Katie Hopkins is the new CEO of Truck Centers, Inc.  -  Photo: Truck Centers

Katie Hopkins is the new CEO of Truck Centers, Inc.

Photo: Truck Centers

Truck Centers has a new but familiar face leading the company for the first time since 1976. Katie Hopkins, the granddaughter of the founder, took over as CEO on Jan. 1.

She succeeds her father, M. John Hopkins IV, who has led the company for nearly 48 years. He will remain active as chairman of the company's board of directors and co-chairman of the Daimler Truck North America National Dealer Council. 

The company, founded by the new CEO’s grandfather, marks its 54th anniversary in 2024. She becomes a third-generation owner, and the first woman to hold the position of CEO, a significant milestone in the company's history.

"It is a privilege to follow in my father's footsteps and be a responsible steward of Truck Centers and the 750-plus employee families and thousands of customers entrusted to us," said Katie Hopkins in a news release. "I plan to continue our long tradition of a people-first culture, sustainable growth, and being a trusted partner to serve our customers and communities to the best of our abilities." 

Midwestern Tradition

Truck Centers sells and services Freightliner and Western Star trucks. The company has grown from 15 employees at a single store in 1970 to more than 750 employees at 10 full-service DTNA dealerships and two auxiliary locations in three states.  

John Hopkins led the company through record-setting and challenging times for all but six years. Vice chairman and minority owner Michael Yates has been by his side for 46 years and will continue his role and mentorship of sales and customer service teams.

Justin Hopkins, Katie Hopkins’ brother and fellow third-generation company leader, will continue as executive vice president, leading facility builds and remodels, developing new revenue streams, and personally managing several large customer accounts.

"This transition has been many years in the making," John Hopkins said. "Katie and other next-gen members have worked alongside Mike and me for decades. We have seen them evolve and grow into leaders with passion and conviction that will bless our team, customers, and business associates. I have complete confidence that Katie will be a terrific steward of Truck Centers."

Truck Centers said the growth of its business and team, plus pandemic challenges, provided Katie Hopkins with several opportunities to grow as a leader and develop strategic policies and programs to improve the employee experience and operational efficiencies.

Up Through the Ranks

Katie Hopkins has played an active role in Truck Centers' success since joining the team full-time in 1992. Having grown up in the family business, she immediately connected with the company’s team members and embodied their passion and work, the company reported.

She worked her way up the ladder from accounts receivable collector to office manager of the company’s St. Louis dealership, then became assistant general manager and later general manager of that location. In addition to extensive on-the-job training and practical experience, both she and her brother completed an executive dealer education program that the National Automobile Dealers Association and Babson College co-created in 2009.

She was promoted to executive vice president in 2012 and president/COO in 2018.

"My grandfather, father, and Mike have led the business in such an honorable way that I am grateful to be entrusted with this blessing," she said.  "None of this would be possible without our amazing team of talented and dedicated employees," she said. "To know that my father and Mike have confidence in me and are present mentors during this transition is an honor.”

Industry and Community Involvement

Aside from her duties at Truck Centers, she currently serves on the boards of the Missouri Auto Dealers Association, St. Louis Regional Business Council, Southwestern Illinois Leadership Council, Better Business Bureau of St. Louis, and the St. Louis Children's Hospital.

Previously, she was the inaugural Next Gen Committee Chairperson for the American Truck Dealers Association, Daimler Elite Support Dealer Advisory Group member, keynote speaker for Cummins Women Empowerment Network, DTNA Customer Experience Day keynote speaker for a panel of trucking industry female leaders, and a legislative liaison advancing NADA and ATD initiatives on Capitol Hill.

"Truck Centers is a strong family business, and I am excited that with the new leadership, we will continue to build on our long-standing partnership between our two companies to support our mutual customers to keep the world moving," said Russ Nielsen, director of distribution strategy & operations at Daimler Truck North America.

Women in Trucking

As a female leader in the automotive/trucking sector, Hopkins is passionate about encouraging and supporting other women in leadership. She credits her father for creating an environment that provided leadership opportunities for talented women during an era where it was uncommon in our industry. 

"I grew up seeing strong and capable women lead departments and dealerships. While we operate in a male-dominated industry, I knew that anything was possible with hard work and earning the respect of your colleagues. Not seeing the same representation at a larger scale has made me recognize that I must continually strive to mentor others,” she explained. 

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