IT'S NO ACCIDENT that a truck equipment distributor in Goshen, New York, calls itself a truck center.

Suresky Truck Center earns its name because of the variety of products and services the company offers — including some that are seldom found at most truck equipment shops. For example:

  • New truck sales. Suresky Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep/Hyundai is on Highway 17 linking Goshen with New York City. (The truck equipment operation is away from the highway in the center of town.) Suresky Truck Center is part of the dealership.

    “We are one of a few truck dealers in our area that also sell truck equipment,” says Jeff Musumeci, operations manager.

  • Truck repair. Suresky has five full-time technicians in its retail repair facility.

  • Used truck sales. Approximately 45 vehicles occupy the lot across from the truck equipment shop.

  • Paint and body shop, including computerized paint-matching system and the ability to produce custom graphics.

  • Frame straightening and wheel alignment.

Until recently, the Suresky shop combined truck equipment installation and repair. That changed last year, when the company opened a separate building for truck equipment.

“The idea was to provide our truck equipment operation with its own shop, which would open up our existing building for use as a body shop and engine repair facility. It's our goal to offer full truck service. We are like service stations used to be, but without the gasoline.”

Suresky opened the 50' × 75' shop in April 2003. The building provides the company with five bays and roughly the same amount of floor space that truck equipment occupied previously.

“We aren't just a truck equipment distributor anymore,” Musumeci says. “We had always been a ‘tinkering’ body shop, but with the addition of the frame machine and our new paint booth, we have become a full-service body shop.”

The new paint booth has been a boost to the truck equipment operation.

“We no longer sub out any paint work,” Musumeci says. “Being able to produce the entire job here eliminates unnecessary transportation costs, and it means that we no longer are at the mercy of another shop to deliver a quality job on time.”

The computerized paint system simplifies the process of matching truck cabs to deliver base-coat/clear-coat finishes. And with its new capabilities, Suresky has begun offering custom graphics.

“We have more capabilities and more convenience,” Musumeci says. “Having everything here just makes things a lot easier. For example, it's a lot simpler to handle insurance claims for the collision repairs that we do.”

Spray-on liners

With the opening of the new shop, Suresky is able to offer Rhino Linings spray-on bedliners.

“We had wanted to get into this business for a long time, but we didn't have all the pieces in place,” Musumeci says. “We had to have a facility with enough room to operate, a booth, compressors, additional electrical capacity, and adequate ventilation. All of that has come together, and our spray-on bedliner business is going great.”

Suresky is the exclusive Rhino Linings distributor for Orange County, New York, and Musumeci says there are not a lot of competitors in the area.

Of the five bays in the new shop, one is dedicated to bedliner application.

Other equipment installed in the shop includes:

  • A 16,000-lb-capacity Hunter lift
  • Two bridge cranes
  • Hunter computerized wheel balancer and tire machine
  • Two 10-hp compressors.

The building has Internet access for the alignment machine. Operators go online to get the specifications required to align virtually any vehicle — car or truck — on the road today. Technicians also can obtain torque specifications, along with engine axle specifications from an online service to which Suresky subscribes.

“It's good, too, for lighting schematics,” Musumeci says, “especially for vehicles that have been in service for a few years.”

Parts and accessories

The new shop represents a 25% increase in available floor space. It also enabled the company to utilize its existing space more effectively. One area to benefit was its marketing of parts and accessories.

“We went from stocking a few nuts and bolts to having a fully stocked parts warehouse,” Musumeci says. “We never had product displays before. Our parts sales are now up 200% over what they were before we moved in.”

Hitches and their associated accessories are big sellers at Suresky. So are snowplows. The company represents Western Products and Fisher Engineering. Suresky recently became Orange Count's exclusive Armor Deck distributor.

“We have been trying different marketing ideas,” Musumeci says, “including some advertising designed to increase off-season plow sales. We sold 30 snowplows last May from an ad we ran.”

Other ideas include offering free upgrades to hand-held controls and a buy-now, pay-later program. Musumeci says this interest-free program has been particularly effective.

“It's a deal we worked out with Wells Fargo,” Musumeci says. “The customer has to be credit-worthy, and he has to pay the sales tax up front. Full payment is due in three months. A customer then can buy a plow in November, use it to make money most of the winter, and pay for it in February. It's a great deal for the customer, and it's a great deal for us. We have been encouraging our customers to take advantage of this program.”

The program saves the customer money, and every sale that qualifies is one for which Suresky does not have to pay charges to a credit card company. The incentive for Wells Fargo to offer the program is the possibility that the customer will not pay for the plow at the end of 90 days. If that happens, a 21% interest rate kicks in.

Safety inspection program

Sales are important at Suresky, but so is shop safety. To reduce potential shop hazards, the company hires Kip Prahl & Associates to conduct safety inspections every three months. The inspections include both of the Suresky facilities.

Among areas inspected quarterly:

  • Fire extinguishers
  • Eye-wash machines
  • Ratings of the ladders being used
  • Lifts

Equipment such as fire extinguishers and eye-wash machines are inspected for a variety of factors, including location and whether they have been maintained. Inspectors check the lifts to make sure no one has defeated the safety features.