By MEGAN WILLIAMS
Daily News-Record 12/29/18
HARRISONBURG — Janice Shanholtzer was just out of high school when she applied for a job at Truck and Equipment doing parts inventory.
There isn’t a special or meaningful story about why she applied for the job she did. Shanholtzer was just ready to start working.
But what is special and meaningful was that she stayed. After taking the job in 1962, Shanholtzer has been with the company for 56 years.
That’s almost the length of the company’s existence. Truck and Equipment celebrated 60 years in business this year.
Truck and Equipment Corp. is a Mack truck and Hino truck dealer located in Harrisonburg. It was incorporated in 1958.
The company was started by Robert E. Plecker and owned by him until 1996, when he sold it to his employees through an employee stock ownership plan. The company has been employee-owned since.
Although Shanholtzer has had her hands in a lot of different aspects of the company over the years, she still works in the parts department doing inventory. Put simply, it’s work that she enjoys doing.
“When I started, we didn’t have computers,” she said. “Everything was done by hand. Invoices were handwritten. That’s been the biggest change.”
Computers aren’t the only things that have changed over the years, and they won’t be the last. But one thing that’s remained the same is the loyalty of the company’s customer base, said President Sonny Lasam.
“The customer is the reason that the company has been able to sustain the business for so many years,” he said.
Lasam came to Truck and Equipment the year it was sold to the employees. He had a career as a certified public account prior, and his firm helped the company transition to employee ownership, after which he stayed on.
Most of the company’s customers are local, but being close to two interstates means truckers passing through the area often need assistance.
“Mack is the most recognizable truck name is the United States, and if they have issues, they send them to us,” Lasam said about drivers.
The company employs 56 people in Harrisonburg and 12 in Winchester. Employees average more than 14 years of service. Lasam attributes the loyalty of the employees several things, including the fact that they have a stake in the company.
Truck and Equipment has had to adapt to changing times, Lasam said.
The parts department now provides online ordering similar to Amazon, where customers can look at the inventory, pricing and place orders.
Looking 10 years ahead, Lasam said the company will need to continue to adapt as electric vehicles and natural gas-fueled vehicles enter the market, as well as self-driving trucks.
“You always have to look at improving,” he said. “You have to set yourself apart. You always have to improve what you’re doing.”