Brad Corrodi

Interview by
Published on
February 21, 2023

In this episode...

Is technology helping reduce truck accidents in America? Nowadays, truck drivers and company owners can have access to technology to help them monitor road conditions, vehicle status, and more. The data can also be used to coach their professional drivers to improve their skills and driving behaviors. In this episode of Life By The Mile, we sit down with Brad Corrodi, Vice President (Fleet Products and Services) at Stone Ridge, to discuss the importance of safety in the trucking industry and how technology can make the lives of truck drivers safer and less stressful. Stone Ridge is a supplier for many truck manufacturers, and their logo can often be found on the back of instrument clusters. They specialize in creating products that improve the safety and efficiency of trucks, such as digital tachographs, advanced driver assistance systems, and other telematics solutions. So, whether you're a truck driver, fleet manager, or just interested in the latest innovations in the trucking industry, this episode is definitely for you! Don't miss out on this fascinating discussion on the future of trucking technology and its crucial role in keeping our roads safe. Watch now!

Brad Corrodi

Vice President, Fleet Products & Services at Stoneridge.


drivers need to know your heart and I'm big about sharing the hearts of companies what's the heart of yours um our heart is is to is to get them home safe every night and it's as simple as that um and and to have that experience during the day be as as as low stress and as enjoyable as uh as it can be welcome to life of the mile delivered by freightworks one of America's fastest growing podcasts actually produced by Trucking indicted to tell story compelling driver story I need to do something insightful industry experts all here right now Slide by the mile delivered by freightworks I'm your host Butch Maltby and uh just a quick reminder we are just wanting to tell the incredible story of drivers and the unbelievable intricacies of traveling Logistics and supply chain and all of that it's a delight today to have Brad karote He's the vice president Fleet products and services at Stone Ridge we're going to talk a little bit later about how Stoneridge might be part of the safety solution and otherwise for your fleets and in your company but in the meantime just want to say welcome thank you butch now most people on a podcast ask this question and I've tried to figure out ways to ask it differently but there's just a simple way to ask how did you get into the work that you're in that's actually a a pretty a pretty simple story as well as a as a complicated story so I'll start with the simple one and that is that uh the the CEO of Stone Ridge um a gentleman named John degainer um is an old friend we went to uh business school together uh longer ago than uh either one of us would admit um and uh you know at a particular point in in stone ridge's development um some of my background which included uh some time in a in a transportation Logistics supply chain focused Venture fund um was a good fit for some of the new growth businesses that John wanted to create within Stone Ridge now you made an offhanded comment you went to business school the reality is you went to Wharton and I'm not the alumni director for Wharton and I'm not their Chief development officer but it's more than a business goal I mean it's a fraternity right

um well I've been in a fraternity as well and I can tell you they're they're they're different places [Laughter] um but but the the the the structure at Wharton um does do a pretty good job of um providing um you know already a ready network of people for pretty much any problem you run into to uh be able to find uh you know someone that you you know or at least you did know at some point uh that can give you some some additional thoughts and perspective so yes it's a it's a pretty fantastic place you know Brad what's interesting is I have friends uh a handful of friends that have gone to Wharton and I I went to graduate school at the University of Virginia and knew a number of people at Darden and The Darden people always wanted to be Wharton people that's just the truth and when they see this podcast they're going to believe I'm a betrayer in saying that well you you have uh you have plenty of things going for you down at uh at Darden including uh the former head of your Executive Education uh program um David Newkirk was a long time mentor of mine at Booz Allen Hamilton so um I have a lot of um you know a lot of uh of respect as well as appreciation for a number of the programs at Dart as well well we're gonna we're gonna get into what we're supposed to talk about but it gives me joy right now to know that I teased out of the conversation early on this Wharton Darden thing and I'm definitely going to send it to my Darden friends and uh who knows what will happen from there with social media now listen Brad uh what's in what's so interesting about your Vita and your background is you have this combination of the technical with not the softer Sciences but the technical and the business together and you know my my friend who's a a neurosurgeon tells me about the corpus callosum which is that membrane between the left and right hemisphere uh you're nodding your head you're aware of it and it it is what is the intermediary between left and right hemisphere thinking I'll just say it in a nutshell yours must be working pretty well because you've had this background technically right I mean you you're like engineering well it I I guess it's either it's either working well or I'm depending too much on it so it's a little overtaxed but uh yes I I uh if you look back on my background uh it's either an interesting combination or a string of random studies depending upon how you look at it I suppose well and depending on the science uh that you deal with and delve into there's nothing random there's some organizing principle behind it all now when did you come to Stone Ridge and and just talk briefly nutshell for people because we have drivers we have influencers we we have others describe briefly what Stone Ridge is

