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Gross earns bragging rights as Top Tech

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For the next year, Will Gross has the bragging rights as being named Truck Country’s Top Tech.

On the Sept. 23, 16 technicians from across Truck Country’s dealership group converged in Dubuque for the second annual Top Tech Rodeo, a contest that serves to name the company’s leading diesel technician for the year.

Of course, Gross has more than bragging rights to take from the event. Overall, Gross, of the Dubuque dealership, earned $3,500 from the contest, earning $3,000 with his first-place showing and scoring $500 as a result of winning the written exam. Greg Haring, of TC-Minocqua, finished in second place, netting him a $2,000 prize, and TC-Shullsburg’s Bobby Mosley won $1,000 after taking third place. The top-three place winners were also presented with a new jacket as a result of their efforts.

toptech-willgross_blogThis year’s Top Tech Rodeo took place at Truck Country’s new diesel technician training center, near the south edge of Dubuque. Participants took turns rotating between eight different stations, where their knowledge of all aspects of trucks was tested.

Presented with different test scenarios, technicians were challenged to find solutions to problems facing trucks in the areas of braking, starting, electrical, after-treatment, HVAC, DOT, service info and engine. A reception recognizing the winners was held later that evening at the Julien Hotel in downtown Dubuque.

Gross, a second-generation Truck Country technician who has worked fulltime with the company for 10 years, also participated in the rodeo in 2015.

While his returning experience helped, Gross said organizers did a good job of changing the stations from the 2015 event.

“I think there were a couple of stations they had last year that they didn’t have this year,” Gross said. “You just didn’t know what to expect.”

Gross, who recently was married, said belated honeymoon could be in store with his winnings.

Haring, who was participating in the Top Tech Rodeo for the first time, called the competition “intense.” However, afterward he predicted he was would try to participate again in future years.

“The McCoys treat us very well,” said Haring, who said he would invest his winnings in repairing his home and treating his family to dinner. “I definitely think it was a morale booster. It is a good time; a good learning experience.”

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Garner D.O.Y. drives masterpiece from Stoops

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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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Second group graduates from tech program

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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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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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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.

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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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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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Another Satisfied customer!

They say a man’s best friend is his dog.

That is certainly the case for Bemidji, Minn.-based long-haul driver Bob Horn, who has a loyal travel companion in the form of his pitbull/springer spaniel mix, Hank.Image

However, Horn and Hank can count now the Truck Country staff among their circle of friends after a late June maintenance visit.

Just weeks into his first driving job, he was piloting his 2007 Freightliner Century from its home base in Bemidji, Minn. to Texas when he started to experience issues with his engine misfiring when he shifted.

After delivering a load to Cresco, an official with First City Express, the company for which Horn drives, recommended he take a detour to the Truck Country location in nearby Decorah.  

While Truck Country service technicians took great care in the diagnosing the cause of the engine misfires, as well as correcting other unrelated issues the truck was experiencing, it was the “genuine concern” and treatment extended to Horn and his canine companion that stood out, the driver said.

“It was personable,” Horn recalled of his experience. “That is hard to come by these days.”

Horn said his positive experience at Truck Country started shortly after arriving at the Decorah location.  

Horn said he figured Hank was not invited inside the building, so the pair took refuge in the empty trailer they were pulling. However, soon thereafter, Parts & Service Manager Darin Bohr personally invited the pair into the driver’s lounge.

“Darin said, ‘He’s welcome inside, too,’” Horn said of Hank. 

Hank soon found himself not only in the driver’s lounge, but making the rounds of the building as he garnered all of the attention he could handle from the Truck Country staff, while Horn tended to other matters.

The hospitality of the Decorah staff only continued as the day progressed. As it became apparent the truck would require an overnight stay to be repaired and as concerned staff members departed for the day, Horn received offers to provide him with a ride to downtown so he could enjoy a meal. Technicians also parked his truck in the parking lot so he could sleep in the truck and spare him the expense of a hotel room.

“When I left there I thought, ‘How could have this turned out any better?’” Horn said. “The service was great, but just how welcoming everyone was (was better).”

For the Decorah staff’s efforts, Horn said the Truck Country family has added a loyal customer to its ranks. 

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