Merchants Fleet is expanding its Truck Sales & Engineering Group in response to growing demand for vans and trucks and the specialized equipment that goes along with them.
The fleet industry has been grappling with truck and equipment backlogs due to increased demand for trucks and vans. According to a 2018 study by Cox Automotive, full-size and mid-size trucks are increasing their market share to 12-14% and 3-4%, respectively, while cars decline. Reports and Data has also reported that the Construction Equipment and Heavy Equipment market is expected to grow to $196.4 billion by 2026 due to a variety of factors, including increased construction activities, urbanization, and economic growth.
“As more fleets move away from sedans and toward a wider spectrum of vehicles, we were seeing an increased client need for expertise in trucks and upfitting,” said Candice Groth, Director of Purchasing – Operations at Merchants Fleet. “Our goal with this team is to provide high-touch service to clients so their drivers have the right vehicles to do their jobs safely and efficiently. We also combine engineering expertise with dedicated truck sales experts, who both have strong relationships with upfitters and suppliers, to provide a smoother experience.”
The team recently hired Chris Johnston as its newest Senior Truck & Upfit Engineer to meet increasing needs for upfitting and truck expertise. Johnston joins an extensive team that includes Senior Truck & Upfit Engineer Joe Birren, Regional Sales Manager Jake Hebenstreit, Mobility Leasing Services – Business Development Russ Williams, Director of Operations – Purchasing Candice Groth, Senior Vice President of Sales Tom Coffey, and Senior Vice President of Operations Adam Secore.
The team is dedicated to helping clients with selecting, upfitting, and optimizing their trucks to reach maximum return on investment and achieve the best performance for their fleet. With the dedication of a specialized team, clients have more access to services such as order forecasting and project management, customized recommendations to drive efficiencies, and driver interviews and studies to evaluate fleet needs.
Johnston brings over 15 years of experience in the fleet industry, with a focus on upfitting. Prior to joining Merchants Fleet, Johnston created chassis and upfit specifications for light duty vehicles in his role as Truck & Upfit Consultant at Element Fleet Management. He also worked in new vehicle acquisition at Element, and prior to that he spent more than a decade at GE Capital, where he managed the purchase of light, medium, and heavy duty trucks, managed customer bailment pools, collaborated with vendors to recommend the best upfit packages, and provided coaching, team building, and assistance to team members.
Photo: (From left to right) Joe Birren, Senior Truck & Upfit Engineer; Tom Coffey, Senior Vice President of Sales; Chris Johnston, Senior Truck & Upfit Engineer; Adam Secore, Senior Vice President of Operations; Candice Groth, Director of Operations – Purchasing; Russ Williams, Mobility Leasing Services – Business Development.