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Second group graduates from tech program

TrainingClass2015

Truck Country’s second class of internally, educated certified service technicians completed their studies last month.

Nine students from across the Truck Country family of dealerships completed the intensive 10-month training program, where they split time between studying and training at the company’s Technician Training Center in Cuba City, Wis. and working at their home dealerships.

This year’s graduating class included: Brandon Sisler, of Truck Country-Dubuque; Zach Dillman, of TC-Dubuque; Jarett March, of TC-Shullsburg; Devon Foley, of TC-Shullsburg; Travis Brown, of TC-Cedar Rapids; Austin Colbrese, of TC-Davenport; Dustin Bankes, of TC-Davenport; Anthony Clayton, of TC-Appleton; and Dustin Dix, of TC-Appleton. Dealer trainer Terry Straw led the class for the second consecutive year, while Jon Pedley joined him.

Program graduates completed their studies with a celebration on July 3, McCoy Group President and CEO Greg McCoy, as well as Truck Country of Iowa Vice President Bill Roth and Truck Country of Wisconsin Vice President Dan Armstrong addressed students.

Meanwhile, general managers and service managers from the dealership group were invited to attend the festivities.

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Truck Country plans move to larger facility, additional jobs

In January 2016, Truck Country officials anticipate moving into a new 52,000-square-foot facility, adjacent to the company’s current dealership location on Dubuque’s south side.

Site preparation has started at the location, with construction to begin in the coming weeks.

The new facility will enhance the company’s ability to expand to serve its customers with expanded service bay areas, an enhanced driver’s lounge, a larger parts retail display area and other upgrades to provide the facility with the industry’s leading technology.

Meanwhile, the larger building will allow the company to expand its workforce. Plans call for approximately 10 positions to be added following the move.

“The expanded dealership will allow us to not only serve our customers with first-rate technology and amenities, but it also enables us to offer additional, high-quality diesel technician jobs in our service department,” said Bill Roth, Truck Country-Iowa vice president.

Located south of the current dealership building, the address of the new facility will be 3201 Hwy. 61/151.

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States look for means to fund roads

As the Wisconsin Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee began taking action last week to rewrite Gov. Scott Walker’s 2015-17 budget proposal, there has yet to be any revenue proposal to partially replace the $1.3 billion in bonding for roads and bridges over the next two years.

In part, that’s because legislators are waiting for new state revenue estimates expected to be released on May 7. Legislators are also quietly mulling options to address the state’s well-documented transportation needs.

However, most of those options don’t come close to generating the kind of revenue that is needed in the Wisconsin transportation industry, according to the Wisconsin Transportation Builders Association. Instead, the WTBA is advocating for what classifies raising the state’s gas tax for the first time in nine years.

Here are what other states have recently done to increase transportation funds:

Iowa: GOP Gov. Terry Branstad and the split Legislature in February increased the fuel tax by 10 cents a gallon.

South Dakota: GOP governor and GOP Legislature last month approved increases of 6 cents a gallon on fuel taxes and 20 percent on vehicle registration fees.

Utah: GOP governor and GOP Legislature last month increased the fuel tax by 5 cents a gallon and created a 12 percent tax on the wholesale price of fuel to replace the flat tax in the future.

Georgia: GOP Legislature has sent GOP governor the equivalent of a 7-cent a gallon gas tax increase and Gov. Nathan Deal has indicated he will sign it.

Idaho: GOP governor and GOP Legislature agreed to increase the state fuel tax 7 cents a gallon.

New Hampshire: Last year, the Democratic governor and GOP Legislature raised the state fuel tax 4 cents a gallon.

In addition, Kentucky and North Carolina, which have variable rate taxes tied to the wholesale cost of fuel, recently took steps to prevent revenue losses because of the drop in prices at the pump.

Source: Wisconsin Transportation Builders Association

 

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Truck Country Opens Ninth Wisconsin Location

On Dec. 29, 2014, Truck Country added its ninth Wisconsin location when Truck Country – North Milwaukee opened. Located at 9202 N 107th St, Milwaukee, Truck Country – North Milwaukee is the dealership family’s first Wisconsin location licensed to offer new Western Star trucks.

