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Truck Country-Stoops Leland James winners announced

Congratulations to the Truck Country/Stoops winners of the Freightliner Leland James Elite 2015-2016 program!
The Freightliner program recognizes sales professionals for their sales excellence, customer service and industry leadership.
Top 20 Elite Trip Winners
Tony Bodway — TC Oak Creek
Greg Danner — TC Kaukauna
Silver Elite Trip Winner
Dennis LeGrand — TC Dubuque
Elite Winners
Greg Allen — Stoops Lima
Chris Bertagnoli — TC Oak Creek
Luke Burbach — TC Oak Creek
Scott Donovan — Stoops Indianapolis
Sam Gayhart — TC Oak Creek
Jim Glindinning — TC Oak Creek
Paul Hajos — TC Kaukauna
Alan Hansen — TC Rothschild
Rick Kinney — TC Kaukauna
Sales Manager Trip Winner
Michael Gleiter — TC Kaukauna

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Truck Country/Stoops honored as Successful Dealer Award finalist

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Stoops’ Lehman and Larabee post strong showings at OTA competition

On May 20-21, the 2016 OTA Truck Driver Championship (TDC) and the Technician Competition was held. Stoops of Lima was the main sponsor of the event. Stoops' Nate Lehman took second place in the overall competition, while Jeremiah Larabee finished in third place. From left, Larabee, Kylie Hamp of Stoops Lima, who served as the company's representative, and Lehman.

On May 20-21, the 2016 OTA Truck Driver Championship (TDC) and the Technician Competition was held. Stoops of Lima was the main sponsor of the event. Stoops’ Nate Lehman took second place in the overall competition, while Jeremiah Larabee finished in third place. From left, Larabee, Kylie Hamp of Stoops Lima, who served as the company’s representative, and Lehman.

On May 20-21, almost 300 truck drivers, 32 mechanical technicians and over 800 attendees from all around the state of Ohio converged on Kalahari Resorts & Convention Center in Sandusky, Ohio, for the 2016 Ohio Trucking Association Truck Driver Championship (TDC) and the Technician Competition.

Stoops Freightliner, of Lima ,was the main sponsor and competed with two technicians in the competition, Nate Lehman finished in second place overall and won one station, while Jeremiah Larabee took third place overall and was the winner of three stations. They both have been sponsored to compete in the national competition in Raleigh, NC.

Meanwhile, Steve Burke Jr., of Stoops’ fleet customer, Dick Lavy Trucking, was the overall champion.

Kylie Hamp, of Stoops Lima, was the company representative and carried out the sponsor duties for the week.

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Garner D.O.Y. drives masterpiece from Stoops


Garner Trucking Driver of the Year Gary Smith and Garner President Sherri Garner Brumbaugh stand in front of the Freedom Truck.

Everywhere he goes recently, Garner Trucking’s Gary Smith feels like the center of attention. And there’s a good reason for that.
Since Sept. 19, Smith has been driving a brand new “Freedom Truck,” a Freightliner Cascadia emblazoned with patriotic-themed décor. The 2016 model features the Statue of Liberty and Mount Rushmore on the driver side paneling, while the Lincoln Memorial and a view of the U.S. Capitol are showcased on the passenger side rear paneling.
Garner President WAl presented Smith, the company’s driver of the year, with keys to the truck at the business’ annual meeting.
“Gary Smith is enjoying the attention that his new wheels create,” recounted Sonja Walsh, an administrative assistant for Garner. “He has stories of how people from all walks of life come up to him to comment on the beauty of his truck. He said some elementary children have even come up to him with excitement that they recognize pictures on his truck from their social studies in school.”
Garner Brumbaugh said the decision to acquire the Freedom Truck was based in part on the company’s involvement with the Truckload Carriers Association, which supports patriotic initiatives like delivering wreaths to cemeteries to honor deceased veterans and transporting a replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall to communities around the country.
Garner Brumbaugh praised Stoops Freightliner’s Lima location, as well as sales representative Ed Quatman, with helping make the truck a reality.
“We’ve had a long-time relationship,” she said. “They really worked with us.”
Garner Trucking is a family-owned and operated business that is marking its 55th anniversary in 2015. Garner Brumbaugh is a second-generation president of the company, succeeding her father, Vern, who passed away in 2007.
Today, the regional transporter employs 160 employees and utilizes approximately 100 trucks and 400 trailers as it typically makes deliveries from western New York to the Mississippi River and from Michigan to as far south as South Carolina.

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Carriers seek to recruit, retain drivers

Fleet owners are pulling out all of the stops to boost recruiting and retention efforts.

A recent article by’s Sean Kilcarr highlights the unique challenges companies face when attracting new faces to the industry.

“With an aging workforce, transportation companies are facing an array of challenges when trying to find new talent,” Ken Ferguson, a representative of the employment screening provider, HireRight, told Kilcarr.

