PEACH STATE TRUCK Centers was founded in 1974 by Tom Reynolds, father of current president Rick Reynolds. Originally a Ford commercial truck dealership, it now includes Daimler brands such as Freightliner and Western Star. The company employs about 725 people and offers truck sales, service and parts in 13 locations, three in Alabama and the remainder in Georgia.
WHAT BROUGHT YOU INTO THE TRUCKING INDUSTRY?
After graduating from Auburn University in 1979 with a degree in accounting, I worked for eight years for Coopers & Lybrand (now Price Waterhouse Coopers) and then for another eight years for the commercial real estate firm of Cushman and Wakefield. In 1995, my dad started making his succession plan and asked if I would be interested in coming into the business to work with my brother Tim. My dad worked in the company until his passing in 2016 and my brother until his untimely passing in 2017.
WHAT ARE YOUR LEADERSHIP RESPONSIBILITIES AT PEACH STATE?
I’ve got a great executive team that executes our business plans and strategic plans. And while data is important in running a business, the most important thing to us is the health and heart of our employees. So I look at how I can connect with our people and create opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives, either financially or by providing benefits and programs that help them feel secure.
WHAT IS YOUR MANAGEMENT PHILOSOPHY?
My three S operating philosophy is service, solutions and success.
If I can serve employees and create opportunities for them to do better, they’ll do a great job of taking care of our customers. When our customers are well taken care of, they’re going to be loyal to us and come back and do business with us.
HOW HAVE YOU ADAPTED YOUR HIRING PRACTICES TO ACCOMMODATE THE DEMOGRAPHIC CHANGES IN THE TRUCKING INDUSTRY?
Talent acquisition is a key focus for us. We create opportunities and present them internally first and then to the marketplace. Then we go out and vet the best people. Because of our reputation we attract a wonderfully diverse workforce, and among our best and most qualified candidates we have seen a growth in minorities, whether African American, Hispanic or female.
We’re also more aggressive than some companies about giving the next generation responsible roles. We have people in their early 30s and 40s who are leading divisions, running branches and working at the executive sales level. I think my son Burke, who is general manager of our flagship Norcross location, would like to succeed me. He needs to be a member of a very strong team to lead this dealership.
HOW DO YOU APPROACH STRATEGIC PLANNING?
We do formal sessions with the executive leadership team, which includes divisional vice presidents and general managers. Outside of succession planning and capital allocation, I think if you stay within three years, you’re going to have a fairly meaningful strategic plan.
I do think about what our environment needs to look like in five years so that we’re prepared for whatever happens, such as EVs, automated trucks or e-commerce. I stay close to our OEM representatives so that I understand where they want to go five years from now.
WHERE DO YOU WANT TO LEAD YOUR COMPANY IN THE NEXT FIVE YEARS?
I’m looking through a fairly conservative lens, because our business is cyclical. It’s been very good for too long and I think in the next five years there’s going to be a slowdown. I still want to be open to growth through acquisition and through providing a higher level of service to our customers as they grow their business. We want to create opportunities for better training at the entry level and as employees grow in their careers. Over the next five years, we’ll be investing in creating very comprehensive, systematic technical training. At the same time, we want to make sure that our culture doesn’t move away from its core values. We want to be a family business, because we think that means a lot to our employees.
WHAT KEEPS YOU UP AT NIGHT?
There’s really nothing that keeps me up at night. But I do think about making sure that I’ve got a good team to lead the company into the future, and that we’re building an understanding of the technology issues that are impacting our business.
I’m also watching the economy to see if there’s anything that provides insights into the market slowing down so we can position the company and be ahead of that shift.
WHAT’S THE LAST LEADERSHIP BOOK YOU READ?
Everybody Matters by Bob Chapman. It’s a great book about caring for your employees.
WHAT KEEPS YOU ON TOP OF YOUR GAME?
Investing in my people, encouraging my people and serving my people, as well as engaging alongside a strong leadership team, has kept us focused on our customers through recent events. We’ve also been intentional in our succession planning to ensure the continued growth of Peach State and our customers regardless of uncertain market conditions or other influences that may come our way.