In addition to Western Star truck sales, Truck Country – North Milwaukee offers service and parts for all makes and models of heavy- and medium-duty trucks and RVs. The dealerships hours of operation are from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.

“In addition to continuing to offer Freightliner trucks at our other Wisconsin locations, Truck Country – North Milwaukee gives us the opportunity to offer quality Western Star trucks to our Wisconsin customers,” said Dave Bernard, Truck Country – North Milwaukee and Oak Creek general manager.

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Longtime, colorful employee calls it a career

During her 20 years working for TruckCountry, Carol Burkart was allowed to choose the color scheme for a new truck once, and just once.

“It was the color of the Pink Panther,” recalled Carol.

Soon thereafter, Carol thought the decision, which was made during her first years with the company, would mark the end of her time with Truck Country.

Working in cahoots with others at the Dubuque dealership, Mark Johannsen, who is now general manager in Dubuque, approached Carol at her second-floor desk, which overlooked the garage.

“Mark Johannsen come up and said, ‘Carol, you have to see this,” Carol smiled. “I looked into the garage and Mike McCoy was standing in the garage shaking his head (while looking at the pink truck). I can still hear Mark say, ‘Carol, what were you thinking when you ordered the truck?’”

Not yet aware of the prank, Carol thought her dismissal was forthcoming. However, she ended up having the last laugh.

The truck was eventually put in the lot at the Dubuque dealership and 48 hours later it was sold, Carol recalled.

“It was a damn good thing for me it did,” she chuckled. The prank is just one of many fond memories with which Carol will take with her when she retires from the company at the end of the year.

Starting at Truck Country in March 1994 when she took the newly created position of New Trucks Sales Coordinator, Carol has continued on in the role during the duration of her career with company.

Shortly before starting with the company, Carol returned to her native Dubuque after spending the previous 30 years in Chicago.

Carol knew little about the trucking industry upon starting with the company.

A quick study, Carol credits Dawn McCoy and Dennis LeGrand with teaching her and helping her learn the ins and outs of the industry.

Over the past two decades, Carol has watched as the company has grown while her job evolved.

“It started out with truck sales on an 8 1/2 -by 11-inch piece of paper,” she said, noting the sheet featured around 20 trucks.

However, as a focus grew on having a larger inventory of stock trucks, the “green bar,” as truck printout sheets used to be called, grew to nine or 10 pages.

Meanwhile, Carol said other aspects of the position have “streamlined a lot” over the years, including the implementation of software to order and track orders.

“The needs of business are a lot different then they once were,” she said.

As she prepares for retirement, Carol will miss working with the many different fleet customers she has dealt with over the years.

“It has been a joy to work with the people from Wal-Mart and Lessors,” she said.

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Workforce Development Official Visits Tech Training Center

Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development officials have touted Truck Country for the company’s initiative to develop homegrown talent as part of the Wisconsin Fast Forward initiative.

On Sept. 10, Workforce Development Deputy Secretary Jonathan Barry visited Truck Country’s Technician Training Center in Cuba City, Wis. to meet with managers and workers. In May, state officials awarded Truck Country a $319,930 Wisconsin Fast Forward grant to provide training for 24 new hires to become certified Freightliner diesel technicians after a 10-month education program.

The program’s inaugural completed its studies with a luncheon and awards ceremony in July, with four graduates being honored.

“Truck Country welcomes this opportunity to help create new jobs for Wisconsin,” said Mike Birkett, Vvice president of human resources for Truck Country. “These funds will enable us to implement enhanced training facilities and programs for diesel technicians, ensuring highly qualified workers for the future of the state and the trucking industry.”

The Wisconsin Fast Forward training program was initiated in 2013 to encourage partnerships between employers and workforce and economic development organizations.

