Montgomery Business Journal

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KEEPING THE TRUCKING INDUSTRY MOVING

January 2015
By Melissa George Bowman
Photography by Robert Fouts

When you’re in the market for a new car, chances are you don’t consider how many tons it can carry or how well it can handle multiple cross-country trips. If you’re a Four Star Freightliner customer, however, those are typical questions you might ask.

Four Star Freightliner is a truck dealership and service center specializing in medium and heavy-duty trucks. Its products include Daimler Trucks North America brands Freightliner and Western Star.

“We’re a full-service Daimler truck dealer,” said Four Star Freightliner Dealer Principal Jerry Kocan. “We sell the trucks and lease them and service them and sell parts for them. Anything that you need for a commercial truck, we can do.”

Fifteen years ago Kocan was vice president and general manager of an Atlanta-based Volvo and GMC truck dealership when Freightliner approached him about running a franchise in Alabama. He gladly accepted the opportunity and purchased dealerships in Dothan and Montgomery that Freightliner had recently acquired. He then merged what had been competing dealerships into one company – Four Star Freightliner. The business has been growing ever since.

The Montgomery and Dothan locations were so successful that Kocan soon needed to open an additional facility in Tifton, Georgia, to serve a growing number of customers. Next came a location in Tallahassee, Florida, and then Valdosta, Georgia. Most recently, Four Star Freightliner opened its sixth location in November of 2014 in Albany, Georgia.

Four Star Freightliner’s business is built around medium and heavy-duty trucks. As Kocan explains, these-type vehicles range in size from anything beyond large pick-up trucks to 18-wheelers. They are categorized as either Class 6, Class 7 or Class 8, which refers to the amount of weight they are allowed to carry.

“Class 6 and 7 would be trucks that stay in town. They deliver goods in and around town like building materials, office supplies, anything for local business,” Kocan said. “Class 8 are typically the ones that are moving goods across the country, either freight or moving supplies.”

Four Star Freightliner has been successful not only because it has a good mix of clients in all three classifications, but also because its customers come from the local area and from across the country. In the Class 6 and 7 group, Kocan says the majority of clients include local utility companies and municipalities. Organizations that deliver goods and services, such as Construction Materials and Bama Budweiser, also fall into this category. In terms of Class 8, Kocan says about half his business comes from major fleets such as Wal-Mart and Schneider that travel through the area and may need servicing.

“We’re blessed that we have the interstate system here – we have 85 and 65,” he said. “If you’re going through the central part of the country, you’ve got to come down 65 and if you want to go east, 85 ends here. So we get a lot of people that are either coming 65 north or they’re coming 65 or 85 south.”

No matter where their clients come from, Four Star Freightliner strives to provide them all the best customer service. Because it may not always be convenient for a company to send a truck away for servicing, Four Star Freightliner has vehicles equipped to provide service on-site when necessary. They also offer emergency 24-hour service to handle any kind of breakdown. If a truck in need of repairs is carrying a “hot load” – a term describing a shipment that must be delivered in a short timeframe – they can even provide drivers rental trucks to help meet deadlines while a truck is being serviced.

In addition to top-notch customer service, Kocan says that “without question, people” are what set Four Star Freightliner apart from the competition.

“I’ve been so lucky to have hired and retained really good people in all my locations,” he said.

Because the company values its employees, much of its time and resources are spent on training and development. Kocan encourages staff members to advance themselves by earning certifications in the different models and products of the industry.

“Once they get a certification, they get another increase in pay,” he said. “They can essentially give themselves raises by continuing their education.”

That investment in people has certainly paid off. Four Star Freightliner’s employees have helped the company earn several industry recognitions, including Elite Support Certification at four of its six locations. The designation is given to a select group of dealerships nationwide that have demonstrated exceptional customer service by meeting 135 standards across 19 areas. Additionally, account manager Truman Ingram has been named one of Freightliner’s Top 20 sales representatives in North America for two consecutive years.

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