Before there were computers to keep track of all available parts, a good memory was a vital business tool. Bob Nuss started his career in the late 60’s running a parts counter for his father, Charley, at Mack of Rockford, Ill. Bob Nuss had just graduated from St. Cloud with a business degree.
“There were no computers then and we had to memorize everything,” Nuss said. “Now, with computers, the operation moves much faster.”
Nuss advanced as the manager of a Mack Truck dealership in the early ’70’s, in Rochester, Minn., and took the leap to purchase the business, which was to become the first of several businesses he would purchase in the years to come. Nuss Truck Group Inc. was established in 1979, formerly known as Mack Trucks of Rochester Inc.
As he purchased each business, Nuss renamed them after the area in which they are located. These stores include: Mankato Mack Sales purchased in 1983, Eau Claire Mack Sales purchased in 1984, Lake Superior Mack Sales, in Duluth in 1991, Central Minnesota Mack Sales, located in Sauk Rapids in 1997, and Twin Cities Mack and Volvo Trucks in 2001.
Though the businesses were started as truck dealerships, an opportunity arose to purchase the assets of Sweeney Bros. Tractor. That purchase expanded Nuss’ business into the construction business beyond its well known Mack Truck offerings. Under its new name, Nuss Truck & Equipment, the corporation now represents Volvo Construction Equipment, Bomag Compaction Equipment, and Liebherr Construction Equipment at all of its Minnesota locations.
So, after almost 30 years of operating under different names, all of the Nuss locations have been branded “Nuss Truck & Equipment.”
Although the names like Twin Cities Mack and Volvo, Central Minnesota Mack, and Eau Claire Mack and Volvo have changed, the important thing is its service and commitment to its customers has not. Nuss is still dedicated to customer service, and its singular focus is to provide complete customer satisfaction.
“By rebranding ourselves truck and equipment, it shows that all our locations are interrelated no matter where they are located,” Nuss said. “One of the most important elements of making the decision to go into the equipment business is that we were doing business with a lot of people working with construction equipment, so this was a natural evolution. Last month alone we sold a very high volume of snow plow trucks to municipalities that also are construction equipment buyers.”
Having always been one of the most extensive new truck dealerships in Minnesota and western Wisconsin, featuring new Mack, Volvo, Isuzu, GMC, and UD trucks, Nuss Truck & Equipment has been nominated twice during the last 10 years as an American Truck Dealer of the Year, and in 1997 Nuss Truck & Equipment was named the U.S. Mack Dealer of the Year.
Many key employees have contributed to the company’s success. Bob Nuss’ sons, Brad and Greg, have worked with the operation for many years. Greg, 39, oversees sales and fixed operations and lives in St. Paul, Minn. Brad, 34, lives in Rochester, Minn., and oversees the administration side of business. “If you are going to grow the business, you have to have a long-term game plan,” Bob Nuss said. “We surrounded ourselves with 260-plus people who see the focus of where we are going. We have a long list of team members who have been with us for over 20 years and many in the industry for over 25 years.”
Nuss explains that the purchase of Sweeney Brothers also was made because AB Volvo of Sweden owns Mack Trucks, Volvo Trucks and Volvo Construction Equipment. All of which have similar engines and powertrains, making servicing easier for the customer.
As a result of this acquisition, Nuss added the Burnsville location to its operations, which becomes a supporting location for both truck and construction equipment. The Burnsville location parts and service operations is integrated with the Roseville store. Both locations function as one “virtual store” where parts and service calls flow to the nearest metro location, and balance customer needs between the two stores, Nuss explained.
Nuss Truck & Equipment utilizes delivery trucks between locations to move bulk and emergency parts based on customer needs. At the end of the day, minimizing customer downtime is the most important part of everyone’s job at Nuss Truck & Equipment.
As one of the largest Mack and Volvo dealers in the United States, Nuss has a multi-million dollar inventory of original manufacture and vendor parts that are located online through the company’s Web site, www.nussgrp.com. With the search engine’s wildcard feature, parts can be found even if only three or four of the 20-digit part number are known.
“The wildcard feature will sequence through our parts list and find the part you are looking for and tell you if it is in stock and at which location,” Nuss said.
Nuss’ fleet of field service trucks gives further capability to bring service directly to the customer. More new service trucks were recently added that are a combination lube and onsite service vehicle to better provide the highest quality of work.
“In addition to providing field services to our construction equipment customers, we provide similar mobile service capabilities for our truck customers.” Nuss said. “All of our field service trucks are fully equipped with the latest technology and tooling, and each has advanced dispatching systems that allow central dispatchers to send/receive electronic communications to each of our field service technicians.”
Also, more than 70 employees carry Blackberry devices.
“We have been using them for as long as they have been available,” Nuss said. “All of our customer support managers carry them.”
The Blackberry devices aid in searches for parts and to provide price quotes on equipment. Using this technology allows any one of our salesmen, customer support managers, parts managers, service managers, or technicians to communicate seamlessly with customers or with each other regardless of their location.
With its new diversity, Nuss Truck & Equipment is a larger part of the $50 billion dollar AB Volvo global company. With the expansion of more products at its existing facilities, Nuss is ensured to be a long term player and will survive and ultimately thrive in today’s challenging economy.
“While Charley Nuss has since passed, I think my dad would be proud to see the Nuss family legacy continue to grow and expand as the years go by.”
Operating seven stores presents its own challenges. The stores almost operate like volunteer fire departments, Nuss said, explaining that if technicians are needed in a particular business they are brought in from another store until the need subsides.
“We have been around since Charley Nuss’s garage in the ’50’s and we are looking well into the future with all of our business decisions for generations to come. Mack Trucks Inc. has a slogan: ’Was. Is. Always will be.’ That about sums it up for us, too.” CEG
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