Reading Body's Suknow purchases Crest

READING Body Works Inc owner Irving Suknow has purchased the company's largest distributor, Crest Truck Equipment, and the new company will be called Reading Truck Body Inc.

The two companies, separated by less than 30 miles of fertile territory in southeastern Pennsylvania, have formed a network of distributors in the mid-Atlantic region of the US that will now be known as Reading Equipment & Distribution Inc. It will operate within the same limited territorial boundaries as did Crest Truck Equipment. Both companies will operate collectively under a new name: The Reading Group.

Irving Suknow, chairman of the board of The Reading Group, said the changes “will provide us with more resources and capabilities and make our company stronger.”

He said it expands his company's strength in the industry.

“We look to enhance our operations using the joint resources of both divisions,” he said. “Additionally, our close association with Crest Truck Equipment will provide us with long-term opportunities to even better understand the varied needs of our distributors. We are excited about this new endeavor and the opportunities it will create for us and our distributor network.”

Reading Truck Body, which will operate separately from Reading Equipment and Distribution, will be under the guidance of Jack O'Donnell as chief operating officer. Peter Hempenstall has been promoted to vice-president of sales for Reading Truck Body Inc.

Reading Equipment & Distribution will operate under the guidance of Norm Ziegler Jr as chief operating officer.

Overall guidance and strategic direction will be provided by Dan Perlman, president of The Reading Group.

Reading Body Works Inc first made its entrance into the truck equipment industry in 1955. Suknow purchased Reading Body Works Inc with a vision of manufacturing and promoting a market for service bodies — a market he felt was virtually untapped.

Reading developed the slogan “Don't Pile It — File It” to market the concept of an organized method of storing tools and equipment.

Crest Truck Equipment Co Inc blossomed into one of the premier truck equipment installation facilities on the East Coast after being founded in 1972 by Ziegler and his father, Norm Ziegler Sr.

It was created as a sales and installation center for Reading Body Works, Western snowplows, dump bodies, and other light- and medium-duty equipment.

Crest Truck Equipment grew into a full truck equipment distribution and installation center with four locations, 100,000 sq ft of total production space, and 65 state-of-the-art work bays, specializing in service bodies, dump bodies, snowplows, mobile hydraulic equipment, cranes, and truck accessories.

Ziegler Sr had roots in truck equipment, first at Allegheny Body Co in Philadelphia and then at Reading Body Works. Ziegler Jr got his start at Reading Body, working in the sales and marketing department. When his father decided in 1970 to leave and start a company, Norm went along with him.

For the first 18 months, it was Ziegler & Ziegler, operating out of the garage of his parents' home. His mother, Irene, was the receptionist — based in the unglamorous confines of the basement.

Norm Jr would come back from a day of sales work and help his father do nighttime installations. They had one mechanic and one painter. They also had a deposit on a piece of property for their planned expansion, but that fell through because of unknown zoning restrictions that clashed with their intended operation.

One Sunday, Norm Sr and Irene were driving south of Reading through the pristine southeastern Pennsylvania landscape when they noticed a large concrete slab that was being used by a contractor to fabricate apartment walls. He'd roll them across to the loading dock, put them on a flatbed, and ship them out.

Norm Sr contacted the contractor and learned that he was finished with the slab. And in 1972, that 20-acre spread became the new home for Ziegler & Ziegler, which immediately was renamed Crest Truck Equipment. When Norm Sr passed away in 1984, Norm purchased it from his estate and has been running it ever since.

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