Smith Trucking still expanding after 12 yearsWORTHINGTON — When Smith Trucking moved to Worthington 12 years ago, it wasn’t near the size it is today.
By: Aaron Hagen, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — When Smith Trucking moved to Worthington 12 years ago, it wasn’t near the size it is today.
“When we moved to Worthington in March of 2000, we had 19 trucks,” said Vice President/General Manager Mike Smith. “Today, including the four or five owner-operators we have, we have about 95. We have 130 to 140 employees and drivers that live virtually from coast to coast. This is our only terminal, so everybody that works for us is based out of here. They can live pretty much anywhere as long as it’s in a line of traffic.”
That growth has come because of the quality of people the company employs, according to Smith.
“The biggest thing is people. Instead of buying 20 trucks and then looking for people, we tried to get the good people in place and then have added equipment to handle that,” Smith said. “We’ve always said there’s no magic number to what size we want to be other than we want to be able to manage what we have.”
Recently, they have remodeled a building on Second Avenue, close to Lake Okabena, to serve as a maintenance facility.
“It’s a former Campbell’s Soup warehouse for their dry storage,” Smith said. “We have been occupying it since 2005 or so. We opened it as a warehouse as kind of a separate business from our trucking business.
“About the end of 2008 when the recession came upon, a lot of companies weren’t warehousing as much and were doing a lot of just-in-time delivery. A lot of the warehousing cut down.”
Without the need for the warehouse, Smith was looking for other ways to utilize the building.
“It was about a year or two that we didn’t do a whole lot with it,” he said. “We were renting part of it out and using some of it for our own storage. Last year, in the spring, we were recognizing the need for a maintenance facility for our shop up there. We were going back and forth about not really wanting to build and just kind of looking at this. We threw out the idea of what can we do with this place and just started throwing around ideas.”
The need for a large building to use for maintaining trucks was addressed.
“We actually had our mechanics working outside in our other shop,” said Phil Smith, president of Smith Trucking. “In the winter time around here, you can’t work outside. If we have an accident with a truck, we can bring it in here and it can sit and we can fix it as we go.”
“Being in Minnesota, there’s something to be said for being able to have a place to put something that can sit when it needs to sit,” Mike Smith added.
The building is just less than 25,000 square feet, so room wasn’t an issue. However, some updates were needed. One key feature was the installation of furnaces that will use waste oil from the trucks to heat the building.
“A lot of the remodeling was just updating lights, the door, the filtration system and getting the air set up for the air tools,” Mike Smith said. “We have a driver’s lounge so when the drivers come down, they have a place to sit. We have drivers who live all over the country, so they just can’t go home when they are here. We have a spot for them to go and hang out while trucks are being worked on.”
Another area added was a room for parts.
“We added a parts room. We kind of did a little remodeling in here and brought all of our parts,” Mike Smith said. “This is what we consider our main parts room for all the parts for tractors and trailers. We just take what we need from here up to our other shop. Our other shop is just a light maintenance shop.”
Being able to utilize the existing building helped keep the cost lower than by building an entire new structure.
“How it’s affected our business is it’s allowed us to have some of that growth without having that big investment,” Mike Smith said. “Buildings don’t make you money. That’s what it’s allowed us to do, it’s allowed us to expand the square footage of our facilities.”
And with all the good things going on within the company, Mike Smith knows it’s the people who made it grow.
“We wouldn’t be what we are without the good people we have working for us,” he said. “It’s not by our own intelligence or doing that we’ve been successful. It’s been the people and the drivers.
“We’ve been extremely blessed by God with everything; the safety we’ve been able to attain as far as our drivers and accidents on the road.”
On Wednesday, Smith had an open house to show off their new building.
“The biggest reason we wanted to have the open house is to let people know we’re here and what we’re doing down here,” Mike Smith said.
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Coordinator Aaron Hagen may be reached at 376-7323.