The heading: Part 1 -Three Big Problems Facing the Heavy-Duty Industry with two older men and a semi-truck in the background.

Demographic Inversion is Hurting the Heavy-Duty Parts Industry

Demographic inversion is hurting everyone, especially the heavy-duty parts industry.

Each year the staff at the Heavy Duty Consulting Corporation (HDC) attends a lot of tradeshows, summits, and conferences for the heavy-duty parts and trucking industry. All anyone talked about for nearly 3-years was COVID and the supply chain shortage. Now it seems Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) are all anyone is talking about. But here’s the thing, we’ve got some big issues that we aren’t talking about enough.

In this 3-part series, we are going to describe three of these issues, what we should do about them as an industry, and provide you with at least one practical thing you can do to improve your specific situation.

Problem # 1: Demographic Inversion is Hurting Everyone

Demographic inversion is when birth rates decline and there are more old people than young people. Global birth rates have been steadily on the decline since 1970.

A chart showing global declining birth rates since 1970 and projected to 2030.

The cause of declining birthrates is complex but here are three major contributing factors:

#1) Birth Control. In the 1960s reliable cheap birth control became available in the Western World. In the following decades, it became available globally. People to this day don’t understand that this was a revolutionary technology and we still don’t fully understand the impact it will have on humanity.

#2) Wealth. No group of humans in history are wealthier than we are right now and at no time in the history of humankind have so few people been in abject poverty. But here is the thing about wealthy people with access to reliable birth control; they have fewer children.

#3) The Decline of Religion. Say what you want about the Catholics and many other religions but one thing you can’t take away from them is their impact on the family unit. Our CEO, Jamie Irvine’s grandparents were “good Catholics” and they had 13 children. His mother left the church and she had 2 children, one generation removed from his grandparents and he has only had one child, two generations removed, and his daughter swears she will never have any children. This is a common situation in families all around the world now.

Population Structure Has Never Looked Like This Before

The result of these seismic changes is the complete upending of our population structure globally. While this has happened in the West first, China and India are following in the footsteps of their Western counterparts.

For nearly all of human history (up until 1914) when you plotted the ages of people at any given time it created a “Population Pyramid” where the largest group of people were the children and young adults and the smallest group of people were the elderly.

Population Pyramids from 1914 and 2023

By 2023 that has become wildly distorted with the largest group of people in retirement age and the smallest group of people being young adults and children.

What Should We Do About It?

Even if every adult who was of childbearing age got busy and had many children over the next few years it wouldn’t solve the problem for at least three decades. That’s how long it takes a child to get to a working age and to be trained to a place where they can be truly impactful.

So, if a huge baby boom isn’t the solution, what is?

The answer is found in hyper-competitive recruitment and retention strategies combined with the automation of some aspects of our day-to-day work.

Transform Your Organization and Win the Talent War

The reality is that your company and our industry are in an all-out war with every other company and industry for young talented people to join our ranks. This is a war that the heavy-duty parts and the trucking industry have been losing for decades.

But, you can win the talent war if you’re willing to try something different.

At the Heavy Duty Consulting Corporation (HDC), we use a psychometric tool called Traits to help our clients transform their organizations. This isn’t your average Myers Briggs or DISC assessment.

This tool used correctly will help you execute the strategy recommended by Jim Collins, author of the book Good to Great, where he describes the need to get the right people in the right positions to achieve greatness.

“You need to get everyone off of the bus, and the right people back on the bus, sitting in the right seats.” – Jim Collins

At HDC we use Traits to do exactly that. The impact on the organization’s results is nearly instantaneous and also has a direct impact on the company’s ability to be hyper-competitive in recruiting and retaining employees in the long term.

You + Technology is More Powerful Than You Realize

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has arrived. The robots are coming. At the end of the day, no one really knows what the full impact on humanity will be with this emerging technology.

Are we going to see a dystopian future (think SkyNet and the Terminator movies or iRobot) or is it going to be a Uptopia (think Star Trek) where humans and technology merge in a way that causes human flourishing?

One thing we know is this, right now when a human uses AI to create something it is superior to what either party could create on their own. That is where we think the huge opportunity is for our industry.

A robot and a human stand in front of a futuristic semi-truck.

If we automate many of the tasks that humans do with AI (and soon with robots) we can ease the burden on the progressively smaller workforce available to us and we can increase productivity and output.

The first step is to audit all of the tasks being completed by your human workforce and to identify repetitive tasks that can be done by AI (and in the near future robots) and document the step-by-step process to complete the task with an optimal outcome.

“The solution is the system, the system is the solution.” – Michael E. Gerber

At HDC we help our clients systemize their operations. The impact on the organization can be very large as we routinely identify ways to reduce the amount of work humans do by optimizing and eliminating steps that no longer add value but are done “because that is the way we always did them.” Then when we add AI things get interesting very quickly.

Take Action Today

One of the reasons that we are in this situation in the first place is because 20 years ago when we could have done something about it on the demographic front we failed to act. In heavy-duty we’ve compounded the problem by failing to adopt technology fast enough.

Let’s not keep making that same mistake. It’s time to act. If you’re ready, why not take the first step and meet with us?