um so Stone Ridge is a a tier one supplier in the automotive industry and and what that means is the the manufacturers so the name brands that we see every day whether that's for General Motors uh Freightliner Peterbilt Kenworth um every one of those um original equipment manufacturers relies on an upstream network of suppliers uh that's typically um divided across the different subsystems of the vehicle so one one tier one supplier will provide the powertrain and another one will provide the interior and another one will provide the instrument cluster so so you have these suppliers um that that specialize in in different sections um of a vehicle um and then they in turn um will will work with a network of of other suppliers um to come up with smaller components that go into their portion and those are called tier two and so forth so supplier uh Stone tier one supplier which means um you know most of our customers are the names you find on on the emblems of of the vehicles and Stonebridge does Supply both uh passenger car manufacturers as well as a commercial truck uh commercial vehicle manufacturers now you also have proprietary Technologies correct

um yes we do although um again for those that know the the automotive industry um there is always a blend so when someone says we we want a new instrument cluster we want a new camera mirror system or we want a new body control module um there's there's some things that the on the vehicle manufactures Engineers um own and as their technology um there's other things that they pay a tier one supplier to develop and and the um the manufacturer retains the the ownership rights um to some of that technology that they pay their suppliers to develop um but then equally um most suppliers are at least the ones that are successful um also make their own Investments um to have some proprietary technology that um makes them you know potentially a better choice um than another supplier um when when um proposing to to supply a part to the to the manufacturer does that make sense yes Brad when you look at venture-backed companies that are involved in the industry space that you're you know obviously an expert in what are the motivations for example for Venture Capital funds to get behind behind entities in such a volatile industry if that makes sense

um it does um and well with a couple of caveats every Venture firm is a little bit different in terms of what what they choose to invest in what their thesis is as to why they can make investments that generate a return whereas uh that's going to be better than the other Venture investors that that are competing for uh for for asset managers allocations um so the general rule is is that Venture capitalists like markets that are very big um they like markets that are ripe for Innovation so rather than an incremental change something that is going to undergo um you know a sharp step change um because that that provides an opportunity for a new entrant um to gain uh gain market share in something much more quickly um than just doing something that someone's already doing a little bit better and so um certainly Trucking is is huge as an industry um it has traditionally been perhaps a slightly slower more conservative adopter of Technology than other Industries and so um for those that um maybe are aren't are are not as knowledgeable of the industry they they automatically put those two together to say well hey they're behind in technology and they're big so that must be a great opportunity for um a newcomer to to bring them you know Kicking and Screaming into the the current generation of technology and and and enjoy a lot of benefits um and you know you probably picked up by the way I described that um sometimes that that's that's a a play that works and and many other times it's not what what's so interesting about this is that uh the trucking industry is large deep and and Broad and ever-changing and it's not one market right it's a lot of sub-markets uh but when you look at that and you look at for example at freightworks we're an asset-based carrier here in Western North Carolina 150 trucks you know and and growing what would you say to a company like ours and for all of the companies that are kind of in that range about Stone Ridge and what Stone Ridge offers and and why it's something that you know every single fleet manager ought to look at the salad bar of opportunities of what you have vis-a-vis technology what would be your not Pitch but just your kind of presentation about that well I think the starting point is um you probably already have products from Stoneridge um so if you take out your instrument cluster and look on the back uh you probably will find our logo so so the first point is um unlike some of the Silicon Valley backed uh startup companies that are just serving Trucking because it's as you say it's it's big and and they think it's interesting um and they may try and serve uh you know health care tomorrow and and um another industry the day after that and they're just Trucking is one of a number a number on the list um I think all of us have probably heard pitches from those companies and and their understanding of of the industry um and all of the other pieces of the equipment um is is pretty you know it's pretty shallow um so I think as a starting point you know Stoneridge that's been you know A supplier to the commercial vehicle industry for you know for more than 55 years um we we understand um we understand the vehicle we understand how oems work we understand what some of the operational processes of of the companies that that utilize those assets in those Vehicles so we don't we don't come at this as um as you know uh move fast and break things um we're here to understand better and and expand the value that that our existing products um can deliver to people who are who are you know running real businesses such as yourselves um so that that's kind of the starting point that I think sets Stone Ridge apart from some of the other kind of pure Tech innovators um the second thing is is that um you know that also means we're in it for the long haul um you know if if we if we have a particular product um and it works great for some fleets and not so well for others um you know the ones who it does work for don't need to Veer that um you know we're gonna pack up and go try and you know serve the healthcare industry next um Stone Ridge is deeply deeply committed in its roots its leadership its history as well as its strategy um to to being in the industry for the for the Long Haul um and so any products that um that fleets buy from us um even if they're retrofit or aftermarket parts um you know we we're we're in the industry we're part of the industry I think would be would be point two um then the third thing which is a little bit new I suppose um is um our current CEO had uh had a realization um that you know that the the real opportunity was to work more closely with the end users of our products and Not only would that enable us to do um to do a better job of creating value for those customers it also makes us a better supplier to the vehicle manufacturers because we can then collaborate with them compare notes on what we think we heard from some of the people driving the trucks and together come up with you know what's what's technology now for Technology's sake but what are the very specific things that are going to enable better safety uh better driver Comfort lower driver stress um greater efficiency um improved you know risk profile exoneration and so forth um and so um you know I um there are certainly big bigger suppliers to the original equipment manufacturers there are certainly tech companies that have more Venture money to dream up more features but Stoneridge is um is is among very few um that that is in this in the industry and is part of the industry and it's nonetheless you know really staked its colors to the Mast and spending its time in discretionary resources um really at the coal face with um with the end users of its products you know what for somebody with such a technical and business background you used a wonderful metaphor just now they stake their colors to the Mast I I don't know if anybody's told you this perhaps but you've got this literary thing that's probably lurking in you as well

