For his exemplary leadership and innovation in truck dealership management, service to his trucking industry dealer colleagues and customers and his community impact, Oscar Horton of Sun State International Trucks has been selected 2020 American Truck Dealer of the Year.
“What you’re looking at here happens in America, and I’m proud to be an American,” said Horton after receiving the award, sponsored by ATD, Heavy Duty Trucking, and Procede. “It hasn’t always been an easy ride. It’s never easy in the trucking business.”
Horton credited “a village” of people who contributed to his success and this moment.
“There were a lot of villagers behind me – bankers, manufacturers, attorneys, and friends...I’ve been traveling with a lot of villagers,” he said, citing an African proverb. “I’ve been riding with others for over 40 years.”
20 Years of Dealer Growth
From a single location in Tampa, Florida, Horton has built a full-service commercial transportation business with six locations in west-central Florida. Sun State represents International Trucks and IC Bus and supports his customers with three brands of trailer sales and service and related truck body equipment — lift gates, hoists, tarp systems. Under Horton’s 20 years of leadership, Sun State added five locations and quadrupled revenues.
Oscar Horton was recruited by International Harvester upon graduation from the University of Arkansas. In his 25-year corporate career with IH, he worked in truck sales, finance, and labor relations, ending his career as vice president and general manager of Foundry Operations.
In 2000, when an opportunity came up to purchase the Tampa and Sarasota dealerships, a base from which to provide International brand trucks, parts and service to the west coast of Florida, Horton took the challenge. He has led a successful, growing dealership network for 20 years.
Horton’s managerial philosophy includes offering each employee an opportunity to understand the dealership’s business. Each Sun State employee participates in four hours of training that empowers them with the financial literacy to understand the dealership’s income statements, balance sheets, cash flow and performance metrics. This training focuses employees on “total transaction profitability,” which includes the long-term view: a focus on “doing the right thing for our customers, our business and ourselves.” Horton hosts quarterly all employee meetings to discuss corporate strategy and facilitate joint goal setting in an inclusive fashion.
Horton has also given his time and expertise to two nonprofit organizations, serving on the Board of Directors of the Tampa Bay Boys & Girls Clubs and as Chair of the Board of Goodwill Industries Tampa.
Jim Bland Named Dealer Finalist
Jim Bland, Vice President, Transource Trucks, Kernersville, North Carolina, was named the 2020 Truck Dealer of the Year Finalist.
Bland’s 58-year career in the truck dealership business demonstrates exceptional growth and perseverance. Bland entered the work force as a mechanic for Baker-Mayfield, the International dealer in Macon, Georgia. After service in the U.S. Army Reserves with seven months on active duty, he returned to work in Baker-Mayfield’s truck service department and the dealer owned leasing company.
When the leasing company was purchased by Georgia Mack Sales, Bland joined that organization as a branch manager at age 30. 11 years after he entered the industry, Bland was named General Manager of Interstate Truck leasing with 10 locations. Three years later he was promoted to Vice President and General Manager of Georgia Mack Sales with six branches and 150 employees.
In 1982 he purchased the Mack Truck factory branch in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Under Bland’s leadership, Triad Mack Sales and Service has grown to eight locations, five of which are full-service dealerships, located in central and eastern North Carolina along three interstate highways. The dealership serves 75 counties in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia.
Read more about the winners and the nominees, including their insights on technician training, truck spec'ing trends, and more, in the March 2020 issue of Heavy Duty Trucking.