Tri State Ford Expands Truck Inventory

EAST LIVERPOOL, Ohio – With the rebound in oil and gas exploration in full throttle across eastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania, the market for commercial trucks and vans is booming again.

“It’s grown exponentially over the last year-and-a-half,” says Don Maltarich, general manager at Tri State Ford in East Liverpool. “The shale industry around this area is really moving and there’s a lot of business for trucks right now.”

In November 2017, Hill International Trucks purchased the former Brand Ford dealership on Pennsylvania Avenue, Maltarich says. The acquisition was part of Hill’s strategy to enter the commercial end of the truck market with Ford. Since renamed Tri State, the dealership is in the process of expanding its footprint in Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania, he says.

“We’ve had some expansion since we took over 10 months ago,” Maltarich says. “The main thing was to get into the commercial industry.”

This segment consists of super duty trucks such as the F-750 and the F-350, while vans are also hot sellers in the commercial market, Maltarich says.

“This dealership was always a small dealership and not a commercial dealership,” he notes. As that market has grown, so too has the dealership’s inventory since Hill International’s acquisition.

“We started out with 35 to 40 new and 20 used vehicles,” Maltarich says. “Now, it’s well over 250 units between new and used.”

The new commercial truck and van division further augments the standard inventory, the general manager says, and notes that orders for 2019 are ready to move in.

Tri State Ford has also expanded its workforce over the last 10 months. “We’ve added employees to every department,” Maltarich says, noting the dealership employs 32.

Hill International has also invested in new furniture inside the dealership, constructed a customer lounge, expanded its parts and service department, increased the size of its sales lot and added a new detail shop.

Service, Maltarich notes, is a priority for the company.

“We’ll be adding a drive-thru car wash service for our customers,” he reports, while future plans call for opening a second garage devoted solely to commercial vehicles.

When Hill International Trucks, based in East Liverpool, acquired the dealership, it owned truck dealerships in Wheeling, W. Va., and in the Washington, Pa., region.

Hill International also has partnered with several NAPA auto parts stores and the divisions work in synergy with one another, Maltarich says.

The company was established in 1897 by Owen Spencer Hill and remains operated by the Hill family to this day. What made the Tri State deal so appealing is that both companies were family-owned, and the location of the dealership is near to one of Hill’s early locations. “The dealership was a staple in the community, but the owner was ready to retire and sold the business to Hill International,” Maltarich says.

Tri State is among the few dealerships in the East Liverpool region, which allows it to maintain steady market share throughout the area. And the dealership prides itself in strong community engagement, Maltarich adds.

“We’re a big part of the community,” he says.

“We support local schools through fundraisers for both Beaver Local and East Liverpool schools,” he says, while also helping to raise money for people in need. “We want to make sure the dealership is engaged.”

Pictured: Don Maltarich, general manager at Tri State Ford in East Liverpool.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.