July 17, 2013
Brothers Kevin and John Gustainis bought Montana’s three Peterbilt dealerships in 2008 – five years ago next month – on another fairly significant milestone for PACCAR’s presence in Montana.
“We closed on the dealership August 1, 2008,” Kevin Gustainis says. “Forty five years earlier…The first Peterbilt dealership in Montana opened August 1, 1963.”
The family’s forray into trucking wasn’t exactly tilling foregin ground. Kevin broke into the trucking business in 1985 a truck salesman, a role he held for 12 years before joining PACCAR’s Peterbilt division as district sales manager. He was later named Peterbilt’s director of sales.
“It helps you when you know what a dealer has to do on a day to day basis,” Kevin Gustainis says of his venture from retail to wholesale. “Manufacturing and distribution are two totally different things. It helps to have been on both sides. You really kind of synch it all up.”
John Gustainis, who owns a successful site preperation and construction company in Texas, became Kevin’s right hand man in business management.
“His perspective on running a business is invaluable,” Kevin says. “He started his business from scratch. I didn’t know anything about really running a business, about employment law and that sort of thing. So having him really helped.”
The Gustainis’ early years in Montana were hardly dull. Shortly after the brothers took ownership of the former Northwest Peterbilt and Northwest Truck dealerships, the economy began to melt down around them.
“It probably took us about 14 to 18 months to figure out how to do business in a down economy,” Kevin says. “Man, talk about an experience and an education.”
After weathering the storm, the Gustainis were left with a shiny, new, state-of-the-art facility in southern Montana, located just off the intersection of Interstate 90 and 94.
The 54,000 square foot building sits on 18 acres with 27 service bays, including a wash bay and paint bay, with room to add up to 10 more.
The building also houses 15,000 square feet of parts.
The Montana Peterbilt footprint includes the full service dealership in Billings, another full service location in Missoula and a parts store in Columbia Falls.