2017 Distributor of the Year finalist: Potter Webster Company

Lucas Deal

November 13, 2017

There’s no question off limits for customers at Potter Webster Company. Whether it be inquiring about a product line, requesting a new service or fulfilling an underserved niche, Potter Webster says questions mean engagement, and engagement means opportunity.

And no one seizes opportunities like Potter Webster.“We look at our stores as one-stop shops for our customers, so we’re always on the lookout for new things we can bring in for them,” says Vice President and General Manager Rich Calcagno. “That’s how we’ve grown in the past, and it’s how we want to continue to grow [in the future].”

Over nearly eight decades in business Potter Webster has grown in many ways, each time at the behest or for the benefit of its customers, says President and CEO Dennis Webster.

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From its humble beginnings selling fenders, brakes and electrical parts for the Model T to its current position as one of the Pacific Northwest’s most diversified independent distributors, Potter Webster takes pride in being a business customers can come to and rely on. The commercial trucking market is evolving every day, and Calcagno says Potter Webster wants to position itself as experts to help their customers respond to any change.

It’s why the business is so appreciative of customer inquiries, he says.

“When they come to us and say, ‘Hey do you think you can do this?’ that’s great for us. That’s how we know they value what we do.”

A quick look at Potter Webster’s line card reveals what they do is nearly everything.

The distributor stocks a full line of medium- and heavy-duty parts, assorted light-duty lines and trailer parts from ATV haulers to off-road equipment. That parts inventory is supplemented by an enormous service and machine shop that rebuilds and remanufacturers drivelines, hydraulics, brakes and fan clutches, produces custom build cables, axle assemblies and U-bolt bending, as well as conventional drive-in service from its MacKay Truck Trailer and RV facility.

“A lot of the other companies around us dabble in one or two of those areas and specialize just in that. We have experts in all of those areas,” Calcagno says.

That expertise is built meticulously, through both training and acquisition. Calcagno says Potter Webster holds supplier training courses for customers and employees on a near weekly basis, and adds “every time we find something new for the business we bring in the manufacturer to train on it.”

In cases where capitalizing on a new opportunity requires more than a few hours training, Potter Webster expands. Calcagno mentions several of the company’s service divisions as past acquisitions strategically made to allow the company to enter a new market while maintaining its high standards for customer satisfaction and industry expertise.

In earning the company’s third Truck Parts & Service Distributor of the Year finalist nomination this year, Webster says it’s clear that focus on customer satisfaction is well placed.

“We like to say we’re ‘locally owned but nationally known,’” he says. “It’s a great honor to be recognized for what we do.”

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