Seeking to expand its parts distribution network and trailers-as-a-service (TaaS) capabilities, Wabash National Corp. has formed a joint venture with Fernweh Group LLC, a San Jose-based an investment firm specializing in the industrial technology sector. Under the terms of the deal, Wabash will be the minority owner in the joint venture, which will operate separately from Wabash National.
Wabash has a 49% stake in the new company. It formed the joint venture to enhance its ecommerce platform and partner ecosystem. Wabash is a Lafayette, Indiana-based manufacturer of such transportation and logistics products as:
- Dry freight
- Refrigerated trailers
- Flatbed trailers
- Tank trailers
- Structural composite panels
It says it took a minority stake in the new company so it could remain nimble in rolling out its end-to-end digital platform.
Wabash wants ‘a more B2C-like digital experience’
“We’ve been looking for a partner to deliver a more B2C-like digital experience to our suppliers, dealers and customers,” says Mike Pettit, chief financial officer for Wabash. “We have a strong presence and expertise in transportation, but not the digital expertise.”
In addition to gaining access to the technical expertise it needs to launch its tech initiative by partnering with Fernweh, having a minority stake in the joint venture will allow Wabash to take a startup mentality to its technology initiative without having the oversight that comes with being a publicly traded company, Pettit adds.
“For us, being able to move quickly on our tech initiatives is more important than overall control,” Petitt says. “This joint venture provides us with the speed autonomy of a startup while using the [technical] expertise of Fernweh.”
Topping Wabash’s list for improving its digital platform are:
- Expanding the parts available through parts.onewabash.com
- Scaling its trailer-as-a-service capabilities
- Adding new value-added services for dealers and customers that may include partnerships with technology or logistics providers
Wabash trailers as a service (TaaS)
Wabash launched TaaS in July 2022. It provides access to trailers and maintenance and repair services through the company’s extensive dealer channel and parts distribution network. FreightVana LLC, a Phoenix-based third-party, was the first company to make use of Wabash’s TaaS capabilities.
Looking ahead, Wabash sees an opportunity to use its TaaS platform to digitally connect to dealers, customers and suppliers in new ways and enable them to facilitate interactions across the transportation ecosystem in a one-stop shop.
“[Shipping and logistics] is a highly fragmented, complex and cyclical market that has a lot of players with a lot of handoffs between them, which makes technological innovation difficult,” says Petitt. “More than 90% of the players in this space are small companies that lack scale. Even if they want to find a solution, the question is often where to go to find it. Our mission is to connect the players.”
For its part, Fernweh sees its role as providing the expertise to help Wabash accelerate its technology roadmap by partnering with third parties in the logistics ecosystem that reduce customer and supplier friction during the exchange of services and solutions, says Fernweh CEO Nick Santhanam.
“We see the digital platform as the next evolution in Wabash’s TaaS offering, adding value to all stakeholders by connecting Wabash’s dealers, customers and suppliers to facilitate interactions across the transportation ecosystem in a one-stop shop,” Santhanam says in a statement.
Sign up for a complimentary subscription to Digital Commerce 360 B2B News, published 4x/week. It covers technology and business trends in the growing B2B ecommerce industry. Contact Mark Brohan, vice president of B2B and Market Research Development, at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @markbrohan. Follow us on LinkedIn and be the first to know when we publish Digital Commerce 360 B2B News content.Favorite