2018 | MBE Input Committee.
A Greater New England Minority Supplier Development Council Success Story
STRIVE, SURVIVE, AND THRIVE.
That’s the short version of Minuteman Trucks, Inc.’s history. The longer version follows, and proves that tenacity truly takes the day.
Contributed by Inside Out Communications, Inc., a full-service, minority woman-owned advertising and PR firm, and member of the Greater New England Minority Supplier Development Council’s MBE Input Committee.
How it started.
In 1989, the Witcher brothers, Richard and William, were among hundreds of applicants to the Ford Motor Company Dealer Development Program. It was a grueling process, designed to first, cull out the best contestants from a pool of under-capitalized, minority-origin candidates; then, help them get started and give them an opportunity to own and run a stand-alone dealership.
The Witchers made a $100,000 escrow deposit with Ford Motor Company to demonstrate intent to purchase shares of the business and in 1991, Minuteman Ford Trucks Sales, Inc. (MFTS) was born. It had 35 employees and yearly sales of 16 million. So far, striving was worthwhile.
Shortly afterwards, a severe recession hit the area and the housing bubble exploded, which meant that for a while, selling trucks became very difficult. Why? Little is manufactured or grown around the Boston area, so without housing construction, there’s not much need for trucking. Amazingly enough, Minuteman Ford Trucks survived – but in early 1997, Ford decided to sell its heavy truck business to Freightliner and to exit the Truck Dealer Development Program. Minuteman Ford Truck Sales, Inc., was only six years old, and the Witcher brothers had limited equity.
Time to take a bigger risk. The Witchers arranged financing to purchase the remaining shares of MFTS, changed the name of the company to Minuteman Trucks, Inc., and got ready to start selling Sterling trucks, under the Freightliner brand. There was a problem though – it took the dealership eight months to get inventory. Imagine facing eroding customer confidence, battling uncertainty, waiting for the other manufacturer’s shoe to drop. And still surviving.
Next, balancing the ups and downs of the market.
A couple of strategies were called into play – one was diversification, the other one, joining The Greater New England Minority Supplier Development Council, (GNEMSDC).
Moving to the first-responder vehicle business proved smart; they initially became a Pierce and Med Tec dealer of emergency vehicles and later on also picked up Road Rescue. Another timely decision was becoming a certified minority business enterprise with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Supplier Diversity and beginning a relationship with The Greater New England Minority Supplier Development Council, a chapter of the National Minority Supplier Development Council.
In both cases, getting into the rescue market and joining GNEMSDC, William and Richard Witcher’s decision was followed by top-to-bottom implementation. For example, they had learned that buyers in the first response, fire and rescue segments prefer to work with people from their own environment. The brothers partnered with a well-known veteran of that market and they put him in charge of that side of the business. Same idea with GNEMSDC; it was not just joining, but participating, networking and taking full advantage of the conditions created by GNEMSDC for their certified minority businesses and corporate members. The following are some examples of Minuteman Trucks, Inc.’s performance as a Minority Business Enterprise:
• NSTAR (now EVERSOURCE) nominated Minuteman Trucks for Minority Business Enterprise Supplier of the year to GNEMSDC in July of 2011.
• In 2011 and 2012 Minuteman received the Defense Logistics Agency Land and Maritime Recognition for Excellence Bronze Award.
• National Grid nominated Minuteman Trucks for Minority Business Enterprise Supplier of the year to GNEMSDC in 2014.
• In 2017, GNEMSDC selected Minuteman Trucks for the MBE Shining Star Award.
It’s about access.
How does membership in GNEMSDC benefit Minuteman Trucks, Inc.? GNEMSDC allows minority owned companies the opportunity to connect face-to-face with buyers from large corporations, city, state and federal government agencies; those are people with whom smaller companies would normally not have a chance to meet, let alone build a relationship. GNEMSDC also holds educational conferences and networking events through the year as a way to influence and educate corporations, government agencies and minority owned business to do business with one another.
The thriving company is New England’s #1 Ford and International Commercial Truck Dealer. Besides selling new Ford and International trucks, Pierce and Road Rescue Emergency Vehicles, they are also in the full-service truck Leasing and Rental business. Their parts operation is highly automated but also very user-friendly; they service light, medium and heavy-duty trucks, and have a state-of-the-art body shop and paint-booths.
When it comes to running the business, the brothers have found a good way to utilize their unique talents and personality. William rolls up his sleeves and personally stands behind the caliber of service and parts support that gives their company a sharp edge. His philosophy is that people first learn that they can trust you in small things, such as getting their parts faster than anyone else can deliver, and then they will trust you with bigger things and will come to Minuteman Trucks to purchase their entire fleet. He’s tireless at improving and refining processes and takes clear pride in a seamless, efficient operation and impeccable facilities.
Richard, on the other hand, focuses on truck sales, leasing and rental of vehicles, but most importantly, he’s Minuteman Trucks’ public face. He has held numerous leadership positions in the most prestigious industry associations, including N.A.D.A. (National Automobile Dealers Association) and A.T.D. (American Truck Dealers) and is a committed contributing participant at industry events, where his reputation and his contacts solidify the company’s standing.
Yes, tenacity truly takes the day. It’s a powerful leadership quality. It cannot be faked. It’s motivating. And it’s homegrown.
Minuteman Trucks, Inc., is New England’s #1 Ford and International Commercial Trucks and Pierce Emergency Vehicles Dealer and a complete medium and heavy-duty truck support center. Their mission includes being the best, most progressive dealer and to educate and inspire their customers with helpful, friendly, knowledgeable and professional staff. Please find them online at https://www.facebook.com/minutemantrucks/ and on facebook at https://www.facebook.com/minutemantrucks/.
Inside Out Communications is an independent, woman-owned agency that handles branding, advertising, public relations and sales support efforts for regional and overseas accounts. Their client range includes manufacturing, health, consumer, high-tech and non-profit. They can be found online at http://www.iocomm.com or on facebook at https://www.facebook.com/insideoutcommunications/.