well you know you you already mentioned where I went to uh undergrad which I won't say again but they they make you take all sorts of courses to graduate from that place so you gotta tuck it in there well and and you know what's important to go back uh I used to be a college professor in my 20s and and I told I've told former students you ought to have a class action suit asking for your your tuition to be refunded because nobody knows anything in their 20s but but you know the collision and the combination of all those experiences obviously so help now Brad when you look at some would say some would say I guess in an uninformed way that there's so much chaos in in the market we've got EVS we've got all the discussions about that autonomous Trucking when you look at all of those different elliptical orbits in the Stone Ridge world how does that affect what you do where you go going forward

um it's it's a great question um and and it obviously they're they're there's a whole number of of ways that um that those very large disruptions um both affect Stone Ridge directly and indirectly in in that they also influence our customers um so um you know the first the first one you know electrification I think is probably the easiest one to to trace um there's an enormous amount of engineering and investment required um to to to bring a a an electric powertrain um of whatever flavor uh or or in power source to the level of efficiency reliability and range that um you know has been developed over you know decades um with with uh uh a combustion engine based solution um there's only so much investment money that that the vehicle Market can bear and so if if all of that investment is required um from from the oems from the manufacturers um that that's less that they have to invest in some other things that may also have a lot of of benefit um you know an intelligent cockpit um better Services delivered from you know cloud cloud analytics that understand you know what what risks or opportunities a driver should should know about um and so in some ways it does it does help um it it helps to um allow allow us as a partner to the OEM to have an area of specialty where we can add value because their investment dollars may need to be concentrated in in some of the other um parts of the overall vehicle that that also need um Innovation and investment so so that that's kind of the first effect um the second effect is you know there there are there are just you know an awful lot of of smaller component products you wouldn't even think about like you know how do you how do you um put the emergency brake on an electric vehicle I'm sorry how do you put it in park you can't put it in park there's no physical gear to stop it from Rolling um and so you need a different you know different actuator to be able to put an emergency brake on an electric vehicle you know that's a Stone Ridge product so so a lot of these changes in and around the structure of the vehicle also open up opportunities for for specific um uh variations or or new versions of old products or mature products and then the last one I'd say is the the enormous amount of money going into autonomy um even even though you know full disclosure I'm I have been and on record as a as a skeptic for large-scale adoption of General use autonomy right rather than closed closed domain autonomy um but all the money that goes into that um it it results in in all sorts of enablers um being created so whether that's in cloud computing or um the chips that that can do some of the spatial processing um you know 5G you know a lot of the business case for that was around vehicles and autonomy right so you know when you have that many people putting that much money into all the building blocks that it takes to deliver an autonomous vehicle um you know to take some of those same building blocks and apply them to making the driver's life safer and better um it it gives us I think um a little bit of a lift if we can surf that wave we can apply some of the same stuff from the general technology Market in a way that um that that we can bring a lot of those benefits to the driver as well you know it reminds me a little bit uh people pronounce the death of local radio they pronounce the death of local newspapers I'm betraying my age there's something about the Crackle and the touch of the New York Times you know or or some other paper and it's not just I I don't think it's just a generational cohort so in the midst of that you know we've had drivers on talking about if you're a driver you need to know how to shift 13 15 19 gear whatever it is and then others say no I want a flat screen like some airline pilot has when you look at what's happening on the driver's side of all of this because that's our heart Brad where does Stone Ridge fit into that equation in other words drivers need to know your heart and I'm big about sharing the hearts of companies what's the heart of yours um our heart is is to is to get them home safe every night and it's as simple as that um and and they have that experience during the day be as as as low stress on as enjoyable as uh as it can be um and so you know take take the example of your uh your shifting you know some some colleagues that we work with in the industry have shared some some of their journey and and adopting automatic transmissions and the the data were very clear that um automatic transmissions meant more people were going home safe right um and and that is a little bit hard to say you know that is a skill to be able to work the gear sets that you you mentioned um but you know they've they've shared their experience of having that conversation with the driver to say is that is that really your only skill is that the only thing that defines you or your role that's good um or is it is it your brain is it your perception is it your temperament is it your professionalism um and the fact is there there are many many other things that um you know frankly drivers can be rightfully very very proud of that aren't in in in in in uh in ready supply um that are nonetheless critical to doing an extremely important job um you know safely reliable and professionally that's really solid yeah I'm reminded of of a