Churneys' Bodyworks Offers Variety of Truck Equipment Services Including Leasing and Rentals

March 1, 1998
CHURNEYS' BODYWORKS Inc recently opened the doors of a new two-acre shop in Cleveland, Ohio. The facility provides more showroom space and better freeway

CHURNEYS' BODYWORKS Inc recently opened the doors of a new two-acre shop in Cleveland, Ohio. The facility provides more showroom space and better freeway visibility and access than the Churneys' previous location several blocks away, says Mike Churney, president.

New truck equipment as well as body and paintwork are the primary operations of Churneys' Bodyworks. Dan Churney, company vice-president, designed the business about five years ago before building the new shop.

Dan designed the shop to make it efficient and provide employees with a comfortable work environment.

The office and showroom areas make up about 3,500 square feet of the 13,500-sq-ft. building.

The shop was designed specifically for the installation of truck equipment and truck repair. The twenty bay shop accommodates three times the trucks the old facility did and also has drive-through doors. "We knew what we needed at this facility because our old building wasn't built for this business," says Mike Churney. "We also wanted more additional showroom space."

The Churneys designed the new shop with a five-ton bridge crane to move bodies and equipment efficiently between bays. "The crane runs the entire length of the shop and is a time saver for mechanics," says Churney.

A 90,000-Btu air make-up system maintains a 708 temperature in the paint booth. The booth can heat paint for quicker drying, allowing more trucks to be refinished daily.

The Churneys chose an infrared heating system for the shop. Positioning of the individual heating units was important when designing the shop layout. Heaters are strategically placed behind and between each bay. The arrangement distributes heat evenly throughout work area.

One Stop Shopping Because Churneys' offers a variety of services, the company owners call it a one-stop truck equipment center.

"I want customers to think of me as their personal transportation manager and rely on our business for all their commercial vehicle needs," says Mike Churney.

In addition to being an equipment distributor and upfitter, Churneys' offers used truck sales, collision repairs, custom modification/fabrication, and truck rental and leasing. Lease trucks often are upfitted with service and dump bodies. Churneys' buys new chassis from dealers at fleet prices and then installs bodies, equipment, and accessories specific to each customer. "New vehicles are built according to customers' needs," says Churney.

The company also provides customers with a rental trucks if needed while their regular truck is in the shop for service. Churneys' rental fleet includes dumps, stakes, and vans to accommodate customers needs.

Mike and Dan Churney handle all of the company's sales duties.

"Smaller companies and some first-time buyers may not have the knowledge to spec a truck themselves, so we put a work-ready package together that we know works for that particular type of industry," says Mike Churney. Offering complete services from financing to fleet graphics makes it easy for the customers so they don't have to deal with more vendors than they need to.

"We want customers to ask questions, so we can help them find the right combination of chassis and equipment," he says. "A full service shop and large stock of equipment keeps customers coming back."

About 50% of Churneys' business comes from equipment distribution and about 40% is generated through truck sales. A small percentage also comes from over-the-counter parts sales and truck rentals.

The showroom at Churneys' houses equipment such as material spreaders and toolboxes. "We offer toolboxes at three different price levels depending on the quality the customer desires," says Dan Churney. The showroom was built with a door large enough to accommodate a light or medium duty truck outfitted with an equipment package that changes according to the season.

Customer Service Churneys' customer base is primarily private businesses and individual contractors, but it occasionally provides services to local municipalities. The company remanufactured fire apparatus for the Warrensville Heights, Concord, and Euclid, Ohio. This process usually involves updating the trucks with the latest in safety standards and equipment including new water tanks, cabinets, and other modifications. The trucks are disassembled, worn parts are replaced and the vehicle is completely refinished. New graphics are then applied prior to delivery.

To better serve its customers, future services offered by Churneys' may include a 24 hour parts and service department," says Mike Churney. Companies can't afford downtime, and faster turnaround would increase business.

Computerized Management Churneys' uses a computer management software system to standardize all of its pricing and accounting needs. Costs are tracked from purchase orders through final billing by computer. Quotes can be retrieved for future use then changed to a repair order and sent to accounts receivable.

"The system has given me more time for other projects and standardized pricing," says Mike Churney.

The software also allows for sales forecasting by listing sales for a specified month in any year on record. This helps the company purchase the proper amount of product for a particular season. Customers' past purchasing records and payment history including credit limits and other vital information can also be accessed.

Daily Marketing The company advertises in trade magazines and purchases some radio time but relies mostly on direct marketing. Direct mailings consist of custom printed brochures for each of the industries the company targets. As many as 15,000 brochures are sent out monthly depending on the season. The mailings are sent out using a database that offers nationwide coverage by city, state, area code, or Standard Identification Code (SIC). The software can also target a desired radius.

"We segment our market by a customer's Standard Identification Code," says Churney. Customers receive monthly mailings including special services or sales for a particular month. Landscape contractors, municipalities, and other weather related industries will sometimes receive an additional insert with snowplow parts and equipment items.

Seasonal newsletters also are mailed to customers to remind them of additional repairs that may be required. Churneys' provides services on school busses that require annual inspections before the beginning of each school year.

"We often repair crossmembers, stairwells and other items that do not pass inspection given by the state highway patrol," says Dan Churney.

The Churneys' also use the Internet to market their products and services internationally.

Customer Satisfaction Churneys' offers an unconditional customer satisfaction warranty in addition to existing manufacturers' warranties. Dan Churney is in charge of quality control in the shop and oversees the mechanics work regularly to maintain quality. Mike and Dan perform personal quality inspections when work is completed on a vehicle. New vehicles are road tested, and all equipment is tested for proper operation before vehicles are turned over to a customer. Every vehicle is given a final walk-through to be sure that everything is ready for customer pick-up. "We check everything down to the fluid levels," says Mike Churney.

The Churneys show customers how to properly operate all the equipment on a vehicle and give them a chance to ask any questions.

Churneys' has been a member of the National Truck Equipment Association since 1986.

"The membership has been very useful to service out-of-state customers," says Mike Churney.