December 1, 1989. I hired Greg Martin. Well, the truth is, I twisted his arm and stole him away from Hansel Ford down the street in Santa Rosa CA. I knew almost the moment I met him that he had to be a part of this new thing I was doing called a commercial truck department.
I had been a sales manager since 1975 at other dealerships, and in April of 1989, I was invited to resurrect a defunct commercial accounts department experiment. The manager suddenly left, fed up after a heart attack, and since the manager was making most of the sales, the two or three sales team members left were lost. They mostly did what is called 'fleetail' sales there; that is, selling retail pieces, especially popular retail pieces at fleet type prices, barely justifying their reason for existence.
After about 30 days, I had another idea: Let's sell upfitted commercial trucks, create a market they weren't in, make incremental sales, at normal gross profits, and grow the business-focused business with that lead. I found a cab chassis and ordered a service body from a local supplier. We began with one Harbor service body from a local distributor.
Chevrolet was beginning to get much more excited about commercial trucks, wanting to expand their offerings, and market share. They completely redesigned their cab chassis line for the 1990 model year, and were introduced in late 1989. Here's an image of me leaning on one of the newly redesigned 1990 units with a 12' contractor style flatbed on it, trying to look suave and oozing with confidence.
Now that I was in the commercial truck business, I was looking for one or more very good salesmen. In late October, I met one of the best salesman I've ever met in my entire career in Greg Martin. He had just begun working at the Ford store down the street and was in their training program. Prior to that beginning at the Ford store, he sold machinery, such as lathes, press breaks, and all manner of things that bend and cut and shape metal, among other types of machines. I don't even remember how we were introduced, but that's all it took for me. He simply had to come work with me.
Greg led the pack and never looked back, and he was a huge help to make that new commercial truck department very successful. But more than sales performance, he was pure fun to be around. He was eager and very good at building long-term relationships. This alone has served him well throughout his career.
We worked together for almost four years at Biddulph, then I went back to Woodard Chevrolet at began a somewhat larger commercial truck operation. In time, Greg joined me there and was the sales leader and a key ingredient in the overall massive success there, as we became the number one commercial truck dealer in three states, leading eventually to me writing a book, Commercial Truck Success, first published in 2012.
Greg took his talents back to the Santa Rosa area and is now the commercial truck manager at Platinum Chevrolet in Santa Rosa CA where he is still leading the pack today.
So Happy 27th Anniversary, my dear friend Greg Martin, and also, Happy Birthday too!