Getting to know our Successful Dealer Award finalists: Inland Kenworth

Jonathan Willis

August 21, 2017

Kenworth truck parkedThe origins of Inland Kenworth date back to the late 1940s when founder Lloyd Parker launched Parker Pacific Equipment, selling U.S. war surplus vehicles for use in Canada.

Less than a decade later, Parker’s success led him to start Inland Kenworth, opening his first dealership in 1957. As one of the first Kenworth dealers in Canada, expectations from customers wanting a premium quality truck were high.

By the end of the 1960s, Inland Kenworth had grown to 10 dealership locations.

The 1980s were a time of both economic prosperity and hardship. With high interest rates and an economic recession, many organizations focused solely on surviving. Despite these challenging times, Inland had its sights set on expansion and acquired Southern California Kenworth dealerships in Fontana and Los Angeles as well as a dealership in Phoenix, Ariz.

Now, with more than 20 Kenworth dealerships around North America, Inland Kenworth is one of the oldest and largest Kenworth dealers in the world.

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A large amount of credit for the company’s success is given to their willingness to train both their staff and customers alike.

“Training customers in the latest Kenworth parts programs is extremely helpful to our customers and has dramatically increased our sales,” says parts manager Vic Stiller.

Last year, Stiller and his team trained more than 80 customers to use ECAT – a program that lets customers look up every nut and bolt on a truck and OPC – Kenworth’s Online Parts Counter. OPC allows customers to log in and see what parts are in stock, what the price is and order them with just a click.

“Once we started providing on-site training, we found that the resistance to these computer systems dropped to nothing,” Stiller says. “The customers began using the system the very next day.”

Additionally, the truck sales staff is well-trained by Kenworth. New Truck Sales Manager Don Blake says, “Our customers expect us to be the experts and bring them solutions to their individual needs, so we invite a vendor to present at almost every sales meeting.”

But, it was a meeting of another sort that Blake attended that put the company in the spotlight in 2016.

Blake attended a presentation by Truckers Against Trafficking, an organization that fights human trafficking at truck stops. After learning of the evils that are perpetrated against children, Blake says he knew he wanted to help in some way.

He approached Inland’s president, Bill Currie, with a request for $12,000 and the idea to build a special themed truck, have industry suppliers sponsor it, then have Ritchie Brothers auction it off and donate all the proceeds to Truckers Against Trafficking.

It took Currie one second to say, “done.”

With that first Inland donation, the “Everyday Heroes” truck was born and has been making appearances across the country, including: TMC, Ritchie Brothers auctions and even the Arizona State Capital.

“We have raised $89,000 in direct sponsorship and roughly $35,000 in in-kind sponsorship,” Blake says.

“The ‘Everyday Heroes’ truck is making a lasting impact, much more so than we could have ever imagined. It’s gratifying to pull so many people together for a cause and to fight something so awful as human trafficking. Many people have worked to make this possible and it’s just unreal.”

Blake says the project became a labor of love and one that took a great deal of time and work to make possible.

“What we wanted to do with this is to shift people’s mindsets about human trafficking,” he says. “All of the sponsors and the people with Truckers Against Trafficking have been tremendous. Everyone worked together to make sure this project was successful and one that made a greater impact than many things that we’ve done.”

Inland Kenworth is one of five Successful Dealer Award finalists invited to the Great American Trucking Show in Dallas. The winner of the award will be announced on Thursday, Aug. 24.

The other finalists have been profiled in separate articles in recent weeks.

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