Drew Linn, president of Birmingham, Ala.-based Southland InternationalTrucks, has been named the 2013 Truck Dealer of the Year. The national award, which is co-sponsored by the American Truck Dealers and Heavy Duty Trucking magazine, focuses on excellence in dealership performance, as well as industry and community leadership.
Linn began his career with International Harvester, now known as Navistar, in 1965. Throughout his extensive career, Linn has remained focused on providing excellent service to his customers.
"If you treat a customer the way you would want to be treated, then you will have a customer for life," Linn says. "At Southland International Trucks, customer service isn't just a saying; it's a way of life. We focus on making sure that all of our customers' business needs are met."
To illustrate the commitment to his customers, Linn included his personal contact information in advertisements and dealership signage. He has also worked closely with Navistar as a part of its Dealer Council to help other dealers work to resolve issues and identify opportunities in the truck market.
"Drew has always been in tune with our needs," said Southland International customer Chris Hornady, president of Hornady Transportation, LLC. "From instituting weekend shifts to making himself personally available, Drew makes sure that we have access to service whenever we need it because our business runs seven days a week."
As a member and former chairman of the Alabama Trucking Association, Linn also worked to expand member services for dealers throughout Alabama. He was instrumental in establishing one of the first truck driving schools in the state along with an accompanying technical training institute, helping to meet the needs of growing fleets.
Linn has had a distinguished career recognized with more than a dozen corporate and industry awards, including a previous nomination for the 2006 Truck Dealer of the Year, International Circle of Excellence, International Dealer of the Year (2008) and H. Chester Webb Distinguished Service Award (2009).
In his acceptance speech Saturday during the ATD Convention and Expo, Linn used the platform to commend his employees. “It’s an accomplishment made possible by our 200 dealership employees.”
“I spend more and more of my time coaching all these people, because the team’s getting bigger,” Linn told HDT in an interview. “I love the interaction with customers, but I love even more the interaction with the people [with whom I work]. The older I get, the more gratifying it is to see them become successful.”
Linn was selected from an elite group of truck dealers, including Steve Bacalis, president & CEO of Tom Nehl Truck Co. in Jacksonville, Fla., who was named a finalist.
Nominees for the award are evaluated on several categories, including dealership performance, civic contributions and industry leadership. The winner was chosen by a panel of professors from Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business.
The American Truck Dealers represents about 2,000 medium- and heavy-duty truck dealers.