How to pick a PTO and hydraulic products provider

August 24, 2020
Gordon McIlwain – Director of Learning & Development

checklist of customer wish list

If you have vocational trucks in your fleet, or if you upfit vocational trucks, then you need to have a source for items such as power take-offs (PTOs), hydraulic pumps, motors, control valves, filters, oil reservoirs, cylinders, hoses, and connectors. You are probably being solicited more than ever for your business from many places—conventional brick and mortar as well as online businesses. Each of the possibilities vying for your attention and revenue.

While there are no shortage of businesses who want to sell you something, what you need is a good partner and not just another vendor. How does one choose a good provider, and why is that important? What are the signs of a good provider?


  • Internal expertise
    • They should be your expert resource for PTOs and hydraulic components—you don’t want someone you have to teach about the products and their applications. If to them these are just one more line of products they handle but don’t really understand, keep looking for a better partner. In addition to the products, they should also understand the applications on which they are used and the systems as well.
    • They should not only know their products, but also the competitive products and be able to explain why they are choosing the components for your particular application.


  • Good quality, reliable products
    • You want products that will keep your equipment running and producing revenue, and someone who understands the downtime costs.
    • You want products designed and engineered by a true manufacturer, not just copied in some overseas factory where they don’t engineer anything. The downstream cost of product failure or mismatched components is too high to justify some up-front savings.
    • You want someone who can be a “system” supplier and not just a component peddler.
      • All the products should work together and no more pointing fingers saying, “They’re the problem, not us.”


  • Solid on-hand product inventory
    • While no one has everything that might ever be needed in stock, you want a partner with a good inventory of the common, likely used items where “in stock” is the rule, not the exception.
      • This keeps your downtime to a minimum without expensive overnight or next day shipping charges.


  • Interest in your business & your needs
    • They should be trying to fit their products to your needs—not the other way around.
    • Their goal should be to keep your equipment up and running as long as possible, not just to make it past the warranty period.
    • They should know you and your operating environment so they choose components correctly.
    • A true partner understands that your success will enable their success.


  • Service after the sale
    • They should be there if you have a problem. Sooner or later, there will always be a problem—how they respond is the true measure of a great partner.
    • They should be able to help diagnose failures and find/fix the root cause—not just sell you more parts to swap out until the next failure.
    • Training on the installation and use of the products they supply should be available.


  • A fair, equitable price
    • You should want a good value, not a cheap price.
      • Consider the investment cost of your equipment and the cost of downtime in lost revenue.
      • Consider possible damage to your truck and or other system components in the case of product failure.
      • Consider the true cost of doing business—and that is much more than just the invoice price.
    • You want a supplier/provider who will be in business for you tomorrow when you need them—and they have to make a fair profit for that to happen.


You have always had choices where to buy your PTOs and hydraulic components, but probably never as many choices as you face today. However, what hasn’t changed are the basics of good business practices. What was true for your parent and grandparent is still true today—a good supplier is a partner and not a nameless, faceless vendor or, worse yet, an adversary. A good partner will make your business better and serve as a resource and strength for you. One final thought, if I may steal a line from the movies that was spoken to someone with many choices, “You must choose, but choose wisely!”