Industry Report

Dealers Report Modest Sales of Heavy Trucks

AUSTINTOWN, Ohio — Mahoning Valley heavy-duty truck dealers cite factors including past satisfaction of demand for modest sales compared now to recent years. 

At Cerni Motors in Austintown, owner John Cerni reports sales overall are up about 5% from last year, down from the 10% or more rate he prefers. The dealership carries Class 5 though 8 trucks manufactured by International Trucks, and Class A trailers by Transcraft Trailers.

“It seems like the economy in general has kind of leveled off,” Cerni says.  Certain market segments, such as construction and steel, are buying right now, while others are flat. “It’s not time to panic yet,” he says.  

“We had a heck of a run the last several years; and a lot of that was pent-up demand,” Scott Williamson, sales manager at Fyda Freightliner in Austintown, says. Companies that had been in the market for new vehicles have satisfied that need so sales are returning to more normal replacement numbers, he says. The dealership, which primarily serves the steel-hauler market, carries Freightliner, Western Star and Isuzu trucks.  

The used market has slowed as well over the past three months, a phenomenon he says is taking place nationwide. Delays in getting new trucks delayed sales and therefore trade-ins, Williamson says. Now used inventory is at good levels but the market slowed for other reasons, including possibly the trade war with China or people not needing excess trucks.  

Business overall is better than last year, but part of that Williamson attributes to sales being pushed into the early part of this year that otherwise might have taken place at the end of 2018.

“Used is starting to pick up again,” he says. I think the fourth quarter is going to be much better than the third quarter.” 

One characteristic of truck buyers is they tend to be loyal to their brands, says Jim Finnerty, sales manager for R&R Truck Centers, Austintown. “If you have a customer that likes your brand and likes the reliability and the service, they’ll stay with you.”

Sales this year are about the same as in 2018 but the last 18 months have been “interesting,” Finnerty says. Both Mack and Volvo, two of the brands R&R carries, came up with redesign for their trucks, increasing demand for the units.

“Last year we couldn’t get stock units from Mack or Volvo. The only way we could get a truck is if we ordered it in for a customer,” Finnerty says. 

“People were calling from all over the country. They were calling any dealer that might have availability,” affirms Jake Wagner, who specializes in Mack sales at R&R. 

Next year, he hopes sales will be better than in 2019 “but it’s too early to tell,” Finnerty says. 

Pictured: Mack trucks. (Image: Dennis Elzinga [CC BY 2.0]

Copyright 2019 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.