Heavy Duty Trucking Supplements

Truck Dealer of The Year 2014

The Fleet Business Authority

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T D Truck Dealer of theYear 2014 4 pal fleets, grocery stores and pickup and delivery operations that are home every night. However, Sherwood, who's also located in the Marcellus, notes that while natural gas is plentiful under the ground in northeast Pennsylvania, there's still a lack of fueling infrastructure that is holding back faster adoption of natural gas vehicles. For Treadway, LNG is pushing the envelope in the Rocky Mountains, and the dealer has been retrofitting facilities and building designated service bays that can accommodate LNG. McMahon says interest in natural gas is "significant but spotty." Its Tennessee location is seeing significant business, and in general, refuse and other applications that are home every night are taking a harder look at it, such as concrete mixers, municipal fleets and daycab operations. In Wisconsin, Reilley says, trucking companies have embraced CNG. With typical freight patterns being fairly predictable, with a lot of routes going to Chicago, natural gas is a more feasible option than for fleets with irregular routes where fueling infrastructure may not be available. For Reilley, the adoption of natural gas by his customers is affected by International only offering one gas engine, the Cummins Wesport ISL G, in the TranStar day cab. However, other products are soon to follow, Reilley says, and his company is looking to build a new CNG-compliant dealership from the ground up at one of its existing locations. The changing landscape The successful dealers of today are far more than sellers of trucks and service. "I think diversification is critical," Treadway says. "In our case, we rely upon geographic diversification and the different vocational segments. We're looking at other alternatives HDT • FEBRUARY 2014 right now to go further." That could include adding a trailer franchise, he says, but one thing they're not considering is getting into logistics. That, Treadway says, is too much like competing with customers. Another possible avenue for diversification is getting into the independent parts business. "There's a trend with dealers starting or acquiring independent distributors, and not pulling them into their network but continuing to operate them independently," Treadway notes. Allstate Peterbilt Group expanded its parts sales by going digital. Several years ago it started selling parts online through www.peterbiltparts.com. Existing customers can log in and get the same parts pricing they do when ordering other ways. "If you wake up at 3:30 a.m. and decide you need more brake shoes, you can hit the button and it generates a pick ticket," Larson says. Parts and service, of course, has become much more important for all dealerships. "In the over-the-road business, buying habits have changed," Sherwood says. "There are more trucks bought out of a central office, and some of that business is harder for an individual dealer to get into. Of course, the way we work that is through our service and parts. If your brand is running up and down I-81 and needs to be repaired, it doesn't matter if you sold that truck or not." But dealers are going beyond just expanding the parts and service operations. Reilley says his company is always looking for ways to improve its reach to the customer. "There's not a competitor in our market that can match the breadth and depth of our services," he says. A financing company, refrigerated service, mobile maintenance, safety and compliance training, leasing and more are offered. For Sherwood, its location in northeast Pennsylvania in the midst of the Marcellus Shale has meant a boom for vocational truck business. The dealership has converted much of its logging equipment business into serving the vocational trucks of the gas fields, doing repairs and welding, mounting water tanks and winches, etc. Financing and leasing operations have become more common. "The availability of financing can be a roller coaster," Fyda says, "and we've developed our own company, Highway Commercial Services, to finance customers. In 2000 we saw credit so tight, they were denying good customers credit." As Larson put it, "The banks, some days they're in, some days they're out. At the end of the day, 2014 TRUCK DEALER OF THE YEAR

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