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Sterling’s model dealership

LONDON, Ont. - As plant manager, Terry Bruni played a key role in building the first Sterling trucks to roll of the assembly line in St. Thomas, Ont.Now he's selling them.Freightliner LLC is backing B...

LONDON, Ont. – As plant manager, Terry Bruni played a key role in building the first Sterling trucks to roll of the assembly line in St. Thomas, Ont.

Now he’s selling them.

Freightliner LLC is backing Bruni with a $5.5-million dealership that he will eventually call his own. And its grand opening on June 15 included a who’s who of Sterling Trucks and Freightliner LLC executives from across North America.

It was quickly apparent that the company sees something special in the opening of this facility.

The decision to place Bruni in charge of the dealership came when another supplier offered him a job as company president, says Freightliner president Jim Hebe.

“We’d already made a decision to build this (company store),” he says. But when Bruni started talking about working at his father’s grocery store as a child, Hebe had an idea. “I said, ‘Terry, you’re an entrepreneur. You don’t want to be in a corporate environment.'”

The offer was nothing less than a chance for Bruni to own a dealership for no money down.

Hebe was given a similar chance with a Kenworth dealership in Tampa, Fla. in 1978. “It worked well for me,” he says. And although several Freightliner dealers have been given the chance, Bruni’s operation is the first Sterling model of its kind.

The site on seven acres at the intersection of Hwy. 401 and Wellington Road will also serve as a model for dealerships in other mid-size markets such as London.

“What you see here today is what we intend Sterling dealerships to be throughout North America,” he told the crowd.

The 38,000-square-foot building includes 23,000 square feet for the service area, 8,700 square feet for retail parts and warehousing and 6,300 square feet of office space. The service area itself includes eight drive-through service bays, a rapid-lube pit, a full alignment rack and specialized equipment such as a flywheel turner for re-machining engine flywheels. The driver’s lounge, accessed with a card given to each customer, will include a big-screen TV, shower facilities, laundry facilities and computer workstations.

“This is the future of Sterling and we’re up for this challenge,” Bruni says.

The pressures put on truckers are also putting new pressures on dealerships, Bruni adds, referring to such things as rising fuel prices. “There’s an urgency. They’ve become intolerant to downtime because they have nothing to spare.”

Now it’s up to his team to help meet their needs. n

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