193: Exploring the History, Products, and Values of Howes Products in the Trucking Industry

During this week’s episode of the Oakley Podcast, hosts Jeremy Kellett and Megan Cummings come to you LIVE from the Mid-America Truck Show (MATS). This episode, we welcome Rick Guida, Brand Manager at Howes Products to discuss the company’s history, its commitment to quality, and its future, including the prospect of a sixth generation taking over. Rich emphasizes the importance of product safety and efficacy over being first to market, exemplified by their seven-year development of the Lifeline product. The company sells through distribution, with independent operators as a significant part of its customer base. At the truck show, Howes Products focused on educating visitors and providing samples, confident in their products’ performance, such as guaranteeing a 5% fuel increase with their Diesel Defender. The episode also touches on the Howes Hall of Fame, the shared values of family and tradition in small businesses, and more. Learn more at howesproducts.com.

Key topics in today’s conversation include:

  • Coming to You LIVE from MATS (1:09)
  • Introducing New Co-Host Megan Cummings (2:09)
  • Rich and Howes Products (3:40)
  • The Legacy of Howes (4:40)
  • Discussion on Diesel Additives (7:43)
  • Howes Hall of Fame (12:50)
  • Availability of Howes Products (16:38)
  • Howes Products’ Reward Program (17:19)
  • The importance of customer service (18:05)
  • The Future of Howes Products (19:31)
  • Commitment to quality and safety (20:08)
  • Benefits of using additives (22:33)
  • Small company and family tradition (23:07)

Oakley Trucking is a family-owned and operated trucking company headquartered in North Little Rock, Arkansas. For more information, check out our show website: podcast.bruceoakley.com.


Rich Guida  00:13

Our motto was tested, trusted, and guaranteed. And no better example is our lifeline product of that where it took seven years for us to get to mark, because it wasn’t important for us to be first. It was important for us to have it right. Right, the company and the founders labored over that because they didn’t want a product that wasn’t safe, and didn’t want to cut corners. And you know, to be honest, we lost some, there was some momentum with other brands getting out ahead of us, but we didn’t let that impact our decision to make the product lead.

Jeremy Kellett  00:42

Welcome to the Oakley podcast, trucking, business, and family. This show is brought to you by Oakley Trucking, headquartered in North Little Rock, Arkansas. The purpose of this podcast is to communicate with Oakley owner-operators and their families by giving them up-to-date information concerning Oakley Trucking and the trucking industry. From business advice to safety updates to success stories. Also to give an inside to outside truck drivers that might be interested in joining the Oakley family. Welcome to the Oakley podcast, trucking, business and family guess what we are at max today, the Mid America trucking show in Louisville, Kentucky NorCal. And what we’re going to do is bring some really, really good episodes from here. We did this for a couple years. And it is just a great opportunity to gather good people in the business of trucking because and the whole point is for our owner operators, all owner operators to be more successful. So what we try to do is, get, you know, products, people, businesses things together to help that happen for our owner operators. And that’s what we’re going to do here today talking to Howes products with the rich and we’re going to visit with him in just a minute. But you know, as always on these every week when we put out a new episode of The Opie podcast, I can’t thank you guys enough for listening. Subscribe and watch Sharon and and everything you do gives us feedback, comments. I mean, the whole nine yards we you know, it’s just impressive every week, the number of listeners that we have, and they were gaining and that’s all, you know, contributed to our social media platform that we do out there and everybody tuning into so we really appreciate it and we’ve got some good episodes from the truck show coming at you. Also got Megan to come and sit in with us for her first time. So hey, Megan, glad you made it.

Megan Cummings  02:34

We do have your first truck show. Yes. First truck showed the first podcasts impressively. Yeah, lots of new things are happening.

Jeremy Kellett  02:41

All the new things happening. So he’s gonna be sitting in with us too. And of course Megan, if you don’t know she works at Oakley, in a recruiting calm, and we’re glad to have her and getting restorative help with the pocket.

