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Onvia recently took a trip to Indianapolis, IN to attend the world’s largest annual fire training-based conference and exposition - the 2015 Fire Department Instructors Conference (FDIC). It was an exciting and educational week for all in attendance and with over 900 exhibitors and 150 learning sessions, we came away a fresh understanding of some of the latest trends in fire equipment and takeaways for manufacturers selling into the fire rescue industry. In order to help firms who sell goods and services to local fire departments better understand the market, we wanted to re-cap a few of the most pervasive trends from the show including: Remote control fire apparatus technology, increased agency purchasing through cooperative contracts and how manufacturers can better market to agencies.

Remote Control Fire Trucks? No Longer Just for Kids

Our representative at the show, Scott May, came back with a loud and clear message that one of the hottest trends buzzing around this year’s show was the growing adoption of remote control technology in fire trucks. In order to provide fire truck equipment manufacturers with a glimpse of what agencies are seeking in remote control fire truck technologies, here are two example bids from Onvia’s Project Center.

City of Sikeston in Missouri
 
Issued a bid in August of 2014 for two fire apparatus’ including one aerial apparatus and one pumper. Included in the pumper specifications are requirements for an Akron Brass SaberMaster nozzle that “shall be electrically remote controlled.”
Gwinnett County in Lawrenceville, Georgia
 
Issued a bid in May of 2014 for the purchase of triple combination rescue style pumpers. The bid specifications include requirements for various pieces of remote control equipment including a controllable telescoping monitor pipe, electric master stream, and wireless remote monitor control station from Task Force Tips.

Now is the Time to Market Your Cooperative Contracts

Many of the exhibitors at the show were actively marketing the availability of their products and services on cooperative purchasing association contracts, something Scott hadn’t seen as much of in previous years at the show. As agencies seek to find efficiencies in their procurement processes, cooperative purchasing is a trend that is growing in popularity. It seems that the most successful manufacturers in the fire industry are beginning to provide the blueprint for how to market to agencies who are seeking to purchase off these time-saving contracts. One standout cooperative purchasing association that exhibitors marketed was the National Joint Powers Alliance (NJPA); they define cooperative purchasing as “contract purchasing solutions that are leveraged nationally to enable contracted suppliers and member agencies to work smarter and more efficient as they do business with each other.” Onvia’s recommendation to manufacturers is to market the availability of your offering on cooperative contracts to agencies that tend to purchase similar products on cooperative contracts. But, how can manufacturers ensure that they target the right agencies and get the most out of their marketing efforts?

Identifying Agencies to Market to with Onvia

Many fire truck equipment manufacturers only have a limited view of agencies to market to; they are satisfied with the same agencies that they have always marketed to. While these manufacturers may already have trusted and established relationships with these agencies, this method may mean a lost opportunity to grow government sales with new agencies. Most manufacturers simply don’t have the staff on hand needed to successfully track future spending from over 80,000 state and local agencies nationwide but that’s where Onvia comes in.

Onvia’s Spending Forecast Center gives users insight into future spending years before that planned spending goes out to public bid by allowing users to search all relevant budget (future spending) mentions of their offering all in one place. To demonstrate how manufacturers can use Spending Forecast Center to improve the reach of their marketing efforts, here two examples of agencies that are looking to spend on fire trucks and fire truck technologies in the next three years that may not have come on their radar with traditional manual research methods:

 
The capital improvement plan for FY2014-FY2015 shows that the agency has budgeted to spend $750,000 in 2017 in order to replace a 2003 Sutphen Aerial Truck, currently the oldest front line apparatus in the fire departments fleet. This vehicle already has over 50,000 miles and is ready to be placed in reserve service in accordance to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommendations that an apparatus has useful life for 15 years of frontline service and 5 years of reserve service.
Town of Tewksbury in Massachusetts’s
 
The capital improvement plan for FY2016-2020 indicates that the agency has budgeted to spend $1.1M in 2017 in order to replace the fire departments 1986 Emergency-One ladder truck which is nearly 30 years old. The agency seeks a new aerial truck that will come into compliance with applicable NFPA standards and notes that the bid specifications will include a water supply, centrifugal fire pump and a fire attack hose for independent firefighting capabilities.

Also available is Onvia’s Agency Center which makes it easy for users to find and market to agencies. It lets you quickly and accurately target the agencies in your markets that need your product or service – and the key agency contacts to talk to. With Agency Center you can build relationships with agency decision makers and buyers so you can influence bids & RFPs long before projects come up for bid.

Here’s a screenshot with a few of the top state & local agencies purchasing fire trucks and fire truck technologies products and services:

FDIC Agency Center - Agencies Purchasing Fire Trucks

Key Takeaways for Fire Truck and Equipment Manufacturers

We left FDIC 2015 with an impression that innovation in fire truck equipment technologies is evolving rapidly. Remote control fire truck equipment technology may just be the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the new technologies that agencies are specifying in bid documents today. We wouldn’t be surprised to see more technology advancements at next year’s show - or even sooner in Onvia’s Project Center and Spending Forecast Center.

Onvia’s recommendation for manufacturers who are looking to grow in this market is to consider which cooperative purchasing associations are best for your product and business goals. For more information on how to take advantage of cooperative purchasing, you can download our new report: Leverage Cooperative Purchasing to Grow Your Government Sales. Once your product is available on a cooperative contract, market that contract to targeted agencies that can be easily identified with Onvia’s Spending Forecast Center and Agency Center.

For a starting point in optimizing an agency marketing plan, we also recommend downloading our Strategies to Increase Government Business for Manufacturers and OEMs and Five Winning Strategies for Dealers, Distributors and Resellers in the Public Sector strategy guides. If a solution that allows for quick identification of targeted agencies to market to sounds like a time-saver to you, then request a free live demo using the button below today. See you at next year’s show!