Bend Firm Blazes Trail as ‘One-Stop-Shop’ for Working Vehicles
by SIMON MATHER CBN Feature Writer
A Bend company specializing in working trucks and truck accessories is building business by accelerating efforts to diversify its service – including launching a fabrication shop and retail steel sales – as others slow down in the face of the economy’s lag.
“To some extent you make your own rodeo,” says The Truck Works co-owner Brent Durbin, who runs the business along with spouse Susan Johnson. “In more challenging times you can either sit back and wring your hands, or you can work hard and smart.
“We are redoubling our efforts to serve our customers better and diversifying the range of what we can offer, to be a ‘one-stop-shop’ for just about anything that goes on a truck.”
With a staff boasting a combined 88-plus years in the industry, with extensive experience spanning sales , service, parts and installation, The Truck Works is well known as one of Oregon’s largest locations for both hard working trucks and light duty equipment.
The company carries an extensive product line of truck accessories, featuring everything from tool boxes, cab guards and running boards to canopies, tonneau covers, bed slides, van equipment, rack systems, performance upgrades, winches, bumpers, service bodies, flat beds, hitches and trailer accessories, cranes, lift gates, hoist systems, dump bodies, Power Take-Off (PTO) assemblies, tarp systems and snow and ice equipment.
The facility, on Bend’s Brinson Boulevard, also undertakes trailer repair and has held true to the claim of “building trucks for the people that build Central Oregon” since Durbin and Johnson purchased the business, formerly known as Triangle C, in 2001.
“We take the time to consult with customers when they first come in,” says Durbin. “Sometimes people may have an idea of how a truck should be built to best fit its purpose, but we can help focus on the customer’s specific needs to get the best results, and how to best achieve value for money.
“And we don’t want anyone to leave unhappy, so if we can’t help, we will direct you to someone who can.”
Not that there is much that Durbin and his team can’t tackle, especially with the addition of the fabrication shop which allows for broader scope in machine tooling and customization.
“We haven’t changed the business model of quality service at affordable pricing,” added Durbin. “We are just diversifying and expanding our range to build on long-term customer relationships and bring in more new business.”
To that end, Durbin has also ventured in to steel sales under the assumed business name of Bend Steel Supply, commenting: “The aim is to offer a customer-oriented retail option and we will have a wide range of rims, new steel and secondary products.
“We can particularly cater to the needs of the handyman, or weekend welder, for example, who realizes on a Friday afternoon that he needs something for the weekend, as we will also be open Saturdays.”
He has also obtained an Oregon dealer license to buy and sell used trucks, trailers and equipment, often involving rebuilding before being offered for resale as customized opportunities.
“We are motivated to add value to the business,” said Durbin. “With the reduction in contracting work currently, you are not going to see the volume of service bodies and flat beds that we have seen in the recent past.
“Right now you are seeing some businesses on the uptick and some going the other way. We are committed to being pro-active, utilizing a very good location, facility, equipment and staff.
“We see this as a perfect time to jump in and do different things. You have to look long term – too many people just look day-to-day.”
And Durbin is well-placed to speak on the subject of trucks, having been around them all his life. He recalled the first time he drove a truck, “at eight years old, hauling hay with my grandpa in Grants Pass.”
He also owned a fleet of trucks in the early 80s and worked in-house with Triangle C for three years prior to acquiring the business.
In-between he worked with Ray Sessler, head of Eugene-based scrap metal recycler Sessler Inc. and was involved in the tearing down of a number of the old sawmills in Oregon, including Bend’s Brooks-Scanlon facility in 1993, which brought the couple to this area.
In his early days he also had a background in hauling milk utilizing stainless steel tanks, which were also adapted, as sanitary, food-grade tanks, and used to supply potable water to the Eugene area in the late 1960s. As part of its portfolio, The Truck Works also has the ability to build and sell water trucks and tanks.
Johnson added that their company belongs to the National Truck Equipment Association (NTEA) which provides the backing of a comprehensive body of resources and knowledge of work trucks, and oversees areas such as safety and specifications to offer further assurances for customers, including in terms of warranty coverage.
Johnson and Durbin form a considerable team in leading the company, with Johnson adding: “As business owners we wear a number of different hats. You will often see Brent hands-on in the shop and he really sparkles in the dedication to customer satisfaction, and I get involved in a number of areas involving the business administration.
“We are also big believers in supporting the community and in promoting the cause of buying locally.
“Some businesses may be fearful of change, but we wanted to move past that to motivation on how we can best fulfill our customers’ needs.”
Durbin commented: “Susan offers a broad background in marketing and extensive experience in corporate retail, including customer service, safety and quality assurance.
“Just a couple of her roles are in advertising coordination and as controller, and she is key in keeping the whole team on track and focused on our goals.”
The Truck Works carries an extensive number of lines related to commercial grade truck equipment, including being the largest Protech (contractor/toolbox) dealer in Central Oregon, and exclusive distributor for products like Knapheide and Adrian Steel – which offers leading cargo management solutions for cargo vans.
“We are really multi-dimensional,” said Durbin. “Maybe people are not fully aware of our scope, but we cater to the whole range regarding equipment for small, medium and large trucks. It’s what we know and what we do.
“Our whole philosophy is really geared towards maximizing customer service and customer satisfaction.”