Arrow Truck Sales Commercial  02:53

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Jeremy Kellett  03:40

Let’s get started talking to Rich Guida. That’s right, you nailed it. You knew I was gonna mess it up. Riches with Howes products. And in for, you know most of our listeners probably know about your products. But for the ones that don’t give us a rundown on what Howes products he is. Sure.

Rich Guida  04:01

And thank you for having me. I really appreciate the opportunity. And it’s great to meet you both. Howes products have been around for over 100 years. Founded in 1920 by Wendell Howes, they’re their fifth generation family owned American company. And we make diesel additives that not only help your engine, but they keep you safe. And we can get into that a little bit later. But as far as the company is concerned, you know, it has a rich history. Rob, how’s the second is currently at the helm. The generation before him stays in touch and is involved a little bit and the legacy remains. Well

Jeremy Kellett  04:40

there’s actually a Hal that is still involved in the Yes.

Rich Guida  04:43

Rob Howes. Yep, yep.

Jeremy Kellett  04:45

So over 100 year yeah, yeah,

Rich Guida  04:48

That’s impressive. Wendell Howes, Bruce Howes, Rob Howes, another Rob Howes. So there’s just Howess all over. So it’s

Jeremy Kellett  04:54

just passing on down a generation. Exactly. Yeah, yeah. where you’re out of,

Rich Guida  05:00

we’re out. We’re out of Rhode Island. Okay, which is actually a unique location to the trucking industry because we know the New England corridors and crazy busy, but we, that’s where we’re at. But our products are manufactured in Kansas. So the operation in Rhode Island is really for sales marketing. We do have a few warehouses there. And is that where you live? I live in New Hampshire. Okay, tell us a little

Jeremy Kellett  05:23

bit about you, for listeners. So you kind of understand where you’re coming from?

Rich Guida  05:28

Well, I’ve been with Howes for five years. I’ve been in marketing my whole life, and came across Howes working on a project to rebrand that there was a kind of an older look, I called it the Pittsburgh Steeler look, that was very black and gold. So I was brought on as part of a team to help them rebrand and color code the products so that on shelves at retail, they were more easily recognizable. And just some things we could do to kind of up the image of the brand. And through that process. I got to know the Howes family, and they said, Would you be interested in joining us and it was a great decision. They’re they they value family? I want to hear more about your company. I’ve done some research, but it sounds like there’s some similarities between

Jeremy Kellett  06:15

us. Oh, were you in the transportation industry at all? Or is this your first? Nope, this

Rich Guida  06:19

is my first foray into this. I’ve been in marketing my whole life. I work at consumer electronics companies like Toshiba and Philips. But yeah, you know, you can market anything if you pay attention to the guidelines. I’ve got a family. I do. A father of four. I have a 20 year old, 22 year old, a 24 year old and a 26 year old. Oh,

Jeremy Kellett  06:37

yeah. Are they all up around Rhode Island? Yeah.

Rich Guida  06:41

Well, I have a son who lives in New York City. I have another son who is working on a forum in Hawaii. Oh, wow. Yeah, he’s doing it right. Another son of mine is avidly into hunting and fishing and works in an outfitter. So that’s great for me, because I love hunting with my son. Yes. You know, there is a lot of tradition there. And then my oldest daughter Maeve works in South Carolina in the entertainment business. She’s doing quite well as a lead. They cover all the bases. Yes, I

Jeremy Kellett  07:08

did get gone, didn’t they? Do we have to talk after this? Because I have a son in New York City. Oh, okay. 25

Rich Guida  07:14

years old. Oh, my son’s 24. Yeah. So yeah, I’d like to be

Jeremy Kellett  07:19

interesting. So yeah, so Howes products, I’ve known him and that’s just because of, you know, a pickup I had at one time that I use the product. And, you know, for the treatment because of a lot of the stuff that’s happened with the trucking industry having a DPF filter, and, you know, the different types of fuel additives in the fuel. You know, I mean, it’s just got to where I mean, almost everybody now needs to have some kind of additive, they’re putting in their diesel. I mean, expand on that. And then what kind of neat gel has that.

