Learn more about 2023 Successful Dealer Award finalist Tom’s Truck Center

September 28th, 2023 by

By — Lucas Deal (TPS Chief Editor)
Sep 27th, 2023

Creativity drives business success for Tom’s Truck Center

The Los Angeles-area operation, which started as a gas station more than 70 years ago and also spent time as an automotive service center, car dealer and truck service shop before selling its first truck, has alwaysbeen known in southern California as a business that understands how to transform in intelligent ways to meet the future needs of customers.

Now staring down the state’s impending zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) revolution, Tom’s Truck Center is once again on the forefront of innovation. The dealer is following the Entrepreneurial Operating System, expanding and updating its business model to create a market strategy that will make Tom’s an essential player in the region for decades to come.

Such consistent change could be a challenge for a lesser dealer. But at Tom’s, change is part of the company’s DNA. The company tells customers it is “driven to keep you driving,” and CEO and President K.C. Heidler says doing that well takes a willingness and desire to evolve.

“We view ourselves as leaders in our market, and to do that we have to lead,” he says. “We have to be open to change and grow our business to meet new customer demands.”

A finalist for the Successful Dealer Award for the first time in 2023, Tom’s Truck Center’s commitment to being on the vanguard of the trucking industry can be found in its approach to electric vehicles. Over the last decade, Tom’s has made significant infrastructure investments to its two locations to support ZEV technology and has even partnered with a new OEM (Nikola) to prepare for a dwindling diesel and gasoline future.

Longtime supporters of medium-duty brands Ford, Hino and Isuzu, Tom’s Truck Center has deep roots in the internal combustion engine (ICE) space. The company’s salvage business for recycled and used engine parts is and will continue to be a major profit center. But Heidler says the dealer also understands it can’t put its head in the sand as new changes hit the market. As customers are pushed toward new propulsion options, Tom’s Truck Center is racing to do the same and become its region’s
expert on ZEV truck technologies.

“We recognize our state is all-in on ZEVs, so our role to do everything we can to put the customer in the best solution for their application,” Heidler says. “In situations where a ZEV fits a customer’s needs, we’ll put them there. When it doesn’t, we will have ICE options for them. But we have to commit to both to best support [the customer].”

Tom’s Truck Centers supports customers in other ways too. The company has mammoth digital video boards in front of its locations on I-5 and uses both to promote its business and its customers’ operations to the hundredsof thousands of vehicles that pass the signs each day.

Director of Marketing Nicole Azevedo says the service is greatly appreciated by customers, who receive exposure at a level they could not possibly achieve at their own locations.

Marketing has always been another of the company’s strengths. For many years, the business operated its own external marketing firm that provided digital marketing solutions to fellow truck dealers. Today the company remains one of the best digital marketing dealers in the industry, and through its e-commerce portal sells parts worldwide.

The company’s parts business is another market leader. Chief Operating Officer Jennifer Luis says Tom’s employs a full-time parts trainer to support its sales staff, which helps the dealer maintain its position as the region’s best parts provider. Tom’s delivers 90% of customer parts orders in 12 hours or less, and the company’s salvage business enables the business to offer a breadth of components unmatched in the region, Heidler says.

And the company’s focus on training is not limited to its parts division. Heidler’s father George, who led the business for nearly 40 years, was a huge supporter of technical and vocational education and the high school technical program in Santa Ana, California, is named in his honor.

Tom’s also supports customer training with its own outreach team, which connects with customers after they’ve bought a truck and educates them on the unit, warranty information, maintenance schedules and more. Heidler says the team is a secret weapon and has an enormous impact on customer engagement.

“It’s a huge differentiator,” he says. “Customers enjoy the experience and it gives them a chance to ask questions so they know everything they need to know when they receive their truck.”

The 2023 Successful Dealer Award is sponsored by Automann, Interstate Billing Service, Karmak, National Truck Protection and Premium 2000. For more information on the award program, go to the award story archive.

Source URL: https://www.truckpartsandservice.com/successful-dealer-award-archive/article/15634610/toms-truck-center-is-a-finalist-for-the-2023-successful-dealer-award

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