“Gov. (Scott) Walker’s approach to delivering customized, employer-driven training is helping Wisconsin companies in growing sectors like transportation employ the well-trained and skilled workers they need for success in the 21st century economy,” Workforce Development Secretary Reggie Newson said in a press release.

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First class completes program at Truck Country Tech Center

The first class to complete the Truck Country Diesel Tech Training Program and their instructors include: from left, Terry Straw (trainer), Thad Lartz, Nathan Stodden, Kevin Hoppe, Robert Wiskerchen and Lee Buss (trainer).

The first class to complete the Truck Country Diesel Tech Training Program and their instructors include: from left, Terry Straw (trainer), Thad
Lartz, Nathan Stodden, Kevin Hoppe, Robert Wiskerchen and Lee
Buss (trainer).

The inaugural class of Truck Country’s certified Diesel Tech Training program has graduated. On July 3, a luncheon and certificate presentation ceremony was held for the program’s graduates at the recently opened Technician Training Center in Cuba City, Wis.

The 10-month program saw attendees splitting their time between the training center and their home dealerships, as they learned the trade of becoming certified service technicians.

Thad Lartz, of Truck Country – Davenport; Nathan Stodden, of Truck Country – Dubuque; Kevin Hoppe, of Truck Country – Milwaukee; and Robert Wiskerchen, of Truck Country – Wausau, were the initial graduates of the program. Terry Straw and Lee Buss led the group.

The graduates were appreciative of the attention to detail the class provided. “We came in knowing nothing,” said Hoppe, reflecting on how far the students have learned since the program started.

Lartz appreciated the high level of devotion the program demanded. “It definitely weeds out the people who don’t want to be here,” he said.

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Wausau location hosts propane truck open house

Ron Anders, technical sales manager at Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp., provided information about the Freightliner Custom Chassis propane truck during an customer open house at Truck Country’s Rothschild, Wis. location on July 1. Anders provided customers with details on how to save on fuel costs by using propane-powered trucks.

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McCoy Group, Inc. and Stoops Freightliner announce acquisition

 The Truck Country family is growing.

On May 23, officials with McCoy Group Inc — the parent company of Truck Country — announced an agreement has been reached to purchase Stoops Freightliner – Quality Trailer, based in Indianapolis, Indiana. The sale will include all six Stoops locations in Indiana and Ohio, as well as Stoops NationaLease and JES Leasing LLC. The transaction will be effective on or around July 1, 2014.

With the acquisition of Stoops Freightliner, Truck Country will now own and operate 18 full-service Freightliner dealerships, serving customers in Iowa, Wisconsin, Indiana and Ohio. This growth will allow the organization to expand sales, service, parts, and operational support to customers across the country.

Meanwhile, McCoy NationaLease will double in size, establishing a wider leasing network for their valued customers.

The convergence of these two established and successful family-owned dealership groups creates a pinnacle within the Freightliner community. The McCoy Group and the Stoops organizations have much in common, growing their businesses through years of hard work, integrity above reproach, and an unparalleled commitment to their talented employees and valued customers.

Current Stoops owner, Jeff Stoops, will remain with the company as president to help oversee the transition to the new ownership.

Stoops Freightliner sells Freightliner, Sprinter and Western Star trucks, in addition to Wabash, Transcraft, Timpte and East trailers. Stoops locations are all Elite Support certified, and include new and used truck sales, full service, parts, and leasing. 

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Inspections are on the horizon

National highway roadchecks are on the horizon.

The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance announced inspections will take place June 3-5, with roughly 10,000 state, local and federal enforcement agencies conducting roadside inspections over the 72-hour period.

In 2013, more than 70,000 inspections were conducted during the period, which resulted in a 22 percent out-of-service rate for equipment and a 4 percent out-of-service rate for drivers, according to overdriveonline.com. 

Among the main equipment targets that will be targeted during the inspections, include: brakes, coupling devices, fuel and exhaust systems, lighting, cargo securement, steering, suspension, suspension and tires, wheels, rims and hubs. 

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