August 10, 2017
Four Star Freightliner grew from two former dealerships located in central and southern Alabama when owner Jerry A. Kocan bought the assets and assumed the locations of the Freightliner dealerships formerly known as Coblentz Truck Center in Montgomery, Ala., and Freightliner Trucks of Dothan, Ala., from Daimler in 1999 and 2000 respectively.
Seeing a need for a service facility to support the customers in south Georgia and those traveling on I-75, Four Star Freightliner opened a service facility off of Exit 59 on Interstate 75 in Tifton, Ga., in late 2001. In an effort to better support customers traveling on Interstate 10 and those in the panhandle of Florida, Four Star Freightliner opened a service facility in Tallahassee, Fla., off of Exit 196 and Capital Circle in 2003.
Presently, Four Star Freightliner employs more than 180 team members at its six certified Elite Support locations in Montgomery and Dothan, Ala., Tallahassee and the three Georgia dealerships in Tifton, Albany and Valdosta. The company reported more than $125 million in sales revenue in 2016.
Kocan, the dealer principal, says he is proud of having created a “family atmosphere” with regard to his employees. One of the building blocks of the company has been its ability to attract, hire and retain great employees and people, he says.
“Due to a high retention rate at the dealership locations as well as the commitment to invest in the employees, Four Star has experienced a consistent level of knowledge, expertise and support at each location,” Kocan added.
“A vast majority of the departmental managers have been “home grown” within our ranks. Our policy of promoting from within has helped Four Star attract, hire and retain excellent employees who have become our single biggest advantage.”
Building and retaining a staff does no good if those members can’t share their knowledge with customers. And that’s a critical part of Four Star’s success.
“Our vision is for our diesel technicians to be ranked as the highest skilled and trained technicians in our industry,” Kocan says.
“We implemented a plan to make it a reality. The first step was to create a training manager position so that he could work directly with each service manager at all six locations. The second step was to have all technicians receive 100-percent system certification in all of Daimler’s products. The training manager worked with all six service managers to layout plans to address gaps in the training. Each technician had to be evaluated to determine their current level of training. They were given a goal to become 100-percent system certified within a one year.”
Four Star Freightliner prefers to take a personal approach to educating its customers. From the sales department to the parts and service departments, Kocan says the company likes to personally talk customers through their purchase.
“We make it clear that we are always available to help them, no matter the hour,” he says. “When Four Star sells a vehicle to a company, that is not the end of the relationship. We then step in to educate the actual driver of the truck to ensure maximum satisfaction.”
Four Star has been creating a series of how-to YouTube videos designed to provide an on-demand resource for customers and the sales staff routinely does “walk-around videos” which are also posted to YouTube.
Four Star Freightliner and its leadership team are supportive of the communities where the dealerships are located, often providing financial support, time, and resources to school and community programs. Four Star Freightliner partnered with J. F. Ingram State Technical College in 2014 and has provided the school’s diesel mechanics class with equipment such as transmissions and engines. The company further invested in its partnership with the school by providing a loaner truck so the students, consisting primarily of incarcerated adults, have the opportunity to train on current technology and equipment.
They have also partnered with Lurleen B. Wallace Community College in Opp, Ala., to create opportunities for several students to receive scholarships and hands-on (paid) training from Four Star Freightliner.
“Students are hand-picked by the Diesel and Heavy Equipment Mechanics instructor at LBW Community College and receive college scholarships from Four Star Freightliner to help with tuition while they are also paid a wage and mileage to work in a Four Star shop on a part-time basis,” Kocan says.
“We are building a partnership with Wallace Community College in Dothan, Ala., to put a similar program in place there.”
Kocan says Four Star is especially dedicated to supporting causes that his employees are directly connected to including the Zachary Sizemore Memorial Scholarship. Zachary was a Four Star Freightliner employee who lost his battle with cancer at the age of 32. Four Star has chosen to honor Zachary by establishing a scholarship in his memory.
“I have had some great, great people and that’s the key to any amount of success that we have had.”
Four Star Freightliner is one of five Successful Dealer Award finalists invited to the Great American Trucking Show in Dallas in late August.
The other finalists will be profiled in separate articles in the coming weeks.