Late last year, the American Truck Dealers (ATD) announced the nominees for its 2024 Truck Dealer of the Year Award. Sponsored by Procede Software and Trucks, Parts, Service, ATD's Truck Dealer award honors dealer executives for their for business and industry leadership, business success and involvement leading in their communities.
Since early January, TPS has shared in-depth conversations with this year's seven nominees, detailing how they found their way to the truck dealer business, how they've navigated the industry, their efforts to lead their businesses and more. These conversations are leading up to the announcement of the 2024 ATD Truck Dealer of the Year Award, which will be announced Friday, Feb. 2, 2024, at the ATD Show in Las Vegas by Procede Software CEO Larry Kettler and TPS Editor Lucas Deal.
Our next dealer to be featured is Jim Schroeder, president of Peterbilt Pacific in Surrey, B.C.
How did you get into the truck dealer industry?
The first 20 years of my career was in the IT industry. My wife’s family was in the truck dealer industry and so I watched that industry from the sideline for 18 years before deciding to join the family business and get into the industry.
How have you risen in the industry and your company to reach where you are today?
As stated above, I watched the industry from the sidelines for 18 years before joining the industry. Once I decided to move forward with being in the industry my first task was to learn all aspects of the business. ATD Dealer Academy was instrumental in providing me with this information. Not only did I learn about all aspects of the business, I also cultivated peers in many locations across the country. This was particularly helpful for a newcomer like me in the industry.
Once I completed this training, I took on the leadership of our largest branch for 10 years. This is where I truly learned the business and what allowed my career to move from branch manager to vice president of operations and finally president.
What do you like most about being a truck dealer?
The most enjoyable part of being a truck dealer is the interactions and relationships you make at both a customer and employee level. It is an industry which moves the economy and with that you get to know what is currently happening around you. For example, we get to know what infrastructure is coming due to purchases going on in our vocational side of the business.
Describe your leadership style. How do you pilot your business?
I would classify my leadership style as transformational with some strategic sprinkled in. My main focus is on facilitating collaboration amongst all areas of our business in order to move our vision forward.
What do you believe is the most important skill for a truck dealer? How have you cultivated that skill?
First and foremost, one must be an exceptional communicator. This is difficult when there are many priorities tugging at you daily. It takes perseverance and a strong will to communicate to your staff as well as cultivate your relationships with your customers.
Being a skilled communicator takes time and practice. Take the opportunity to spend time communicating with people in your organization, other organizations, boards or trade groups. Practice, Practice, Practice!
How do you differentiate your business from your competitors?
Peterbilt Pacific prides itself on customer service. Our salespersons sell the first truck to our customers and our parts and service departments sell all the rest. Customers have many options to choose from and pleasing them in our service departments will bring them back.
What is the most difficult part of your job?
The most difficult part of my job is working with people. At times this is a great challenge, however, it is the most enjoyable part of my job when things are going well.
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How does ATD help you run your business?
ATD, specifically the ATD 20 Group has been a huge help to me in my business. Other dealers doing the same thing in the same industry with the same issues are there to mentor, bounce ideas off and get held accountable is immensely helpful!
Why do you believe you were nominated for the ATD Truck Dealer of the Year Award?
I believe I was nominated due to my continued and unwavering commitment to get better! This is something that is a non-negotiable with me and I believe people have seen this and appreciated it. It is a great honor just to be nominated.