Rich Guida  07:55

It’s a great point, you know, it’s referred to as ultra low sulfur diesel, well, low sulfur means low lubricity. Because when they took the sulfur out to meet the guidelines for the EPA, and things of that nature, and I’m not complaining about that, and wanted to do our part to keep the air clean, but it took out vital elements they took the sulfur as a natural lubricant. So not having that in there, you know, you’re, you’re going to, you’re going to stroke, my mom used to say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. So by putting in these little kids and adding back in that lubricity, you’re gonna avoid problems down the line, whether it’s the fuel injectors or elements that just need to be lubricated. There’s a lot of moving parts that are touched by that fuel. So that’s really important. So,

Jeremy Kellett  08:39

you know, I guess, what all products are, or I mean, you know, I’m just talking about the one additive, you know, to have that there’s, as I was looking on your website, there’s a bunch of different products that y’all have.

Rich Guida  08:51

Well, yeah, most of the bulk of them are the additive space. So diesel treat is what we’re known for, I think your listeners and, and hopefully a lot of the drivers, as you mentioned, are familiar with us. That’s our number one selling product, and it’s an anti gel, and that keeps you in colder weather from gelling up and when you’re gelled up, you’re not moving when you’re not moving, you’re not making so keep an diesel tree in your tank and getting into a regimen. Treating your fuel is very important. There are instances where maybe you didn’t treat or you didn’t treat soon enough. And you’re gonna find yourself gelled up. So another product we make is called diesel lifeline. And that’s an emergency rescue product and the key with ours, there’s a lot on the market and they’re all fine products. But ours is different. We think because there was no alcohol in our product and alcohol can be dangerous. It has a very low Flashpoint. Our product has the exact same Flashpoint as diesel, so it’s less apt to cause any explosions or things that you know could be dangerous, and it also doesn’t require that you replace the fuel filter. When you’re on the side of the road gelled up the last thing you want to be doing is spending a lot of time upside down in your vehicle. Because if you have gelled up, there’s a good chance it’s below 15 degrees, or even less than that. So the quicker you get back in your cab and get your engine started, the better. So by adding a lifeline, we guarantee it up to negative 40. And we’d actually go further because we’re confident I can make that guarantee up to negative 40. And, you know, it also, it’s a quick solution for what could be a dangerous situation. And that’s what I was talking about safety. It’s a good thing to have in your cat, you know, it’s better to have it and not need it than need it and not have

Jeremy Kellett  10:35

rot rot. Is that a new product? Is that a fairly new product? The lifeline? Yeah,

Rich Guida  10:40

The diesel treat has been around for decades. Lifeline was introduced at this show in 2020. So it’s been around for four years, and we’ve had wonderful success with that. And the third product in our diesel additive line is diesel defender. We’ve noticed Jeremy a lot of people stop treating because the weather is not cold. Well, you know, Richard, you just explained to me why I want to treat you when the weather’s cold. Well, you really should treat it year round. If you’re not treating it year round, it’s back to that no sulfur in the flute fuel. Water can get in there, our products remove water. It has a detergent package called IDX. Four, which is state of the art and proprietary that was developed by the Howes fan with. And it also has that lubricity package I was talking about. So it keeps you moving. But water is a real issue as we head into spring, cold, cold nights. Warm days. Yeah, you get condensation in the tank, and it’s a problem and our product gets to the water separator faster.