statement that uh and we're getting to the end here and and by by the way I knew this was going to be a fruitful conversation I I felt it in intuitively and discern that and and it has been and this the vice president fleet services and products at Stone Ridge uh Wayne Gretzky when he was asked the question why are you great he said I skate to where the puck will be not where the puck was not where the puck is but I anticipate where it will be from Stone ridge's perspective where is the trucking and Logistics industry going and how are you best suited as a company to adapt to all of that well I alluded to it a little bit earlier um and you know if if you look at one of the autonomous vehicles that they have you know for the test drives outside some of the ATA events you you look at all of the the lidars and sensors and all the whiz-bang stuff that's a raid all over that that vehicle that's that's creating this you know fire hose of information about everything going on around the vehicle and you know some you know dim the lights compute power to chew through all that to say you know what what's really going on around the vehicle that the computer needs to know to uh to steer the vehicle or or uh otherwise you know accelerate decelerated appropriately um if if you if you think about take even a fraction of that amount of of raw information and a fraction of that amount of processing power and instead say use that to create the simplest most concise um bit of additional information that would really help a driver um it's a different challenge than feeding teaching a computer how to figure out where it is on a road you know the driver's brain does 99 of that already really well but you know where where we think it's going is once again take take that flood because the sensors are out there now right that anybody can buy that technology the compute power is is out there it gets cheaper every day um how do you take those same very powerful tools and and and not overwhelm the driver with you know beeps and buzzes and and Burrs and winches but instead use it to say actually we're only going to alert the driver to something that they they haven't seen that they or hadn't paid attention to you know they should have looked over here um even though you know it that's not the usual place to look because there's something else going on outside the truck you know think about if your truck only beeps or flashes at you when you actually missed something not not every time something comes into range and so you know that that that's really saying put that same power to to being a compliment to what the driver already does well and not something that forces them to relearn their job um you know we think the combination of those two the the driver and and those capabilities is is really exciting and and we've only just gotten started to figure out how to how to practically deliver that promise that is uh it's an excellent segue to the end here I I knew I knew when I heard your name and looked up a few interviews with you I knew it was going to be enjoyable I'm a consumptive learner and and Brad you're the kind of guy to be great to you know sit sit there and at Sag Harbor where I used to go and and just talk about this kind of stuff this is no way did you ever go to super Rica okay now we're not going to disclose everything here okay it's Brad crote He's the vice president fleets products and services at Stone Ridge important company and it's one that here at freightworks we want to get to know better uh folks we want to make sure that you know we're able to bring opportunities like this to you with influencers in the marketplace because of great content like this Brad we're grateful and uh you know you've been around the block so much we typically give somebody a cap for uh for being here and uh you know you've got caps and gowns from great institutions uh already but if you would indulge me for just one minute we want to say you give it away we want to give you one of two caps this is our freightworks one this freightworks one Studio it's right around the corner from the driver's Lounge I told the folks here at freightworks I don't want an office I want to hang out with the drivers and so it's like a real time focus group every single day and I love that so this freightworks one cap and then we're gonna be at mats again this year broadcasting we hope to see you and your team there this is a light by the model cap whatever real big because the Patriotic theme so we got one of those if you would let us send one it will make the team here a lot happier if you say no I'm gonna have to deal with that so which one might I send um I'll let I'll let you make the choices to which one uh right which one you think is uh is best suited to stoner's values as I sent them to you or as I communicate them to you and great we'll send you back a mirror eye Gap so that uh you've got something you can wear on the air next time all right it's it's like it's like uh a company company exchange and that's what it's all about is Brad karote vice president Fleet products and services at Stoneridge get to know them better you know what I'm reminded as you were talking earlier New York Life did an ad campaign years ago and it was something along the lines of New York Life is old stodgy and dull that's not you but the subline subtext was kind of refreshing during days like this and I I thought I thought that I thought that was kind of brilliant you know all these flash of the pans that you're talking about Venture Capital Money chasing new ideas when at the end of the day it's drivers boots on the ground seats in the truck making America move move forward and if that feels like the ethos of Stone Ridge to me amen all right I'll say Amen as well thank you so much for taking time thanks Bruce take care thanks for watching this episode you know life by the mile delivered by freightworks is one of the newest largest and fastest growing podcasts actually produced by trucking company now we want you to like and share this episode if you'd like to see more episodes click here and make sure that you subscribe to this channel by clicking here we'll see you there

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