ONLINE SPECIAL: Ontario’s shunt truck shake-up

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KITCHENER, Ont. — The shunt truck market in Ontario is shaping up to look very different in 2012, after Glasvan Great Dane abandoned its longtime role as a Capacity dealer in favour of Autocar.

Shortly thereafter, Altruck International inked a deal with Capacity of Texas to be its Ontario distributor via its eight locations. Eventually operating as a new division of Altruck International, Capacity of Ontario is being spearheaded by dealer principal Jeff Kirby, with Michael Kirby appointed vice-president of sales and operations. Altruck is still in the early stages of taking on the brand as its Ontario dealer, and for the immediate future the new division will share facilities and infrastructure with parent company Altruck International, Jeff Kirby said in an interview with

The recent changes have set the stage for an ultra-competitive shunt truck market in Ontario. Capacity of Texas already enjoys a healthy presence in the province, which many have credited to the strong sales and support provided by Glasvan. Glasvan now will no doubt be aiming to chip away at the market share it has helped build over the years, although George Cobham Jr., vice-president of sales and marketing, downplayed any significant shift in the shunt truck landscape.

“As far as we’re concerned, the shunt truck landscape has not changed in Canada,” he told “Glasvan remains the largest lessor of shunt tractors with north of 150 units in our lease and rental fleet. We also have what I believe to be the largest dedicated shunt tractor shop in the country located here in Mississauga, with mechanics spending more than 95% of their time working only on shunt tractors. Whether it be a Kalmar (Ottawa), Tico, Capacity or Autocar, we have the ability to support them and in my opinion, we do this better than anyone.”

Altruck’s Kirby indicated in an interview that success in the shunt truck market will be earned by whichever supplier is able to offer the most options and provide the best support. Altruck is no stranger to shunt trucks, previously serving as a lessor of both Capacity and Ottawa brands and bringing to the table more than 35 years of truck sales and leasing.

“We can offer virtually every (financing/leasing) option the customers might want and still look after all his needs,” Kirby said. “It’s all about servicing the customers and enhancing their experience.”

For Altruck, this means providing full service right at the customer’s own location.

“We have fully equipped mobile maintenance units that can go right into a customer’s yard, extract oil right at the vehicle into a container on the truck and put new oil in, as well as coolant, lubes and that sort of thing,” he explained. “We intend to service the customers as much as we can on-site at their convenience.”

Kirby said Altruck’s familiarity with both Cummins and International MaxxForce engines has given its technicians a running start, and a trip to Capacity’s Texas plant is already planned. The company is anticipating taking delivery of stock near the end of January or early February and will ramp up its operations through 2012.

The potential winners in all of this seem to be the customers. In Autocar, Glasvan brings to the market a relatively unknown player, one Cobham says offers “a new list of features and options that will greatly benefit our customers from standpoints of safety and comfort with improved reliability/durability with what appears to be a greatly superior pipeline for aftermarket parts support.”

Yet Capacity purists will still have machines available to them through a highly motivated new dealer network that acknowledges its success hinges on its breadth of service offerings and ability to support its customers. Meanwhile, Ottawa remains a force in the market and Tico is beginning to get noticed and earning a following of its own. Altruck’s Kirby said the company will soon be launching a new Web site dedicated to its yard tractor business and will be ramping up the business in the coming months.

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  • Glasvan was one of Capacity’s largest dealers for many years. To lose them to Autotruck is a big blackeye for Capacity. The advantage that the new dealer will have is that the size of the population of Capacity’s in that market which will allow them to immediately sell many replacement parts. The disadvantage will be selling new product and having poor support from the factory.

    There is a reason that a large Capacity dealer like Glasvan switched to the competition and I would be willing to bet that it is because of Capacity’s inherent quality problems and inability to support the product.

    I am sure Altruck has the capability to sell and support the product but they will not have the expertise in this type of equipment and they will soon tire of working with Capacity.

  • Just to rest your doubts, Altruck currently has a large fleet of Full Service lease shunt/yard tractors, and we have been servicing and repairing them over 10 years now. Along with that, we have the savy of trained engine techs, which is really where our expertise really shines.I am unclear of any inherent issues, and have not seen any from the products we currently own ourselves. Capacity of Texas is very determined to stand behind their product, and like any diligent OEM, is very concerned with their customers and product quality. I am aware of the true reason that Glasvan switched product lines, and it was never a product quality issue. We Altruck and Capacity, look forward to serving and growing this great product line up for many years to come. Regards.

  • It must be a trend with former Capacity dealers leaving Capacity and joining Autocar in terminal tractors or shunt trucks. Besides Glasvan, Stoops in IN and OH, Barloworld in the SE US, Jim Hawk Trailer in the Midwest, and Adobe in Houston, all former top Capacity dealers, are all now partnersed with Autocar as well. Must be a good reason or two that all these major dealers would cancel and move over to Autocar. Autocar is known for tough trucks, and aggressive service, and their Xspotter terminal tractor has a great cab, I’m seeing more and more around the market.