Bob Frise was looking to fill a need in his community of LaCrosse, Wisc., when he opened River States Truck and Trailer in 1972.
In the 44 years since, that small six-bay repair facility in downtown La Crosse has grown into one of the premier truck and trailer dealers in western Wisconsin. The company, which is still family owned and operated, remains a driving force in its local community and a needed resource for transit drivers.
Frise’s son-in-law, Joe Laux, is now principal dealer of the company’s five locations. Laux is committed to the same customer-centered service that has made Rivers States the thriving business that it is.
River States works closely with customers to make sure they understand the product and are using it to the fullest potential. With all the advances in technology and new products coming on the market, they feel it is necessary to make sure the customer fully understands the capabilities of their product, so its benefits do not go unused and wasted. The sales department, as well as service and parts departments, are all involved in helping educate customers on the benefits of the products and services offered.
Not only does River States educate their customers, the company maintains its standards of excellence by making sure its employees have proper training to do their jobs efficiently, effectively, and to the best of their ability. Safety training has always been important to River States. Every employee from general manager, diesel tech, to receptionist undergoes safety training at least twice per year.
As a staple of the La Crosse community, River States and Laux look to play an active role in helping their community. Laux and his wife, Lynn, recently established a marketing scholarship at their alma mater, University of Wisconsin—La Crosse. The couple also contributes annually to the UWL Athletics Department, UWL College of Business, L Club/UWL Foundation, and the construction of the new UWL Stadium and campus buildings.
They also recently donated a suite during a Green Bay Packers game to the Hope Lives Foundation to be auctioned off to raise money for their foundation, which supports local families whose children have been diagnosed with cancer.
“While the size of the company may have changed, the foundation remains the same – River States is all about people,” Laux says.
River States also provides support for other organizations in the area including the Boys & Girls Club, Aimee Mathy Center, Red Cross, WAFER food bank, Coulee Region RSVP, Onalaska Park and Rec, Onalaska Suns Basketball Club, Boy Scout Chapter of La Crosse, Girl Scout Chapter of La Crosse, Toys for Tots, La Crosse Humane Society, New Horizons Women’s shelter and the YMCA Strong Kids Campaign. River States also supports a program called First Tee Golf Sponsorship in St. Croix Valley, a program that introduces golf to elementary age students. The program focuses on golf development, character education and promotes healthy active lifestyles.
River States Truck and Trailer is one of five Successful Dealer Award finalists invited to the Great American Trucking Show in Dallas in late August.
The other finalists will be profiled in separate articles in the coming weeks.