By Bob Miller, NTEA Director of Outreach
This article was published in the April 2018 edition of NTEA News.
NTEA recently visited Uhl Truck Sales Inc., a Distributor member in Louisville, Kentucky. The business — which has two other locations in New Albany, Indiana, and Palmyra, Indiana — is celebrating its 65th anniversary.
Clem Uhl founded the company as Uhl Super Service, a small service facility in Palmyra with one repair bay. In 1946, Bernard Uhl was honorably discharged from the U.S. Air Force and came home to work with his father. For the next seven years, they served customers in the surrounding area.
In 1953, Henry Jacobi offered Bernard his International Truck franchise. Bernard accepted, and Uhl Truck sales was born. Melvin Jacobi, who continues to be an integral employee after 50 years of service, remembers the first truck Bernard sold as being a model R-100 International pickup that went for around $750.
Utility service truck with a truck-mounted crane.
Over the next 13 years, the company continued to grow and add parts, accessories and equipment to its product lines; a bay for larger trucks; and employees to meet production needs. However, by 1966, Uhl had outgrown its facility, and construction began on a new building in Palmyra.
In 1969, Bernard added full-service leasing, and in 1981, he saw yet another opportunity for business growth. Although mounting interest rates were prevalent, he purchased the Louisville International Truck branch and created Uhl Truck Sales of Kentuckiana.
Uhl opened its New Albany location in 1995, which is also used as a service hub that offers customers a central location for parts and maintenance for their equipment.
Today, the company operates all three locations on a total of 23 acres, with five buildings and 125 employees. Bernard passed the business to Todd Uhl and Mike Shireman, and John Shireman is the owner.
During NTEA’s visit, John explained he feels growing a business is about being humble, smart and conservative. This involves making decisions using deliberate strategy, keeping customers’ best interests in mind and earning trust by building long-term partnerships.
In keeping with that philosophy, in May 2017, three multi-generational Midwest truck dealerships — Cerni Motor Sales, O’Halloran International and Uhl Truck Sales — came together to form the TriVista Company. Each partner is a long-term International Truck dealer and will continue to offer International’s complete vocational medium-duty and over-the-road truck product lines. They will also perform maintenance services for buses, and provide leasing products from Idealease Inc., as well as other complementary products, equipment and services.
For more information, visit uhltrucksales.com or call the Louisville location at 502-451-8360.