According to the American Trucking Associations, one-in-six long-haul drivers will retire by the year 2017.

Currently, there are countless jobs that are unfilled.

“At the moment, we already have 30,000 unfilled jobs for drivers in the trucking industry,” ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello recently said in a story which appeared at “As the industry starts to haul more because demand goes up, we’ll need to add more drivers, nearly 100,000 annually over the next decade, in order to keep pace.”

Among other things, Ferguson said tight regulations and training requirements, as well as an improving economy, contributed to making competition for available drivers tough.

“The market for drivers is tight as the economy continues to improve, the situation will only get tougher,” Ferguson said. “Competition is intense (and) drivers are at a premium and can easily move from one carrier to another to switch jobs.”

Meanwhile, an improving job market, below-expectation salaries and tight regulations are prone to push would-be drivers to other careers.

“This is because local trucking firms often require two years of experience to keep insurance premiums down,” Ferguson added to Kilcarr. “Thus many younger drivers are drawn to construction and other jobs that pay more, and allow more time at home.”

In return, the carriers are trying to draw drivers though using methods such as increasing social media usage and opening driver training schools.

Furthermore, more companies are focusing on keeping the drivers they already have in place.

“As a fleet manager, its crucial to understand that there isn’t a ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution to recruiting and retaining drivers,” Vikas Jain, a vice president and general manager for FleetRisk Advisors, which focuses on building predictive models for the trucking industry since 2005, told Kilcarr.

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Long-distance employee

One thousand four hundred is a large number on its own right.

As large as the figure may be, it is even bigger considering it is a reflection of the numberof miles that separates Truck Country employee James Stolash’s workplace from Truck Country of Appleton, his “home” dealershipin Wisconsin.

While many miles separate Stolash from the Truck Country family of dealerships, yet he remains on the front line in terms of providing

quality customer service for the company.

Stolash, who will mark his third anniversary with Truck Country in February, serves as an intermediary between Truck Country and business partner, a manufacturer of custom fire and rescue vehicles.


In his role, Stolash works at the Pierce manufacturing facility in Bradenton, Fla., where he directly receives new trucks from the Freightliner manufacturing facility in Mt. Holly, NC.

One of Stolash’s primary duties is to complete pre-delivery inspections on the future fire trucks. He also addresses issues that may develop after trucks are on Pierce’s assembly line.

If a problem arises, Stolash is charged with determining the source of the problem, as well as when it originally occurred. If a problem is a mechanical issue, he will correct the issue in his work bay at the Pierce facility.

“My day is always new every day,” Stolash explained.

While Stolash is the lone Truck Country employee based in Florida, he receives support from the service department in Appleton. He frequently communicates with the Wisconsin-based staff through e-mails and phone calls.

Mike Gleiter, the general manager at Truck Country – Appleton, said Stolash plays an important role for the company.

“James is the front line for us,” Gleiter said, noting Stolash is a middleman between Truck Country and Pierce officials.  “The important part is, without someone like that, how long is the relationship (between Truck Country and Pierce) going to last?”

Stolash, who joined Truck Country after working for a Florida-based International dealership for 20 years, appreciates the unique working environment, in which he finds himself.

“Truck Country is a great company to work for and the people of Pierce are very understanding,” he said.

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Time is running short for tax savings

At Truck Country, we always feel the time is right to buy a quality new or used truck. But with the clock ticking away on 2013, the time might never be better to add a truck to your fleet.

As stimulus-created tax breaks are scheduled to run out at the end of the year for commercial vehicles, time is running short for businesses to take advantage of an opportunity to write-off a portion of qualified capital expenditures.

According to, the write-off is done by front-loading depreciation schedules for commercial vehicles weighing more than 6,000 lbs.

Also in an effort to encourage equipment purchases, the initiative allows businesses that spend more than $2 million on new equipment in 2013 are offered bonus depreciation

Those who are interested in investing in a truck must do so fast. Trucks must be on the road by Dec. 31 to qualify for the initiative, and it is unclear if the tax breaks will be rolled over to 2014.

For more info, visit .

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Idle Free Systems honors Truck Country as ‘North America Dealer of the Year’

A leading manufacturer of electric idle elimination solutions recently named Truck Country the “North America Dealer of the Year.”

Idle Free Systems CEO Robert Hopton named Truck Country the award winner during a dinner ceremony in conjunction with Idle Free’s North American dealer meeting this week.

According to a press release, the award recognizes the top Idle Free dealer that has excelled with superior sales, service and sales of the of the product line.

“We look forward to presenting the Idle Free North America Dealer of the Year award because it provides the perfect opportunity to recognize and reward our dealers for the hard work, dedication and service they bring to our mutual customers, and the fleet trucking industry as a whole,” Horton said in the press release. “Truck Country has a long history serving the trucking industry, and they have impressed us with their sales and support, regardless of the economic environment. Their entire team works extremely hard and is very focused on serving the needs of the customer.”

