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Improve Inventory Control and Reduce Fluid Waste for Higher Profits in Your Service Drive – Joshua Holmstadt, Graco

During this year’s NADA Show, CBT News met up with Joshua Holmstadt, product marketing manager at Graco. Joshua and Jim discussed the new additions to the Pulse Fluid Management line. Dealers often find themselves losing fluids during service, which can lead to an increase in overhead for these products. What if there was a way to monitor, track, and reduce fluid waste at your dealership? Check out this interview to find out.fluid waste For more great interviews from the 2019 NADA Show, visit us here!


Jim Fitzpatrick: You guys are working on some really cool things that we’ve heard about, there’s quite a buzz at the show. Talk to us about what you’re rolling out here.

Joshua Holmstadt: What we’re really excited to talk about is the next edition to our PULSE fluid management family. What we really focus on, we do all types of lubrication equipment. So this going to be pumps, reels, meters, anything that has to do with getting fluids into vehicles in workshops. A lot of shops run into situations where they’re losing fluid. They don’t know where it’s going. They’re billing out 400, 500 gallons of oil every month, but they’re not actually … they’re see a lot more coming out of their take. So what these products really focus on is how do you track every dispense that’s going on. Last year at our show we introduced our PULSE fluid management family. We’ve actually now rebranded that PULSE PRO. That is a fully featured fluid management system that allows you to track every dispense, and I’ll show you that.

But we’re also excited to talk about now our PULSE FC system, which is a lower feature, lower cost version for those shops that are not needing all the control, or not needing all the data necessarily. They still have a good solution. So if you have a minute, I’d love to show you about it.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Please do.

Joshua Holmstadt: At the heart of our system is what we call our hub. Our hub is a single board computer. It’s basically just a computer in a box that generates a web page that actually provides software for a technician to be able to see everything that’s going on in their shop. So from one simple view, they’re able to actually see exactly what’s going on with their fluids. We like to talk about what we call the five W’s, the who did the dispense, what did they dispense, where did they dispense it, when did they dispense it, and then ultimately, why did they dispense it. That why is usually a work order. So we’re allowed, or able, to see exactly what they’re doing and being able to track it.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Very cool.

Joshua Holmstadt: So, all that is generated here through our hub and that main component is our meter. Our meter, unlike a lot of our systems that are wired up in the ceiling, everything is self-contained in here. This trigger basically unless I’ve actually activated the meter, no oils going to be coming out. Right from the meter, a technician can simply tap a keypad to it and they can actually now put their pin code in and see exactly what work orders are available to dispense on or even enter a new work order.

In this case, let’s just pick one here, 54, we’ll grab that one right here and now if I look in our software we can see that this dispenser is available to do, right here, and when I hit activate you’ll hear that pump turn on. We have this device called a pump air controller. What’s really cool about that is it actually prevents air from going to your pump unless you’ve authorized it with the meter. Why that’s important is at night when everyone’s gone home, a lot of shops they say they turn off their air compressor but they don’t. And if a line breaks they can end up having that pump just keep running all night and empty that entire tank. That’s a big, big mess.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Huge liability.

Joshua Holmstadt: And a big bill.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Right, right.

Joshua Holmstadt: So this pack will only turn on when a meter tells it too. So now I’m going to simply do a dispense. We can see right here on the screen that I know that dispense is going on. I can do a quick dispense. I won’t spend all day looking at this. When I stop I now can look right here in the software and see that, that dispense is complete. And now I have complete information about exactly what happened in that shop.

So, again those five W’s what we talked about. Another cool feature we have is our tank level monitor. This is a wireless device that allows our customers to know exactly how much oil’s at that tank at any given time. Can even automatically email a customer when they need more oil.

Jim Fitzpatrick: No, really?

Joshua Holmstadt: Or when their material supplier, rather, the … let’s say it’s an oil company that [crosstalk 00:03:48] and it could be a different one for every single product.

Jim Fitzpatrick: No kidding. That’s phenomenal.

Joshua Holmstadt: That’s PULSE Pro, really it’s a fully featured system, again really about data. Be able to do some advanced reportings that really tells you how am I using oil in my shop. Being able to track that back to the every work order.

Now, if we think about that shop that really doesn’t need all that benefit but they still want to be able to make sure that oil is being properly accounted for, that’s where our PULSE FC system comes in.

Now, PULSE FC, think about it more as a fluid voucher system. So simply we have a stack of cards. We place one of those on our reader. Here I can now just select what fluid I want. So in this case we’ll say 0W20. I simply place a quantity of fluid on that card. Now I can give this card to any technician in the shop and the say time, usually when they’re grabbing their oil filter, their crush rings, and now they can take this to any meter in the shop that, that’s correct fluid type and simply turn it on, tap it and now I’ve authorized the meter for exactly that amount of fluid.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Wow.

Joshua Holmstadt: No I don’t have all the data that I get with the PULSE PRO system but I do have a way to make sure that no oil is being dispensed unless it’s the right oil and that it’s been properly accounted for.

Jim Fitzpatrick: And with dealers and fix stop managers it’s all about maintaining and controlling expense.

Joshua Holmstadt: Actually it is. And oil changes tend to be a loss leader, right.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Right, that’s right.

