Responding quickly to customer requests is an essential skill for a parts distributor. But few distributors elicit — and request — more customer feedback than Tidewater Fleet Supply (TFS)/TNT Parts.
The company has been that way for decades. Founded as a battery distributor 70 years ago, TFS/TNT Parts has experienced several transformations in its history as customer demands and industry advancements changed what is expected from an aftermarket distribution operation. Through each evolution, the company has grown, but it’s never lost sight of its founding principle to be a best-in-class partner to customers.
That’s why today when customers reach out, President Dale Herold jokes, “Yes is the answer. What’s the question?”
It’s also why this year the company has now been named a finalist for the Trucks, Parts, Service Distributor of the Year Award for the fourth time (2004, 2011, 2022).
With 16 locations from Virginia to Florida and everywhere in between, TFS/TNT Parts serves customers from all corners of the trucking industry. One of the company’s longest and most unique services is its embedded inventory management operations, which it provides at multiple cities in Virginia, but the company also supports vocational operators, small and large fleets, service providers, waste and refuse haulers and more.
Across its network, Herold says TFS/TNT Parts prides itself on its experience, knowledge of the trucking industry and an unparalleled internal culture of leadership and stewardship to out-serve competitors and sustain long, healthy partnerships with customers.
“We believe if we can make our people feel valued and show them their importance, they will be more willing to contribute and support our customers,” Herold says. “That gives us a competitive advantage in the market.”
TFS/TNT Parts’ internal culture is definitely an asset. Herold believes his noble goal is to learn, grow and develop leaders, and that commitment to leadership cascades down throughout the business. In addition to the company’s unparalleled three-day on-site leadership course, taught by Herold and his wife, TFS/TNT Parts supports learning initiatives for associates in all sectors of the business and has a robust internal career path program. Many leaders within the business have decades of experience in the company and have risen into their roles over time. And leaders who are newer to the operation say the company’s culture helped draw them into the business.
“I remember talking to Dale about the leadership journey he was taking his team on and I remember thinking that was a team I could learn and benefit from and grown from,” says CFO John Gordy. Since joining the business, he says, “I haven’t been disappointed.”
Business Development Manager Nathan Powell agrees, stating Herold’s leadership course is a club every associate wants to join. “People want to go and learn, ask questions,” he says. “It creates a curiosity about leadership and changes the people’s philosophy. For a lot of us, what we do is more than just a job; we are truly interested in becoming better people and helping others do the same.”
That culture of service is evident by TFS/TNT Parts’ reputation with customers and in the aftermarket as well. TFS/TNT Parts supports its conventional sales practices with 24/7 online ordering, offers twice a day free delivery to many customers and provides a variety of maintenance services to reduce customer downtime, says Mid-Atlantic Operations Manager Mike Smith.
Additionally, the company has experienced incredible business growth in recent years and added two warehouses to its network to support more business. Coupled with an acquisition in Georgia last year, Herold says the company’s strategy of organic and inorganic growth is working to build its brand as one of the aftermarket’s preeminent distribution operations.
“We are becoming a sought after consolidator in this part of the country,” he says. “For distributors looking to exit — those who don’t have a succession plan, or others — we are becoming top of mind. We are growing and winning in the marketplace and other businesses are seeing that.”
The 2023 Distributor of the Year program is sponsored by Commercial Vehicle Solutions Network (CVSN), Cummins-Meritor, High Bar Brands, Interstate Billing Service and Karmak. The Distributor of the Year Award will presented in January at Heavy Duty Aftermarket Week (HDAW). For more on our 2023 award finalists, check back in the coming days or go to our program website.