Automobile

How buying truck service center helped Calif. dealer diversify, grow

Today, National Truck Sales & Service has seven service bays and nine employees, including five technicians. It offers maintenance such as oil changes, tire rotations and alignments, plus repair work. Despite its name, the operation doesn’t sell trucks right now. But adding that capability for brands such as International and Mack is on Cooper’s radar.

The center services 80 trucks a month, up from about 15 when he bought the facility.

“It’s brought us a part of our business we wouldn’t otherwise be able to reach or service out of a retail dealership,” Cooper told Automotive News. “We don’t have a big enough footprint at our retail dealership to handle the amount of business that we’re doing because these trucks are so much bigger.”

By moving medium- and heavy-duty service away from the Chevrolet store, Cooper was able to expand service capacity for the dealership’s retail customers, which has grown substantially over the years. When Cooper bought Chevrolet of Watsonville, it averaged sales of nine vehicles, new and used, per month. By 2019, sales had increased to 85 per month.

Watsonville Auto Group also has Watsonville Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram and Watsonville Ford, which Cooper acquired last year, and a vehicle buying center. The group sold 2,693 new and used vehicles combined in 2020 and is tracking to sell around 2,880 vehicles this year, Cooper said.

Each of Cooper’s dealerships has a strong emphasis on commercial vehicle sales — a reflection of customer demand in Watsonville, an agricultural community in Northern California that is home to berry giant Driscoll’s.

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