“Understanding and addressing our customers’ needs is what has helped define Truck Country as a dealer and driven our culture for the past 50-plus years,” added John Schmidtknecht, Corporate Parts Manager, Truck Country, in the press release. “It’s gratifying to be recognized as the top dealer in 2013 by Idle Free and this honor reflects on the accomplishments of our dedicated team who constantly meet and exceed our customers’ expectations.”

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Truck Country develops home-grown talent

Members of the inaugural tech training class include: from left, Kevin Hoppe, Thad Lartz, Nathan Stodden, dealer trainer Terry Straw, Justin Handley, Robert Wiskerchen and  Austin Harrmann

Members of the inaugural tech training class include: from left, Kevin Hoppe, Thad Lartz, Nathan Stodden, dealer trainer Terry Straw, Justin Handley, Robert Wiskerchen and Austin Harrmann

Truck Country is taking an organic approach to developing quality, certified service technicians.

By taking advantage of the organization’s newly opened Technician Training Center in Cuba City, Wis., Truck Country launched its inaugural certified Diesel Tech Training program in early September.

The 10-month program will see attendees splitting time between the center and their home dealerships. For the first four weeks of the program, students were slated to attend classes in Cuba City, before returning to their individual dealerships for four additional weeks to put to practice what they learned. Afterward, plans call for the program to run in two-week increments between the training center and dealerships.

Dealer trainer Terry Straw is leading the first class, which features six students from across the company’s dealerships. Four of the students are new to the company, while the other two have been with the company for a matter of months prior to joining the program.

“Right now, it is a lot of classroom time,” Straw said during the program’s first week.

Straw, however, anticipates the bulk of the students’ time will be spent in the shop, learning as they work on trucks.

“Here, we are going to focus on (learning by the philosophy of) ‘Here’s how you do it, so let’s go out and do it,” Straw said. “Most of the guys in the field are going to learn hands-on.”

Even when the students are away from their home dealerships, they will focus on customer service and getting the job done right, Straw added.

“If it takes us until 5 or 5:30 (p.m.) to complete a job, it takes us until 5 or 5:30 to do it,” said Straw, noting the class typically runs until 4 p.m. daily.

Straw hopes to use trucks from the company’s Used Trucks department to work on as part of the class. He said students would be able to assist the Used Trucks department by performing tasks on trucks that arrive on trade.

Although Truck Country program attendees will not receive credit like they would by going through a college or technical school program, the goal is for attendees to be competent, Freightliner certified technicians by the completion of the program.

The tech training class gathers in the shop to go over a truck students would start working on.

The tech training class gathers in the shop to go over a truck students would start working on.

“We took the idea of taking kids who couldn’t afford college or didn’t want to invest $30,000 to go to college,” Straw explained. “This gets them a paycheck, and gets them educated to start off in a field. A lot of these guys wouldn’t have an opportunity to start at a dealership without some kind of program like this.”

Robert Wiskerchen, of Truck Country’s Wausau dealership, fits the mold of student the program was looking to attract.

Wiskerchen explored the option of attending a trade school, but he quickly learned that matching a class schedule with working would be difficult. Instead, he decided to pursue participating in an apprenticeship program.

“I luckily called Truck Country and they told me about the program,” Wiskerchen said.

Thad Lartz, of the Davenport dealership, previously took college courses prior to joining the Truck Country team over a year ago.  He endorsed the company’s training program.

“It is great hands-on (experience), from start to finish,” said Lartz, who also noted the Truck Country program allows students to train on trucks that they likely would see in the shop.

As the program progresses, Straw expects the curriculum will change over time.

“This is a pilot class,” he said. “We’ll probably have some drastic changes as we develop the course section for next year.”

“We are the first class going through this,” Lartz added. “We understand we are guinea pigs.”

Dealer trainer Terry Straw, left, answers a  question from tech training student Robert Wiskerchen, of the Truck Country - Wausau locaton.

Dealer trainer Terry Straw, left, answers a question from tech training student Robert Wiskerchen, of the Truck Country – Wausau locaton.

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Truck Country sales staff members honored

Congratulations to three Truck Country employees who were recently named winners of Freightliner’s Leland James Elite 2012-2013 Program.
The Truck Country sales professionals achieved marks of sales excellence during the program.
Dennis LeGrand, of Truck Country-Dubuque, was honored as a Silver Elite Winner, and Paul Hajos, of Truck Country-Appleton, was named a top-20 Elite winner.
The pair has been invited to visit Charleston, S.C.
Meanwhile, Greg Danner, of Truck Country-Appleton, is among 30 additional winners who will receive a custom plaque for their sales efforts.

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