Jeremy Kellett  11:36

I’ll run in the sidebar. Because I have a bass boat. And do you have a Marine? Marine

Rich Guida  11:44

product? Do our products work in breweries? They do. If you have a diesel engine? We don’t know. But no, we don’t have to get Yeah, we don’t have this just decent. Yes, we are. We are just okay. Because I put it

Jeremy Kellett  11:53

additive in that smart you know, just because not and non ethanol. Yeah. Fuel. So yeah. Made me think of that. Yeah. Had a Marine. There’s a lot of there’s a lot of competition in this various in this arena, isn’t it? I mean, how do y’all separate yourself? We don’t well, there other than 100 plus

Rich Guida  12:12

years? Yeah, that’s true. You know, we’re doing something right. Jeremy. All right. So there’s a lot of good products out there. And you know, if Rob Howes was here today, he would say the same thing. He wants you to treat your fuel. Just treat your fuel. If you’ve got fuel , probably around. Yeah, if it’s working for you use it, you know, but we think if you did try Howes, you’d be happy with the results. So we’re, you know, we’re when you’re around this long, you know, we don’t punch down and there’s great products in this space. So

Megan Cummings  12:45

It’s so what’s this Howes Hall of Fame? Yeah, we’ve heard about Yeah,

Rich Guida  12:50

Unfortunately, you missed them by a day. But at this match show just yesterday. We inducted truckers. Josh, if you don’t know, trucker, Josh, you should check him out. He has over 134,000 subscribers to a YouTube channel. He’s out of Canada. And all he does, but not all he does what he does. As he chronicles his life has been doing it since 2011. And he drives down from Canada. He’s in the states an awful lot. And he shares everything about his experiences. Some things are mundane and dull, you know, but, and they’re 30 minutes. They’re not these short, little snippets. And I remember when I do a lot of the research for the hall and I’ll talk more about what the hall is. But I do a lot of research for the Hall of Fame. And when I stumbled across him I saw his first video so I’m not sitting watching a 30 minute video about a truck driving. Well, 25 minutes later, I was still sitting there. And if I had had popcorn, I would have been eaten. It was fascinating. And I know you know that as a recruiter, you come across these drivers there. Every one of them has a story. Well, he shared his and so we inducted him into the Howes. And he had to go back yesterday because his son is one year old today. But he came down as our guest. And you know, we took them out to dinner and the hall was started in 2020 To celebrate our 100 year anniversary. And it was a way for the Howes family to give back about the people, places and things in this industry that made it so great. We have Ellen Voya and Women in Trucking or the Hall of Fame. We have truckers against trafficking in the great work they’re doing in our Hall of Fame. Tony justice. He’s in our Hall of Fame. We have some farmers because we also work with farm products. So the Peterson farm brothers are in our Hall of Fame. And Tony is our latest. There’s a couple of drivers Billy stoner just a great family man. Nothing. He did 4 million miles safely. You know, he came to the show and met Tony and just was thrilled beyond the mood. So it’s a gesture that really celebrates who his characters are placed in these things that make this interesting industry.

Jeremy Kellett  14:53

So and it’s just something that up to your discretion or the high Family boons in the Howes Hall of Fame, you’re looking at requirements. I mean, yeah,

Rich Guida  15:04

Well, that’s a perfect question. If you visit Howes products.com, backslash H, O F, there’s a nomination form in there. So if there’s someone you know that’s done great things we will consider that. How many do you do a year or we do two a year. Okay. Yeah. So we’re up to 10 right now and

Jeremy Kellett  15:25

you nominate me and I’ll nominate you.

Rich Guida  15:29

And I’ll see you.

Jeremy Kellett  15:33

Oakley Trucking is a 100% Owner Operator company. We specialize in Hopper bottom in dump and pneumatic drivers. We provide the trailer free of charge and you provide the truck. We have a large customer base that reaches the whole United States as well as parts of Canada. Our owner operators live anywhere from Texas to North Carolina to Pennsylvania to Wisconsin and everywhere in between and we get them home weekends. We take it seriously when you join Oakley trucking because we need you to be successful. Oakley offers great benefits and a competitive mileage base. So you know that when your wheels are turning, you’re generating money. No matter if you’re loaded or empty. We understand that you want to make a good living and that you make our living. We only take on independent contractors and to be honest with you, we are very particular on who we lease on. You must have a good driving record, good work history, and a clean, dependable truck. So if you’re interested in Oakley trucking or just want some more information, you can go to Oakley trucking.com. Listen to our weekly podcast, the Oakley podcast and subscribe to our YouTube channel.

