John Cerni Celebrates His 50-year Career

AUSTINTOWN, Ohio — It’s been 50 years since John Cerni began a summer job at Cerni Motors Inc., the new and used truck dealership founded by his father, John Cerni Sr., and uncle, Charlie Cerni.

Looking back on his career as second-generation owner of the family business, Cerni said his biggest hope for his legacy is that it will continue for many generations to come.

“The greatest accomplishment that I can hope for is that I have created a good basis for Cerni Motors and Girard Equipment that will carry on through many more generations,” Cerni said. “I have always strived to create a culture of customer service and to do that, we as ‘Cerni People’ need to want to come in every day and go that extra mile for our customers. It has to be a culture that provides that atmosphere.”

Fresh out of high school, Cerni spent his first summer with the company as a janitor, sweeping service bays and mopping floors. A year later, he graduated to tire changer and was responsible for picking up parts and delivering them to customers between tire jobs.

In 1971, he worked afternoon shifts in the shop while attending classes at Youngstown State University during the day. When he graduated in 1976, he became parts manager for the dealership, a position he held for 15 years until becoming general manager in 1991.

In 1998, he purchased Cerni Motors and became president. That year, he moved the dealership to its current location at state Route 46 and Interstate 80.

John Cerni II (center left) accepting an award with his uncle, Charlie Cerni (far right).

Since then, the dealership has expanded to include two full-service dealerships specializing in International Trucks and Benson-Transcraft Trailers, as well as a body company – Jones Equipment at Cerni’s Painesville location. In 2017, Cerni merged with Uhl Truck Sales of Kentucky and Indiana, and O’Halloran International of Iowa to become Trivista Companies Inc.

After 50 years, Cerni said he has many fond memories, but his favorites are when he was able to help advance the careers of others.

“I have many great memories looking back, but my favorites are of the people I was able to establish relationships with – the many quality employees who have gone through Cerni Motors and Girard Equipment, advanced themselves and retired,” Cerni said. “It is a great feeling to know I was part of their lives and helped them reach their goals.”

Pictured above: John Cerni (left) with David Henry, owner of DDH Trucking.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.