Great Dane Opens Little Rock Branch

March 1, 2000
For the first time in 18 years, Great Dane Trailers has opened a factory branch. The company's new Little Rock operation, which celebrated its grand opening

For the first time in 18 years, Great Dane Trailers has opened a factory branch. The company's new Little Rock operation, which celebrated its grand opening last fall, is housed in a 26,600-sq-ft facility located on a 10-acre site. The structure includes 2,000 square feet of offices, a 10-bay shop, and 9,873 square feet of warehouse space for parts.

"The diversity of the trucking industry here requires us to stock a wide range of parts," says Stan Cunningham, manager of branch parts operations for Great Dane Trailers. "It is a good parts market. Right now we have 2,000 parts numbers in stock, but we will be expanding that to 3,000 soon."

The branch is pursuing the parts business in a big way. Three parts delivery trucks serve south and central Arkansas, running five scheduled routes. The company also has a local delivery truck to bring parts to local customers on an as-needed basis.

Three outside parts salespeople cover the market, backed up by three inside salespeople.

Brake shoes are a popular item for the Little Rock branch. The operation obtains relined brake shoes from Sooner Great Dane in Oklahoma City. Sooner's brake relining operation also serves Great Dane locations in Dallas, Texas; Springdale, Arkansas; and Memphis, Tennessee.

Little Rock Market Great Dane opened the branch for two main reasons. First is the large number of trailers that the company has sold in the area. The second reason is that by opening in Little Rock, Great Dane has the only full-service facility with freeway access between Dallas and Memphis, according Art Ziller, vice-president of branch operations.

The new facility marks the high point in the company's ability to serve the Little Rock market. Great Dane started marketing in the area with a trailer sales lot staffed by a resident salesperson. With that operation proving itself, it was expanded to a facility on Interstate 30 that included a parts department for the first time. The Little Rock operation was made a subbranch of Memphis. After almost 20 years of service in that capacity, it became a full branch in June 1999.

This is the optimal way to provide service for our customer base," Ziller says. "It is a modern facility staffed with experienced people. We are in a good location that gives us great exposure on one of the most heavily traveled truck roads in the country."

An estimated 10,000 trucks pass by the site on Little Rock's north side every 24 hours.

"The new location has given us visibility and accessibility that we have not had before," says Rick Payne, branch manager. "It really has helped us increase our business."

The shop was designed to improve safety and efficiency. The spacious yard gives drivers plenty of maneuvering room, and the 12 ft. x 16 ft. doors provide easy access into the 18-ft bays.

Parts and materials flow to each of the 10 bays via a central service aisle that runs the length of the shop. A loading dock, along with a bridge crane system that serves the shop, also expedites material handling. The crane system can accommodate full-length trailer sides, greatly simplifying the process of making major repairs. Other features built into the shop:

* Tiedowns anchored in the concrete floor throughout the shop enable every central bay in the facility to handle frame-straightening jobs. More than 100 tiedowns have been installed in the floor. * Scaffolding designed and built by Great Dane increases safety when roof jobs are performed. The scaffolding, which telescopes the work platforms against the sides of the trailer, is designed to meet all applicable OSHA regulations. * Layout of the parts department enables the staff to serve either the retail or shop parts counters. Additional Great Dane branches are planned for other cities. Among the locations getting new facilities are Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Fontana, California. The company also is considering opening more than one location in the same city in major markets where one location is not sufficient.

"Our new owners have made the same kind of commitment to Great Dane Trailers Limited Partnership as Great Dane Trailers has made to its customers," Ziller says. "This business requires capital, people, and commitment. Facilities such as this one in Little Rock make us more convenient to our customers and help make it easier for us to serve them. We have the funding now, and we are moving forward with increased investment."