be an additional cost.”

Rider: “Most of the financial benefit is achieved when you’re able to build multiple trucks of the same configuration in a row, so just duplicating a previous design doesn’t necessarily mean a big financial advantage. You can get some of those same savings by selected options that are already engineered because it’s often the engineering investment in ‘new’ options that runs up the price of an apparatus.”

Do you have any words of wisdom about stock/demo/program apparatus for the readership?

Stoffel: “I would encourage any department that is purchasing a new apparatus to talk to its local Pierce dealer and evaluate our stock vehicle offerings. I think they would be impressed with the Pierce apparatus that are available through our stock inventory program whether it’s a field stock unit with a few miles on it; a show truck; or a brand new, recently completed apparatus. Departments may very well find a well-configured truck at an excellent value.”

Kreuger: “In addition to demo vehicles, Marion offers customers presold demos. The exchange again gives the customer a vehicle to their exact specification with built-in savings. The savings of thousands of dollars will let the OEM display the truck at various trade shows and demonstrate with other customers wishing to view the design. This gives the vehicle some run time and breaks in the engine prior to being put into service at the fire department. Many customers have often commented that any ‘bugs’ are usually found immediately and can be taken care of before delivery. I’m not sure that’s a goal, but it could be true with the complexity of today’s electrical and emission systems.”

8 A typical Spartan ER Legend Series pumper mounted on Spartan’s own custom cab and chassis. Its Web site also lists stock pumpers and aerials. (Photo courtesy of Spartan ER
8 A typical Spartan ER Legend Series pumper mounted on Spartan’s own custom cab and chassis. Its Web site also lists stock pumpers and aerials. (Photo courtesy of Spartan ER.)

Messmer: “Most of Summit’s rigs are custom designed for each fire department. Many of them don’t have low-budget-minded attitudes and are more concerned with performance and quality. By working closely with our customers, they are able to acquire the truck that meets or exceeds their demands.”

Gerace: “As the first step, the department should identify its basic needs-i.e., cab seating, water tank size, foam, storage, hosebed, and pump capacity. Then, evaluate which stock or demo units meet those minimum requirements and balance the options and prices listed beyond the basics.”

BILL ADAMS is a member of the Fire Apparatus & Emergency Equipment editorial advisory board, a former fire apparatus salesman, and a past chief of the East Rochester (NY) Fire Department. He has 50 years of experience in the volunteer fire service.

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