THE year started with a scary rooftop fall that resulted in a broken left hip, surgery to insert metal rods, and a follow-up plan of intense therapy.
It ends with one of the industry's prestigious awards.
Scott Lamb has experienced the entire spectrum of pain and pleasure in 2001.
Lamb, president of Atlantic Great Dane Inc in South Portland, Maine, has been named National Trailer Dealer of the Year by CitiCapital and the National Trailer Dealers Association (NTDA).
It comes exactly one year after Lamb was a finalist in the debut year of the award, which was created in May 2000 to recognize the nation's outstanding heavy-duty trailer dealers and pick one whose leadership, professionalism, and integrity has most enhanced his company, industry, and community. The other finalists chosen by an independent panel of industry judges were Thomas R Leuner, president of Northeast Great Dane in Bridgewater, New Jersey, and Jeff Smith, president of Utility Tri-State Inc, in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
“I am both pleased and humbled to be selected as Dealer of the Year,” Lamb said. “I must also thank Great Dane Trailers and (vice president) Dan Hartley for nominating me for this award. I am particularly grateful to the employees of Atlantic Great Dane who contribute so much to the success of our company. They certainly share in the award. My wife and family have given me so much support over the years and made personal sacrifices. And we are nothing without the support of our customers, who have been very loyal.”
A Credit to His Staff
Lamb's injury kept him out of the office for months. Even now, he is working only a few hours a day. He's available by cell phone, but chances are, his staff will be reaching him at his physical therapist's office. He goes there for three hours every afternoon.
So to Lamb, this award was a testament to his staff. He turned the company over to his department heads in his absence and watched with admiration as they ran it with skill.
“I guess that's every company president's dream: You're not there and everything still runs great,” he said. “Each department head just made sure everything was a smooth as a whistle. I feel this award is a tribute to our employees.”
Lamb was to have received the award September 28 at the NTDA Convention, but it was cancelled due to the terrorist attacks.
“It is a privilege to recognize the nation's trailer dealers with this prestigious award,” said Ann Marie Smith, the NTDA's executive director. “Through the efforts of a blue-ribbon industry panel and CitiCapital, we have a fine program in place that distinguishes the industry's top performers.”
“Trailers are an essential part of the transportation industry, and trailer dealers are some of the unsung heroes behind the scenes, helping to make this country's transportation system the world's finest,” said Doug Spencer, executive vice president of CitiCapital Transportation Finance. “We are honored to be co-sponsors of this award with NTDA.”
Said last year's winner, Stan Zeamer of Utility/Keystone Trailer Sales Inc in Manheim, Pennsylvania, “The award was very significant, as it paid value to our employees and acknowledged that their efforts counted. It also raised the bar of expectations for continuous improvement.”
Nominees were evaluated on the basis of three criteria: dealership contribution and effectiveness, industry contribution, and community involvement. This year's independent panel of industry judges included: Bruce Sauer, Trailer/Body Builders Magazine; Richard Bowling, Truck Trailer Manufacturers Association; David Kolman, Newport Publications; Denise Rondini, Successful Dealer Magazine; and Alan Sims, International Trucking Show.
Highest Market Share in Great Dane
For the past two years, Atlantic Great Dane has had a 67.2% market share in its territory — the highest in Great Dane, and perhaps the highest in the industry. Under Lamb's leadership over the past 10 years, sales have increased by 230%, and the company has won every award offered by Great Dane Trailers, including Dealer of the Year, The President's Award, and the Parts and Service Award.
Despite the economic downturn, Atlantic Great Dane will have no inventory write down and no layoffs in 2001, and inventory costs for trailers and parts will be “very low,” in Lamb's estimation. He also says the total combined sales for the service, parts and sales departments through the end of this year are 12% ahead of budget, and all departments are making a profit.
Atlantic Great Dane, founded in 1988, has maintained a dominant foothold, with a growth chart that shows a steady climb from $9 million in sales in 1992 to $34.3 million in 2000.
Lamb says long-term planning has been the key to maintaining the company's health. In the second half of 2000, Atlantic Great Dane embarked on an ambitious program to reduce the trailer and parts inventories.
“We made sure we weren't carrying any old inventory in trailers from 2000 into 2001,” he says. “The new stock inventory is all in 2002s. Same thing in parts inventory — making sure your shelves are clear of anything that has age on it, that you're only stocking parts you actually need. We're going to make budget in each department. All of our forecasting has been successful for 2001.”