Joshua Holmstadt: I know of one shop for example that we put this in where they were losing oil every single month and just by putting a simple control system they went from negative to positive every single month.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Wow, huge.

Joshua Holmstadt: That can make real big difference to them especially when you’re doing 10s of thousands of gallons of oil every year.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Absolutely, the bigger the volume the more the savings right?

Joshua H.: Absolutely. We typically see a 12 to 18 month ROI on most of these systems.

Jim Fitzpatrick: I was just going to say, how long before this thing pays for itself, really.

Joshua Holmstadt: Yeah, it really does. And the other thing is sometimes there’s other reasons like insurance for example. When some customer complains, “Well did you put the right oil in my car? My engine blew up.” But now you have a record, especially with our PRO system. You can go back and say, “On this date, this is exactly how much and what fluid we put into your car.”

Jim Fitzpatrick: That’s right, that’s right. Makes it idiot proof.

Joshua Holmstadt: It does.

Jim Fitzpatrick: It really does. So, I would imagine your company also provides the training if a dealer comes out and buys a program like this do you then send in the troops to take …

Joshua Holmstadt: Yeah. We actually have a really strong network of distributors. And those distributors will not only work in designing the right system for the customer, what components they need. They’ll install it and they’ll do all the training. But you know where we focus so much on this product is making it simple. So yes we will do that training but if there’s a lot of training needed then we didn’t do our job right in designing the product.

Jim Fitzpatrick: That’s right, that’s right. So, if a dealer is listening right now and for some of them that weren’t able to come out to the conference or to the convention, and they see a system like this, what’s the next step? What do they do to learn more?

Joshua Holmstadt: So, the next step would be, you could go to or check out our website and you can find a local distributor that can get them more information about this system and all the Graco lubrication products.

Jim Fitzpatrick: And then what’s the, walk me through, how long does it take to get a system like this installed into the average dealership?

Joshua Holmstadt: It’s really going to depend on how quick they are ready in the shop. We have all this stuff in stock now. So I mean you could get in, the nice thing about all these components. As I said, it’s a kind of stand alone, we don’t have all that stuff to wire in the ceiling. We can put these into existing shops and the install time is hours, not days.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Really.

Joshua Holmstadt: In terms … yes, and that’s really the beauty of this type of system.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Okay. And if there’s anything that goes wrong with this system, what happens? The dealer just picks up the phone and calls, or?

Joshua Holmstadt: Yeah, Graco has one of the best warranties in the market. Again, they’ll work with their distributor but I can tell you from all the companies that I’ve worked with, Graco has the best warranty in the industry and really stands behind its products and makes sure that our customers are happy.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Right. You’ve almost made it to the point where, why wouldn’t a dealer give you a call because if they don’t have a system that’s similar to this or this system in and of itself, chances are they’re just letting money flow out the back. In a position, they are not in right now.

Joshua Holmstadt: And everyone, you know, I think of parts room as really as a little store within the dealership, right.

Jim Fitzpatrick: It is, it is.

Joshua Holmstadt: And so everything that goes across that counter has to be accounted for.

Jim Fitzpatrick: That’s right.

Joshua Holmstadt: Except for bulk lubricants because it’s that one item where there’s this big tank and a bunch of reels and meters that anyone can grab. And theft, we have to be honest, does occur occasionally.

Jim Fitzpatrick: It does, it does.

Joshua Holmstadt: It’s not the main reason. I mean a lot of times it’s just the wrong fluid getting put in or they’re miss billing. A lot of reasons why but you manage your tires and you make sure that everything gets properly accounted for but why wouldn’t you do the same thing with your oil?

Jim Fitzpatrick: And if a dealership has 12, 14, 15 technicians that are all pulling from that, you’re just asking for disaster.

Joshua Holmstadt: Absolutely.

Jim Fitzpatrick: This program, it seems to me as a former dealer myself, really is piece-of-mind to the dealer.

Joshua Holmstadt: It is.

Jim Fitzpatrick: That says, everything that we buy we’re going to put into cars and get paid for which is all we’re looking for.

Joshua Holmstadt: Well the other thing is sometime, and there’s weird dynamics, every dealerships going to be different. But sometimes the service department versus the part’s department, right. I’ve seen dealerships where they’ll say, “Well I just charge the service department for whatever.” But at the end of the day, the dealerships losing that money. Regardless of what department has it.

Jim Fitzpatrick: That’s exactly right.

Joshua Holmstadt: And so that’s where it sometimes just a little [inaudible 00:08:58]. I had a case recently where we had a dealer where they did 25 quarts of oil into a car. They dug into it and we found out was that they accidentally put antifreeze into the crankcase.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Oh geez.

Joshua Holmstadt: Now, the manual said, in that case, you need to drain and fill it five times. So the technician was doing the right thing but had the part’s department not seen that, that would have just been 25 quarts that had gone unaccounted for when they did … well you know what I guess that was a service departments mistake and they can now use it as a training opportunity.

Jim Fitzpatrick: That’s exactly right.

Joshua Holmstadt: Otherwise no one would have known.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Yeah, yeah absolutely. Joshua, I want to thank you so much for joining us on CBT News. This has been very enlightening for the dealers that are watching right now, get with Joshua or get with the company and find out more about this because this presentation and demonstration is definitely going to work at your dealerships. I want to thank you so much.

Joshua Holmstadt: Thank you very much.

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