Montgomery Business Journal

Slideshow image

Drew Linn Southland Trucking

Trailers Drive Business Growth

Southland International Trucks Creates Niche

April 2016
By David Zaslawsky   
Photography by Robert Fouts

About four years ago Southland International Trucks Inc. began selling new and used trailers and leasing them as well.

The move has been very good for the 30-year-old business with six locations in Alabama, including four dealerships. You cannot miss the Montgomery location if you drive near the main entrance to Maxwell Air Force Base on Maxwell Boulevard. The Southland International Trucks facility in Montgomery is located right across from that main entrance.

It made sense to expand the business with trailers. “We’re calling those customers anyway and a customer who has a truck – he’s got 1.6 trailers,” Southland International Trucks President Drew Linn said. “You can’t just have one-for-one. That’s where we’re seeing a big growth and the parts and service on trailers.”

The new trailers are Wabash, Transcraft and Benson, and used trailers from other manufacturers are
also sold.

The company has a trailer service center in Tarrant as well as a used truck/rental and lease and bus facility in Birmingham. There is a body shop located next door. Southland International Trucks was hoping to complete a new Tuscaloosa facility in March. The company built a new $200,000 warehouse on the Montgomery property to store parts. All four dealerships have warehouses.

The Montgomery facility used to occupy just a corner of the property, but about five years ago Linn invested $2 million in a new facility because “the need for our products and services was expanding,” he said.
The Montgomery staff has grown over the years
from 17 to 26.

“We have 150 to 175 years of experience under this roof (in Montgomery) and not only that, but they are still learning,” Linn said. “We have a tremendous learning program – continuing education, if you will.”

That experience and “character of the employees” helps set Southland International apart from rivals,
Linn said, but those are not the only factors. “I would say our capacity to sell more models within our brand; our service capacity across the state.”

The company sells International brand new models as well as used trucks from other manufacturers. There are medium-duty trucks, severe-service trucks, heavy-on highway trucks and buses. The engines are Cummins and Navistar. “We have different models and that’s something that is different than our competitors,” Linn said. “We have all these models under one roof.”

Southland International is now selling more new vehicles, but Linn said that used truck sales “are a viable part of our business. We’ve always been a big player in used trucks so we have a whole different department for used trucks.”

Different types of trucks have different customer bases. With school buses, Southland International salespeople will call on cities and counties, which may also have a need for a severe-service truck such as a garbage truck or dump truck.

“It’s different customers and that breeds different relationships, and the more relationships expands our parts and service business tremendously,” Linn said. “Just follow the trail – you sell a truck or give it away and then you get the parts and service business.”

In addition to selling new and used trucks and trailers, Southland International offers rentals and leases through its Idealease program. The rentals can be for a day, week or month while leases are for 13 months or longer. “We have about 430 pieces in our fleet and contract maintenance,” Linn said. He said the company is the third-largest conglomerate rental/leasing business in North America.

Southland International offers what it calls “Southland University,” which is classes, and many are free. Those classes are about training technicians, especially on engines, transmissions and general chassis, as well as about the trucking industry, and are available to all customers.

41 Commerce Street, P.O. Box 79, Montgomery, Alabama 36101   Tel: 334.834.5200   Fax: 334.265.4745   Sitemap