SERVING as president of a major trade association adds an additional load onto an already busy schedule. Nick Lambevski, is no exception.
The president of Transport Trailer Sales in Milton, Ontario, Lambevski also is wrapping up what has been a successful year as president of the National Trailer Dealers Association—the organization’s first Canadian president.
Lambevski first got involved with NTDA in 2000. At that time, it was a small group of 30-40 independent dealers.
“I found it to be a great organization,” he says. “If you are a small dealer, it is sometimes hard to establish contact with some trailer manufacturers. But when you go to the convention, there are plenty of networking opportunities. The trailer manufacturer who you have been attempting to reach is right there.”
Lambevski was back on the board a few years later. This time the term culminated with a stint as president.
“I learn a lot from other dealers about how to run a dealership,” he says. “One of our goals this year was to encourage dealers to come to the convention and network. You can learn about issues from a lot of different sources, but there is nothing like getting dealer principals and allied members together in one room. The collective knowledge is amazing.”
Lambevski credits Gwen Brown, the association’s executive director, with the growth that NTDA has experienced in recent years.
“A lot of people don’t realize how hard it is to get a great executive director,” he says. “She is the reason our organization has flourished. We had about 200 members when she started. We are up to 760 members currently. And we have grown our convention numbers from around 250. I wouldn’t be surprised if we have 700 at the convention this year.”
Lambevski has been in the trailer business since graduating from college in 1984. He spent the first 10 years at Fruehauf selling trailers. As the legendary trailer manufacturing company entered final years in business, Lambevski decided to start his own business out of his house.
Transport Trailer Sales was formed in 1994 as a used trailer outlet, but Lambevski eventually was able to acquire new lines as well. He moved the company out of the house and into a leased facility. The company continued to grow. In 2002, Lambevski bought the three-acre site and 14,000-sq-ft shop that continues to serve as home for Transport Trailer Sales.
Today the company specializes in specialty trailers. Transport Trailer Sales represents MAC Trailers, Evans Trailers, X-L Specialized, Transcraft, Fontaine, and Talbert. Even Strick, the company’s van trailer supplier, touts its custom approach to the market.
“We are one of the largest MAC dealers in North America,” Lambevski says. “And when MAC began manufacturing tank trailers, we did well with them, too. We sold about $2 million in tanks last year.”
A three-acre site houses new and used trailer inventory. It also serves as a home for the company’s trailer rental and leasing operation.
Transport Trailer Sales also has a growing rental and leasing business, with approximately 200 flatbed trailers in its fleet. One approach has been to buy the trailers of customers and then rent them back.
“Some fleets want to take trailers off the balance sheet,” Lambevski says. “Selling us their trailers and then renting them back from us is a good way for them to generate cash flow.”
Lambevski sees a number of issues affecting his industry.
• Exchange rates. The recent strengthening of the US dollar in relation to the Canadian dollar is “a big deal” for Canadian companies.
• The upcoming greenhouse gas regulations will affect both sides of the border. “The regulators are going to do what they are going to do,” Lambevski says. We just want the results to be fair.”
• Canadian regulations. Lift axles are giving way to steerable axles. Differences in provincial size and weight regulations are impacting the efficiency of long-haul operations.
• Mergers and acquisitions.
“This is a good industry,” Lambevski says. “There is a lot of loyalty. Many of our customers are mom and pop companies. As these customers continue to be bought up, it will give this business a different look, and it will make things tougher for trailer dealers.” ♦