May 15, 2024

Diesel Connect 2024 – We Came, We Saw, We Connected!

Diesel Connect 2024 – We Came, We Saw, We Connected!

Well guys, we did it.

Another Diesel Connect is wrapped up. The last few attendees have gone home with stories to tell, ideas to think about, and maybe a little bit of an Arizona tan to show the world they’ve been on a desert adventure.

As for the Fullbay staff, well…some of us need a little more recuperation time.

(This recap, in fact, was written in complete darkness underneath a desk.)

A few hundred people descended upon the Gila River Hotel at Wild Horse Pass. Some were from Arizona and did not have far to go; others arrived from California, Texas, Connecticut, and even parts of Canada. They came, they saw, they gambled.

Okay, they probably learned a lot, too.

In the coming weeks we’re going to share recaps of the numerous keynote speakers and presentations that made the second-ever DC such a hit. We’re also going to start planning next year’s DC, so…well, you can count on that in 2025. In the meantime, here’s some highlights from the 2024 edition.


As a heads up, we’re not going to go into deep detail in this post—we’re just giving you an idea of how the conference went overall and what kind of speakers and activities you can expect!


Diesel Connect 2024 started off strong with a rousing talk from Commander Kirk Lippold, U.S. Navy (retired). Commander Lippold shared the harrowing events that befell the USS Cole on October 12, 2000, when the vessel was attacked by terrorists while refueling in Yemen.

On the surface, you might not think the everyday goings-on in a diesel repair shop have much in common with what happened on the Cole—and thankfully, you’re correct. But as the commander pointed out, the survival of the Cole and the success of a repair shop both come down to the crew(s): It’s the people—and training—involved that make or break a ship or a shop

Next up, our old friend Jay Goninen of WrenchWay talked about our old foe—the tech shortage—and how shops can recruit more techs without blasting open their bank accounts. Shop owners were also treated to an informative session with Steve Williams and Rusty Roberts of Interstate Billing Service built entirely around getting paid faster.

(And for what it’s worth, Rusty plays a mean blues harmonica onstage. Catch him if he ever takes it on tour!)


We wasted no time! Breakfast began at eight, and sessions began at nine o’clock on the dot. Attendees got a fascinating look at the overall diesel and freight industry from Lindsay Bur, Senior Economist at American Trucking Associations. Trucks are the backbone of the freight industry…and the amount of shipping going on in this country directly impacts the amount of trucks that chug their way into repair shops.

Jamie Irvine of Heavy Duty Consulting (and Heavy Duty Parts Report fame!) provided a snapshot of the parts industry as it exists in this moment—along with what might be coming next. Following a delicious lunch (more on that below), attendees were able to choose their own adventures: several breakout sessions occurred simultaneously. Yes, you’ll get recaps of those, but they included:

  • Diesel Data: Marketing Metrics to Drive Shop Success
  • Manage By Numbers: 4 Data Points For a Profitable Shop
  • Accepting Payments In the Shop: The Good, The Bad and the Ugly
  • The Power of Counter Sales
  • Efficiency Hacks to Streamline Your Shop

We rounded out the day with our very first all-female Shop Owners Roundtable featuring some famous guest stars that you may have seen on the blog and in webinars. We’re talking Ashley Sowell of Integrity Fleet Services, Jennifer Wilson of Inland Empire Fleet Maintenance, and Jessica Wendt of HM Repairs & Services. Yes, they talked about being women in a heavily male industry—but they also talked about running successful repair businesses.


Was three days of diesel enough for our merry crowd? Time (and those surveys we sent out) will tell. On the final day of the conference, notable breakout sessions included Building a Shop Budget Workshop (we’re told attendance was overflowing) with Jacob Findlay and Robby Gilbert—the resident financial whizzes of Fullbay—and How to Build a One-Man Repair Business with Jordan Steen of Six Gun Diesel Performance and Repair.

Other offerings included Expanding & Growing Your Shop, a deep dive into the famed Customer Portal, and a Shop Owner Roundtable featuring Mike Schwarz of Iron Buffalo, Jordan Steen of Six Gun Diesel Performance and Repair, and Peter Cooper of Merx Trucking & Trailer.

And then, folks, the day was done.

(Well, the day itself wasn’t done—we wrapped at about 1—but Diesel Connect was done, and really, once the sun goes down on DC, it goes down on all the world.)


We don’t usually dedicate huge portions of this blog to culinary musings, in large part because the marketing team lives for food and writing about grub just makes us hangry. But there was a lot of good food at the conference.

  • BREAKFASTS: Served buffet-style. Eggs, bacon, sausage, French toast, fruit, and more. This writer went back for seconds…and maybe thirds.
  • LUNCHES: Italian one day, yummy sandwiches another!
  • DINNERS: Holy gorgonzola, guys, on Monday night there was incredible mac n’cheese, brisket, and, um, the infamous exploding injectable jelly donuts that took way too long for the marketing team to figure out (in the future: remove the cap before you attempt to inject the jelly into the donut hole). Oh yeah, and one night there was a build-your-own-churro station. Need we say more?

In other words, there was a lot of fantastic food.


On day one, we packed up and headed out to Topgolf, where attendees could channel their inner Phil Mickelson (or just watch everyone else channeling their inner Phil Mickelson). There was an open bar (we totaled 315 beers and 33 wines consumed…good job, guys!), a band, and some friendly competition between shop owners.

On day two, we trooped out to the hotel lawn for an evening mixer headlined by Highway 85 and that aforementioned churro station (okay, dinner was pretty awesome, too). There were also some lively games, a bit of dancing, and yes, discussion of what everyone wanted to do next year.

Dang. Our attendees got to planning even earlier than we did!


You can’t say “Diesel Connect” without “Connection”…well, okay, that comparison is a little scrambled, but you know what we mean. All the cool panels and discussions don’t mean anything if people don’t attend. This year, 310 of Fullbay’s finest gathered at Wild Horse Pass to learn about and celebrate the diesel industry and each other, and honestly, we think that’s pretty darn cool.

“Outside, in the real world, we’re all competitors,” said Jennifer Wilson during the first Shop Owner Roundtable. “But today we’re together, and we’re all learning from each other. And that’s absolutely awesome.”

And that, good friends, is why we cannonballed into the crazy world of conferences in the first place. It’s hard work, but it’s incredibly rewarding.

We hope to see you there in 2025!

Suz Baldwin