Megan Cummings  16:34

How can our drivers purchase your products? Yeah.

Rich Guida  16:38

Thank you for asking that question. They are available in a number of ways. amazon.com Because you got to be on there. But we partner with all the truck stops that you’re familiar with. I’m sure you can find it at truck stops. You can also find diesel treats at Walmart that are brought into that Walmart and the rest of our products. Farm Stores Tractor Supply. auto parts stores Napa O’Reilly’s, you know not trying to forget which ones but sure if you can find a store where there’s a good chance we’re going

Jeremy Kellett  17:11

to have a look at on your website, the frequently asked questions Why should I keep the stamps on the bottles? That’s

Rich Guida  17:19

our reward program. Oh, okay. And if you add up enough of the rewards you can get? I brought you some hacks and stuff. And I think you thought they were pretty cool. Look at Yes, very good. Yeah. So you can accumulate points. And you can get everything from jackets to hats too. Well, how does that exactly work? You just mail in mail at old school? Yeah.

Jeremy Kellett  17:40

So you keep the stickers. Yep, yep.

Rich Guida  17:42

Just put them on a sheet of paper off a bottle. Once you reach a certain number, throw them in the mail. And that’s another thing I do Customer Service at Howess, we do an old style you call you get a purse? You know, we’re not we’re not farming out our customer service. And, and we take calls, thankfully, not too many.

Jeremy Kellett  18:00

I was gonna say Do you really have any problems with this? I mean, what are the negative two? Well, we

Rich Guida  18:04

actually have a program called you go or we pay the toe. And I can tell you last year, we had five calls. And all five of those calls were the result of extremely cold temperatures. So we made it right, we paid the toe and you know, we will send them a product. And so you know, the Howes family built this the right way. It really did. And that sounds like your company, do they are willing to do it? It sure is.

Jeremy Kellett  18:25

sounds impressive. To get to know the company Howes and Koshi represent real well. Well, thank you, you know, you know what you’re talking about? And that’s good. I definitely at some point, we’d like to meet the owner, as I’m just super impressed with over 100 years of doing this when I looked at your website earlier, and I saw that Oh, truck there. Yeah. I don’t even know what year that means, that was 1920. Yes. You know, and they said how’s the lubricant on it? I’m like, holy cow. These people have been doing this a long time. Yeah, that’s right.

Rich Guida  18:57

Yeah, that was Wendell Howes who started the company. He called himself a trunk slammer. And as I mentioned to you before the show, we started with a product called multipurpose, which is a lubricant and penetrating oil. And he literally we drive around to dealerships and open his trunk and sell bottles to car dealerships back in the day. And that’s how the company got its start. And then they formulated the diesel products decades ago and they’ve been successful with it.

Jeremy Kellett  19:27

What, you asked him, is what is a feature that makes blood work? So

Megan Cummings  19:31

Speaking of the future, we’ve gone through the family tree of the Howes, we’ve seen where we are now, what’s the next 5,10, 15 years look like? Right? Yes,

Rich Guida  19:43

yeah, well there’s a sixth generation if Rob was very telling you about his two sons, three years old and nine months old so they won’t be my bosses because I’ll be out of the way but they’re gonna be somebody’s bosses because you know, the family tradition will continue in the future. Megan looks bright for us. You know, we have some things in development that obviously I can’t go into. But you know, Howes Howes takes great pride is our motto was tested, trusted and guaranteed. And no better example is our lifeline product of that where it took seven years for us to get to mark, because it wasn’t important for us to be first, it was important for us to have it. Right. Right. So we labored over that when I say we will not from that equation, but the company and the founders labored over that, because they didn’t want a product that wasn’t safe. They didn’t want a product with alcohol, they didn’t want to cut corners. And you know, to be honest, we lost some, there was some momentum with other brands getting out ahead of us, but we didn’t let that impact our decision to make the product lead. Are

