February 11, 2013
Jeff Stoops, President of Stoops Freightliner-Quality Trailer, was congratulated at Stoops’ Indianapolis dealership by William Hoelscher, Northeast Region Dealer Operations Manager for Daimler Trucks North America.
“The early days were a little bit different than they are today,” Stoops says of his entry into the marketplace, which put him across the desk from former competitors. “I had been in the trucking business before and I sold my truck line (Stoops Express), which had about 600 trucks at the time. When I became a dealer I hadn’t thought that the people I’m trying to sell my trucks to had been my competitors when I owned my truck line.”
Stoops said the dealership was eventually able to earn the trust of the fleet owners by making an investment in the marketplace.
“It took quite a bit of time to win those guys over,” he recalls. “In fact, it didn’t really happen until we built (the Indianapolis) facility. It was the largest facility built in the United States for trucks – about 80,000 square feet. It really showed our customers we had a commitment to the marketplace and were in it for the long haul. After that it became much easier.”
Stoops Freightliner – Quality Trailer has grown into one of the largest heavy and medium duty truck dealers in North America with a combined six locations in Indiana and Ohio, offering a complete line of semi truck brands such as Freightliner, Sprinter and Western Star. Dealerships also sell new and used trucks and trailers like Wabash and Transcraft.
A lot has changed over the past 25 years, moreso than just the body style and areodynamics of the trucks on the lot.
“Probably the biggest difference is our capabilities,” Stoops says. “When we started we were a small dealer. We had five mechanics, probably seven parts people and four or five salesmen. Over the years we’ve grown and have become a one stop shop for everything that a trucker could possibly need. We now have sixty-five technicians at our Indianapolis location.”
Throughout Stoops’ dealer network, the company has approximately 140 mechanics and upwards of 90 parts people.
“So a guy could bring a truck or trailer here and we can do anything he wants done,” he says. “Prior to that we were kind of limited to what we could provide. So today we’re a one stop shop and we’re proud of that. It doesn’t work for all our customers, but for most our customers we do everything.”
With 25 years behind him and many more ahead, Stoops has some fairly simple advice for dealers looking to enjoy a similar type of success and longevity.
“My thought has always been always follow your gut feeling and follow your instincts,” he says. “Work hard, hire the best people and never go against what your tummy tells you is wrong. Never ask anyone to do anything you wouldn’t do. Stay true to your business. If you make a mistake, fix it and move on down the road. Bottom line is follow your gut and don’t stray from it.”