Royal Truck & Utility Trailer, a seven-location dealer operation with facilities across Michigan, was named the winner of the first ever Trailblazer Award, powered by Successful Dealer, during the National Trailer Dealer Association (NTDA) Convention banquet Friday in Marco Island, Fla.
The Trailblazer Award was created this year to honor North American trailer operations for their business excellence, customer service superiority and importance to their communities.
Sponsored graciously by Hendrickson and Procede Software, the award evaluates dealers on a number of business, workforce and philanthropic areas. Candidates for the award were submitted through an open industry nomination process this spring and finalists were chosen based on applications submitted by the dealers in July.
Other finalists for this year’s inaugural award were Stoops Trailers, Trailer Equipment, Tri-State Trailer Sales and Vernon Gene’s.
Founded as a two-bay service operation that evolved to support trailer sales, parts and more, Royal Truck & Utility Trailer President Ken Bumgardner accepted the award on his company’s behalf at the NTDA Convention.
“I really appreciate this. There’s a lot of great dealers in this room so this is a real honor. We certainly wouldn’t be here if not for my dad and my grandfather who started the business and transferred it to us,” he said.
Bumgardner and his sister, CFO Julie Igielski, serve as co-owners of the third-generation family business that was founded by their grandfather Roy Bumgardner and a business partner in 1970. Their father, Carl, led the business for many years and, since the siblings have taken over, it has only continued to flourish.
Each generation has led the business differently, but one thing that hasn’t changed has been leadership’s focus on employee success and well-being. Royal’s leaders prioritize their workforce above all else, believing happy, confident and engaged people are the best employees and provide the best customer experience.
It’s a belief that’s hard to argue against when coupled with the company’s success.
Previously a finalist for another Trucks, Parts, Service award, our Distributor of the Year in 2018, Royal Truck & Utility Trailer has added two stores and nearly 100 people to its workforce since that recognition. Bumgardner estimates Royal is about seven times larger than it was when he and Igielski ascended to their leadership roles over a decade ago.
In earning Utility Trailer’s business as the OEM’s dealer for the entire state of Michigan in January, the company rebranded itself by adding Utility to its former Royal Truck & Trailer moniker. Enhancing the trailer focus was apt — 73% of the company’s revenue comes from trailer-related sales and the business supports nine trailer brands (Utility, MAC, MAC LTT, Gincor, Titan, Talbert, Wilson, Pitts and Timmins).
“We have a very diverse trailer sales offering,” Bumgardner says. “We believe our offering allows us to support all of our customer needs and we are always open to consider a new opportunity.”
Bumgardner made a point of thanking Royal’s OEM and supplier partners in receiving the award.
“We have a lot of great partners … I hope they’re as proud of us as we are supporting them.”
And Royal’s excellent workforce does a great job bringing the company those opportunities. Bumgardner and Igielski say they encourage associates to develop personal friendships and relationships with customers, which in turn strengthen the company’s bonds with the businesses it supports. Royal also regularly holds on-site customer events and will facilitate training events for customers at their locations.
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Director of Marketing Renee Kompoltowicz, who’s been with Royal for three years, says the company’s workforce is one of the biggest assets in her work. Associates across the company have strong connections with Royal’s customer base and have created an environment where “customers feel they can share with us,” she says.
She references the Great Lakes Pride & Shine truck show in Hudsonville, Mich., which the company attends and sponsors, as a great example.
“We use that as an opportunity to meet customers and get our name out there. It’s much more about building relationships than trying to sell something. Our people really get that,” she says. “Customers need to be able to trust us to be comfortable showing us who they are.”
And when customers do that, Igielski says Royal works hard to never drop the ball.
“We do what we say we’re going to do. We follow through even if we’re not making the biggest margin,” she says. “We want customers to be able to rely on us.”
Bumgardner agrees, adding, “We very much don’t run on business on what is going to make us the most amount of money. The bank doesn’t like to hear that, but we know if we take care of our employees and our customers, we’ll make money.”
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