Soft skills go a long way toward hard-earned business success at Crossroads Truck Equipment.
The Midwestern distributor, which is a finalist for the Trucks, Parts, Service Distributor of the Year Award for the second consecutive year in 2023, isn’t a business that defines itself by its sales prowess. Crossroads has grown substantially since it was opened as a repair shop in the late 1970s, and with more than 70 employees manning locations across two states, it’s clear the company knows how to earn and win business.
But spend any time with the team at Crossroads and it also becomes clear this is a community business. A company wholly committed to the region it supports. Where customers aren’t just clients but also friends, neighbors and relatives.
As Business Development Manager Brad Leonard puts it, when a Crossroads Truck Equipment associate encounters a customer, their primary focus is communication, not commerce.
“One thing we’re proud of is how well our people carry on conversation with customers, and how easy we make it for them to talk to us,” he says. “That kind of thing matters.
“When we go into a customer’s place, we don’t walk in that door to sell them something. We go in to communicate [with them]. See how we can help them with whatever it is they need.”
“We have customers where we served Grandpa and Dad and now we’re on to that third generation. We treat them like family because we’ve become part of the family,” adds Allen McGowan, branch manager at the company’s Vincennes, Ind., location. “People come to us because they know we’ll give them great service. We’ll go the extra mile. And they know that because we’ve done it for them for years.”
COO Candy Daume says that’s been the company M.O. for as long as she can remember and credits founder and owner Cletus Bierman for continuing to drive it forward.
“Our owners have always been very involved in our communities,” she says. “Churches, fundraisers for schools, fire department events, Relay for Life, county fairs. We’ve always supported what’s happening in our community.”
And that consistent civic involvement, coupled with clever marketing, has helped make Crossroads as household name across its marketplace. Director of Corporate Services Brian Toops references a long-running radio campaign featuring Bierman that has played on stations around the company’s Effingham, Ill., headquarters.
“He’s become a folk legend around town,” Toops says. “Everyone has been hearing him on the radio every eight minutes for years.”
Crossroads backs up that brand recognition with consultative selling and product expertise. With a large agriculture and vocational customer base, Crossroads has a lot of customers who do business with their trucks but aren’t truckers. Those customers rely on Crossroads to keep that equipment moving — and remember when the company does just that.
“In this town, reputation will take you farther than any advertisement can come close to,” says Toops. “Our owner made his reputation as a man of the community and someone who supported the community and we try to continue that.”
“I remember once I went out with Clete [Bierman] to talk with a customer,” says Leonard. “[The customer] had been going through some tough times, and he asked Clete for some time catching up on his bills. Clete knew the customer and said yes. [Clete] took the time to go out and see that customer, and took on a risk on him, so he could keep working and keep his business.”
And the team at Crossroads has dozens of similar stories.
“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been invited to weddings by our customers,” says Jacob Cowger, parts specialist. “It’s days like that that make everything we do worth it.”
Daume says Crossroads also has been busy strengthening its internal retention programs to ensure its team of experts remain informed and engaged for years to come.
A second consecutive DOTY nomination shows “people are noticing us and that we’re doing the right things,” she says.
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.