Jeremy Kellett  20:48

Are some of your main customers independent contractors? I mean, is that the Yeah, the bulk of your year, our

Rich Guida  20:55

sales model, our sales model is a little different that we sell through distribution. So we don’t sell directly. But yes, I mean, independent operators are, you know, we love those guys. And you know, some fleets, you know, they mandate that you treat your fuel, or they actually show the gas receipt and the additive person. Okay. Yeah, some fleets do? Yeah. I mean, that’s just good business practice. Sure. It’s not an answer to prevent words.

Jeremy Kellett  21:20

Now, I know we’re at the truck show. And when this comes out, the truck show will be over. Yeah, but for people to prepare for next year. What are y’all doing here at the truck show? Well,

Rich Guida  21:30

We have a booth. It’s number 14172. Actually, this will be out afterwards. But yeah, you might be aware, yeah, this is where we go look at the spot. No, we’re talking about our products, you know, and boys, it’s a busy show, I am so happy to be sitting down right now. Because I don’t need, you know,

Jeremy Kellett  21:52

a lot of education. It’s not selling the product go,

Rich Guida  21:54

No, it’s education, it’s product samples, you know, we do give out the products as the best customer is one that evangelizes for us. And we really believe in that. And this industry, especially as a marketer, you know, the golden thing is, is word of mouth, if you can get people talking or viral social campaigns, things like that. And the only way to do that is having people try the product. And we’re so confident that when they do, they’ll see and feel and we guarantee on our defender product, we guarantee a 5% increase in fuel. Now, you know, every driver that drives you, every penny 10th of a mile improvement mess, we guarantee 5% Send us the receipt. Yeah, exactly. money in their pocket. Yeah. So that’s another reason to use an additive . It’s actually cliche, but it does pay for itself. Yeah, it really does.

Jeremy Kellett  22:43

Anything else you’d like to add? That’s no good. Really? Yeah,

Rich Guida  22:47

yeah. No, it’s, I’m glad we stumbled across this opportunity. And we’d love to participate more. And you know, I’ll get Rob on with you can do this by phone or some other.

Jeremy Kellett  22:59

Yeah, we can always do it, too. Yeah. Well, Megan, anything you’d love to?

Megan Cummings  23:05

It’s very nice to meet you. Nice to meet you, too. Like how we have that in common as far as the small company starts out small families are really a big deal.

Jeremy Kellett  23:15

Yeah, yeah. And our Thursday. I’m sorry, what Oakley third generation? That’s wonderful. Yeah. continues to go.

Rich Guida  23:22

Yeah, that’s great. How is it? So the drivers own their vehicles? Well, they

Jeremy Kellett  23:28

own their trucks and we own Detroit. Okay. Wow. That’s awesome. It’s a marriage. That’s great. We gotta make it work. Yeah. Yeah. So very, okay. appreciate everybody listening to the Oakland podcast. You know, it is. The reason I pick like, you know, for instance Howes that we’re talking to today is I want this to help our owner operators out there. You know, I want stuff to help you be successful. That, you know, we’ll just help you learn about more ways and more opportunities to be a successful owner operator. And that’s what we’re doing here at the truck show and we got more, more to come at you so appreciate y’all listening and we’ll talk to you later. Thanks for listening to this episode of the Oakley podcast: trucking, business, and family. If you enjoyed this episode, be sure to rate or review the show on the podcast platform of your choice and share it with a friend. We love hearing from our audience, so if you’ve got a question, comment, or just want to say hello, head over to our website, theoakleypodcast.com, and click the “leave a comment” button. We’ll get you a response soon and may even share some of the best ones here on the show. We’ll be back with a fresh episode very soon. Thanks for listening.