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Custom Truck One Source Now a $1B Company, as featured by Kansas City Business Journal

Custom Truck One Source Now a $1B Company, as featured by Kansas City Business Journal

Six siblings drew inspiration from their grandfather and started Custom Truck One Source in 1996 with 15 employees. The Kansas City-based builder and supplier of custom specialty work trucks has since grown to 1,700 employees, and last year, it reached $1 billion in revenue for the first time.

“It just creates a tremendous sense of pride that’s almost surreal,” Custom Truck CEO and co-founder Fred Ross said. “Sometimes it’s hard to picture where we started and where we’ve landed at this point. I never thought that I would be the founder and CEO of a billion-dollar company. When I was going through school and growing up, that was never a thought on my mind.”

The accomplishment puts Custom Truck on a short list of private Kansas City-area companies with that much revenue. Last year, just 11 companies on the Kansas City Business Journal’s most recent Private Companies List reported $1 billion in revenue.

But Ross doesn’t plan to idle around the $1 billion mark. He envisions the company eventually will triple or quadruple in size.

Custom Truck’s headquarters in Kansas City’s Historic Northeast neighborhood sits on the former Armco Steel site and overlooks the neighborhood in which the Ross siblings grew up. Their grandfather’s first gas station was less than a mile away down the street, and it pained the siblings to watch the once bustling Armco plant shutter years ago and become a site littered with dilapidated structures. But through the years, the Ross family renovated the old warehouses and gave the site a new purpose. The family now owns about 150 acres.

“So it’s really a story about a neighborhood family and a company that revitalized what was a very blighted area, which was Armco Steel,” Ross said.

Custom Truck employs about 650 people at its headquarters, but within two years, Ross expects that number will reach nearly 800. The company also will add 100 employees companywide this year, and new hires will span administration, rental fleet, factory installers and mechanics. But Ross thinks the job creation will extend beyond Custom Truck and bolster the head counts of its supplier partners.

From 2016 to 2018, Custom Truck’s average annual revenue growth was 34.26%, which ranked 47th on KCBJ’s 50 Fastest-Growing Companies List. In 2018, its revenue ballooned to $858.87 million, making it the area’s 13th-largest private company.
“It’s remarkable (growth),” COO Ryan McMonagle said. “Where we get so excited is in how much continued growth we see. … We just see much more opportunity to go deeper in all of the product categories where we currently take care of customers.”
That opportunity includes targeting new customers as well as selling more products and services to existing customers, McMonagle said. Custom Truck has become a “one-stop shop,” which is catapulting growth, he said.

Wholly owned subsidiary Load King LLC, for example, acquired the boom truck, crossover and truck crane product lines of Connecticut-based manufacturer Terex Corp. last year. The product lines were produced in Oklahoma City, but those operations have since transitioned to Custom Truck’s Kansas City headquarters, which brought the manufacturing in-house. Custom Truck also sells, rents and services its equipment.
“When we weren’t able to offer customers what we thought were the products of tomorrow in the time that we promised them, that’s when we made the move to become the manufacturer of the products ourselves,” Custom Truck Marketing Director Molly Loehr said.

Custom Truck has been a problem-solver for clients and has continued to look for avenues to accommodate them and help them return to the road faster, Loehr said.

When customers began struggling after the 2008 recession, Custom Truck began offering equipment rentals and started installing equipment on used trucks to help clients with tight budgets. It also has stayed abreast of other clients needs, including desired vehicle capabilities.

Unlike other competitors, Custom Truck can build trucks “at the speed of business,” versus a typical supply chain that may take six months, Ross said.

The CEO also was quick to credit employees for the company’s success. They’re problem solvers with a desire to win who will do whatever it takes to get the job done, Ross said.
“I like to say Kansas City had a Super Bowl team before the Chiefs just won. We were the Super Bowl team for trucks in Kansas City and around the country,” he said.
Custom Truck is gearing up for the renovation of its fifth building on the former Armco site to bolster manufacturing capacity for its crane and boom trucks.

It also started shipping equipment overseas for the first time about three months ago. The company rekindled relationships with former Terex customers and has since shipped equipment to Mexico, Canada and South America. Next on the list is delivering a truck crane order for a customer in Egypt.
“This is a big deal to us that we are a worldwide manufacturer now,” Ross said. “(We’re) able to compete on the world stage.”

Original Article: By Leslie Collins-Reporter, Kansas City Business Journal
Mar 2, 2020, 2:48 PM CST Updated Mar 2, 2020, 3:11 PM CST