Hunter Truck Sales – 75 Years of Customer Service
Homer Hunter in front of his Eau Claire, PA filling station.
Homer Hunter (foreground) with (standing) Jeffery, Nancy Hunter Mycra,
Harry and Bob. William is seated on the truck hood, Debbie Hennig at the
wheel and David is in the sleeper.
One of Hunter Truck Sales locations operated by the Hunter Companies.
The 3rd generation of the Hunter family: seated – Jeffery, President;
Back Row, L to R: Executive Vice President David, Nancy and William.
By Steve Pollock
EAU CLAIRE, PA… “Always give the customer what they want and what you promise them” – Homer Hunter
In 1938 Homer Hunter opened a small service station selling Quaker State oil products in the rural Western Pennsylvania town of Eau Claire. While the filling station has been gone for sometime, Hunter Truck Sales still remains, after 75 years, at the same location at the junctions of Routes 38 and 58 in the small town of Eau Claire.
Homer grew up about two miles down the road and worked on the family farm. He decided that farming wasn’t for him and when the opportunity to purchase the filling station in nearby Eau Claire presented itself; Homer started his own business, selling Quaker State gas and oil. The filling station was always a source of great pride and satisfaction for Homer and before long he was selling tires, repairing automobiles and trucks and then began selling trucks. Homer never imagined that one day his small company would grow to 15 locations in three states.
It was the era when coal was king and Eau Claire was located in the middle of numerous mining operations. Coal mining required many trucks to mine and haul the coal. Realizing the potential, International Harvester offered Homer a franchise in 1950. Driven by the coal boom and Homer Hunter’s dedication to his customers, truck sales, including International’s popular Scout, continued to grow. In the early sixties son’s Harry and Bob Hunter joined Homer in the family business. Always looking for new and better ways to serve their customers, the Hunters started a full maintenance Leasing program in the late sixties and joined the Idealease network in the early seventies.
By 1983 Hunter Truck Sales had established themselves as one of Western Pennsylvania’s premier International Harvester truck dealers. The company opened a body shop and IdeaLease facility on Rt. 38 outside of the city of Butler, Pennsylvania. Just a year later, taking notice of Hunter’s growth, Peterbilt awarded a franchise to Hunter Truck Sales and the company opened their second full service dealership on State Route 8, a few miles south of the city of Butler.
Hunter spent the ensuing years establishing a reputation for providing excellent customer service and in 1995 they opened their third dealership in Uniontown, Pennsylvania. The new dealership ushered in a period of growth that has continued beyond the new millennium to this very day. Just two years later in 1997, Hunter Keystone Peterbilt was purchased in Allentown and Lancaster, Pennsylvania, a location was opened on Campbell’s Run Road near Pittsburgh and a second IdeaLease opened in the Pittsburgh suburb of Etna. Hunter then acquired dealerships in Erie and Clearfield, Pennsylvania, forming Hunter Erie Truck Sales, followed by an acquisition that formed Hunter Jersey Peterbilt and soon after the company opened another Hunter Jersey Peterbilt location in Pennsville, New Jersey. Hunter then opened a satellite sales and service facility on I-80 exit 42 at the Emlenton Truck Plaza, just 5 miles from their original dealership in Eau Claire. A year later Hunter Keystone Peterbilt purchased a Buffalo, New York Peterbilt dealership and Hunter Keystone Peterbilt merged with Hunter Erie Truck Sales.
As the Hunter companies began the year 2010, the ownership and operations of the company were passed to the third generation of the Hunter family. Harry’s son Jeffery Hunter now serves as President. Harry’s sons, David Hunter and William Hunter are Executive Vice Presidents. Bob Hunter’s daughter Nancy Hunter Mycka is also an Executive Vice President for the Hunter Family of Companies. A fourth generation of the family is in the business. David’s son Tyler will be working at the new Lamar, Pennsylvania dealership located on I-80. In 2011 the company built a brand new dealership at the Clearfield exit off of I-80.
In 2012 The Hunter Family of Companies built a brand new corporate office on State Route 8 across from their Butler, PA dealership. The company expects to have two new dealerships up and running by the end of 2013; one located on I-80 at Lamar and another on I-70 at the Dallas Pike Exit 11 near Wheeling, West Virginia. Currently the Hunter Companies have 15 locations, including eight full service Peterbilt dealerships and 4 International dealerships. Four locations have dual franchises for both International and Peterbilt and there are two IdeaLease facilities as well as a full service truck body shop.
