Cerni Motor Sales Reaches Milestone 50th Year
By Steve Pollock
YOUNGSTOWN, OH… 50 years in the trucking industry is literally nearly a lifetime to be in business. Cerni Motor Sales, a franchised International dealer located off I-80 Exit 223 Youngstown, Ohio, has not only been in business for 50 years, the company still remains under the ownership of the Cerni family.
In 1961 John Cerni, Sr. was a District Manager for the Chrysler Corporation. It was a time when freight carriers owned most truck dealerships. When the opportunity to purchase a GMC franchise from Niles, Ohio based Daniel’s Motor Freight presented itself, John Cerni decided to go into business for himself. John then opened the GMC dealership in Warren, Ohio. It wasn’t long before John decided he could use some help, so he called his brother Charlie and asked him to join the business. At the time, Charlie was a Professional Dancer and was on tour performing at the Copacabana Night Club in Puerto Rico. Charlie decided it was time for a career change and returned to Warren to help operate the dealership.
By 1965 John and Charlie had outgrown the Parkman Road facility and built a new dealership on Rt. 422 in the Niles, area. The Cerni brothers initiated a Mission Statement that is still used by the company to this day, “Cerni Motors, Where Only Your Truck Gets More Attention Than You.”
By 1970 the trucking industry was going through an evolution. Diesel engines were quickly replacing the old gas powered tractors. The Cerni brothers had the opportunity to add an International franchise to their dealership. They could now offer the International diesel tractor line along with the popular International Scout passenger vehicle. For a few years Cerni Motors sold both GMC pickup trucks and International tractors. General Motors began phasing out their heavy-duty line, including the GMC “Crackerbox”. When GMC finally sold their heavy-duty line to Volvo Trucks, the Cernis dropped the GMC franchise.
It was also about this time that the second generation of the Cerni family joined the business: John and Charlie’s sons – John, Charlie, Ray and Joe. The dealership grew and prospered. The Cerni family even started a separate Fruehauf trailer dealership on Rt. 422 in nearby Girard, Ohio.
As the 90s rolled around John Cerni II had become President, Joe Cerni Vice President, Charlie Cerni was Sales Manager and Ray Cerni operated Outside Parts Sales. The Cernis recognized a need to be located along I-80 to be accessible to their customers. The company opened a full service satellite dealership in the Truckworld Complex off I-80 at exit 234 in Hubbard, Ohio. Within a few years Cerni Motors had outgrown this facility and recognized the need to be located along I-80. In 1998 John Cerni purchased 18 acres off I-80 Exit 223 at Rt. 46 on Youngstown’s west side. The new location was ideal, offering easy access for over-the-road truckers and was located near truckstops, hotels and restaurants for their customers convenience. A state-of-the-art 40,000 square foot International dealership was built and the dealerships were consolidated into one full service facility.
Today Cerni Motor Sales is a familiar landmark to drivers traveling I-80 through Youngstown, Ohio. It is just a few miles east of the junctions of I-76 and I-80 at the entrance to the Ohio Turnpike.
While much has changed with trucks, trucking companies and truck dealers – one thing remains the same, the Cerni family and their employees total commitment to serving their customers. Today Cerni Motor Sales offers 20 service bays with extended service hours, a two-story parts department and a full service body shop with a paint booth. Cerni Motor Sales also has a frame straightening machine, Vis-Check machine, DPF cleaning machine, as well as a front and rear alignment machine. The company strives to be not only progressive in their services to their customers, but a one-stop shop for all their parts and service needs. Cerni Motor Sales also stocks the full line of medium and heavy-duty International tractors, including ProStar, LoneStar, WorkStar, DuraStar and PayStar. They also have full service truck and trailer rental and leasing available as well. Customers can rent or lease Class 8 tractors, straight trucks, refrigerated trailers, dry vans or flatbed trailers through Cerni Motor Sales.
On August 17th Cerni Motor Sales held an Open House for their customers in appreciation of their support and to mark the company’s 50th year in business. The celebration included an antique truck show, free lunch and door prizes for drivers. The event was open to the public and was well attended.
As the company enters its second half-century of service it remains committed to its customers and to being a good corporate citizen. Cerni Motor Sales is deeply involved in community activities and events, including Hands On Volunteer Network (HOVN), the Wolves Club and the Strimbu Memorial Fund. The company still uses their original motto initiated by John and Charlie Cerni in the 1960s, “Cerni Motors – Where Only Your Truck Gets More Attention Than You”, however John Cerni II added another motto when the new dealership was built in 1998, “Cerni Means Trucks.” It is very appropriate, as over the years the Cerni name has become synonymous with trucks to both drivers and fleets in Youngstown and its surrounding areas.
Cerni Motor Sales has also seen operational changes in the Cerni family the past few years. John Cerni remains President and CEO, and Ray Cerni is still in Outside Parts Sales. Joe Cerni has retired and Sales Manager Charlie Cerni passed away in the summer of 2010. The third generation of the Cerni family has joined the company. Vince Cerni is the Leasing Manager.
Whatever changes the trucking industry may have in the store in the years to come, the Cerni family remains committed to providing good service at a fair price while also accommodating the needs of their customers. When You Say “Cerni”, You Mean “Trucks”.