Cobalt celebrates an element of time

Jan. 1, 2003
COBALT Truck Equipment celebrated its first anniversary in an uncharacteristic Washington State way with a shrimp boil. The owners of this Spokane-based

COBALT Truck Equipment celebrated its first anniversary in an uncharacteristic Washington State way — with a shrimp boil. The owners of this Spokane-based company wanted their customers and the equipment companies they represent to remember the occasion.

“We've had a great year,” says Dan Duncan, principal and general manager of Cobalt. “This year wouldn't have been possible without the support of our customers and the support of the equipment manufacturers that we represent.”

Cobalt Truck Equipment already has a successful history in the Spokane area. “We purchased the assets of Critzer Equipment,” says Duncan. “The Critzer organization was very well respected in eastern Washington and the Idaho panhandle areas for many years. We picked up the ball and have carried it to a new level, while re-establishing the relationships that the Critzer family had developed.”

Nevertheless, Duncan has brought his own brand of equipment distributor skills to the company. “I was in the heavy equipment business until seven years ago,” says Duncan. “At that time I became involved with a group that was interested in owning truck equipment distributorships. That group purchased a struggling equipment company and started Idaho Truck Specialties, in Meridian, Idaho.”

In the first five years, Duncan and his group turned the company into a very well respected organization in the Boise area and throughout the Northwest. From there, Idaho Truck Specialties has been very aggressive in looking for new opportunities to expand.

“When the possibility of acquiring the Critzer assets appeared, we felt that it was a perfect opportunity, because we were already doing a large volume of business in Washington,” says Duncan.

Duncan says that his heavy equipment background brings a new perspective to the truck equipment distribution business. “My experience in the heavy equipment industry brings some new avenues to the distributorship that allows us to service our customers in a more complete fashion. We have implemented some new ideas that are outside what a conventional truck equipment distributorship might consider.”

Sales manager Rich Johnson explains that one of the ways in which Cobalt brings something new to the Spokane area is its ability to provide ‘built up’ work-ready service trucks that can be put into a customer's fleet immediately.

“We have relationships established with many of the truck and equipment dealers in the area, building up our finished product on their chassis. Then both our sales team and the truck dealer actively market that vehicle,” says Johnson. “We also refurbish used equipment. There is a strong market in our area for refurbished equipment, and we are very experienced at doing that work. From a sales manager's position, that's something different from many equipment distributorships. We try to always have a good inventory of used equipment on hand, and we sell many completed units from that activity.”

Getting the two activities coordinated in the shop isn't a problem at Cobalt.

“We emphasize installing new truck equipment,” says Mike Hurlbutt, service manager for Cobalt. “However, with our shop, it's possible to accommodate both types of work. Because of the refurbishing activities, we keep all of our service technicians fully applied to ongoing work. That's a great luxury to have as a service manager.”

Cobalt also differs from many distributors in its approach to selling parts, says parts manager Brian Newcomb. “We've gotten away from the wholesale accessory side of the business. We are supplying parts for everything we sell and install. In addition, we have a large showroom stocked with the latest in aftermarket accessories and truck parts that can be purchased by anyone looking for a great deal. Plus we are always looking for new items to distribute.”

Duncan says that Cobalt is looking forward to serving Washington, Idaho, Montana, and even Hawaii markets for some time to come. Just like the shining, steel-gray ferromagnetic element, it appears that this Cobalt will be around for a long time.

About the Author

John Nahas