The Hunter Companies’ growth over the years has not come without many challenges. The Hunter executives: Jeffery, Nancy, William and David reflect on 75 years of growth, saying that they “owe a debt of gratitude to Homer, Harry and Bob for laying the foundation for growth and the company’s many loyal employees and customers who have made growth possible.”
Many of Hunter’s employees are the 3rd and 4th generations of families to work at Hunter Truck Sales. Some of the employees with the longest tenure at Hunter include Bob Hunter, who started in 1963; Body Shop Manager Dick Mong (1965); and Sherb Jamison who started in 1970 and is credited with starting Hunter’s Mobile Parts Delivery Service. Over the years hundreds of Hunter employees have helped the company grow and flourish. Their efforts have also helped Hunter to receive numerous awards from both Peterbilt (Platinum Oval Award) and International (Circle of Excellence Award). In 2012 the Pittsburgh Business Times recognized Hunter Truck Sales among the Top 6 Fastest Growing Companies in Western Pennsylvania.
Over the years customer service has fueled the success and growth of the Hunter companies. President Jeffery Hunter stated, “Our grandfather Homer Hunter always told us that we were a parts and service store that just happened to sell trucks.” In the formative years, if a customer was in need of a part that was not in stock, Homer was known to have the part taken off of one of the new trucks on the lot to expedite the repairs. Today with a parts inventory in excess of 24 million dollars, Hunter has nearly every part for an International or Peterbilt that a customer will need. They also carry a full line of parts for other trucks as well. The company operates a fleet of over 100 parts delivery vans and 12 mobile field service units to serve their customers. Hunter offers 24-hour turnaround on DPF cleaning throughout the parts delivery network. Three locations – Butler, Uniontown and Pittsburgh offer 24 hr/7 days a week parts and service availability and all dealerships have extended parts and service hours Monday-Friday from 6 am to midnight and Saturdays from 7 am – 4 pm. All locations have 24/7 services through after hours service providers. Utilizing Peterbilt’s MDI Program (Managed Dealer Inventory), Hunter is able to maintain a constant and consistent parts inventory for their customers. The company also initiated their “1 Hour Promise.” Hunter pledges to their customers that within 1 hour they will diagnose the problem, prepare a repair estimate, check on parts status and begin repairs, if possible.
The customer can also lease a truck through one of Hunter’s IdeaLease or PacLease leasing centers. Hunter became an affiliate of Idealease in 1971 and in 2006 became a PacLease affiliate. Hunter has also recently expanded their services to operate maintenance facilities for a few of their fleet customers. The company operates the maintenance shop on the company’s premises, allowing the customer to focus on hauling freight instead of fixing and maintaining their trucks. In 2010 Hunter became an authorized Paccar engine distributor, further enhancing their services to their customers.
In their 75-year history, the Hunter companies estimate that they have sold nearly 100,000 trucks. Today they are proud to offer products such as the Peterbilt 389, 579, new vocational 567, as well as the International TerraStar 4x4 and ProStar and LoneStar tractors along with the full line of other Peterbilt and International products, including Cummins ISG natural gas engines. The Hunter companies are well positioned to provide parts, service and equipment to drillers in the Marcellus Shale gas fields. From specially spec’d heavy-duty tractors to water and sand tank trailers and straight trucks, Hunter has gas field equipment in stock. Hunter also has technicians at all 12 locations that are certified to service the new CNG (Compressed Natural Gas) and LNG (Liquid Natural Gas) engines. They also expect to have CNG/LNG certified facilities at Lamar, Pennsville and Wheeling by the end of 2013.
It is hard to imagine how Hunter Truck Sales will grow in the years to come but one thing is certain. All of the Hunter companies' family of 750 plus employees remains focused on a single goal, providing the best service possible for their customers. President Jeffery Hunter sums up the company’s mission statement “We’ve always strived to earn our customer’s business. That has been our life’s work beginning with my Granddad, then with my Father and Uncle and now with us. We are dedicated to long-term relationships with our customers and employees”.