By Leslie Collins – Staff Writer, Kansas City Business Journal
Mar 31, 2022 Updated Mar 31, 2022, 2:33pm CDT
Custom Truck One Source is embarking on a sizable expansion project at its Kansas City headquarters.
The builder and supplier of custom specialty work trucks is renovating a former Armco Steel building onsite, which will add about 220,000 square feet in the next 12 months. The expansion will create 100 new local jobs over the next two years in roles such as managers, supervisors, welders, fabricators and painters. The company, which went public last year, employs 1,988 companywide, including 742 in Kansas City.
To keep pace with customer demand, Custom Truck also will add between 20 and 30 employees this year to cover second shift operations.
“We have seen so much demand for our product, and it’s a great problem to have to be able to think about how can we build the number of trucks our customers are asking for?” Custom Truck COO Ryan McMonagle said.
Demand is coming from multiple industries, including Custom Truck’s biggest market, utility, which comprises 60% of its revenue. More transmission projects are popping up for upgrading the power grid to accommodate electric vehicle charging stations, and those projects need the equipment that Custom Truck provides.
Custom Truck’s rental fleet also has doubled in size since Nesco Holdings Inc. acquired the Kansas City company last year in April.
“There’s just a need for even more equipment, a lot of which is built here in Kansas City,” he said.
Over the past two years, Custom Truck has made “significant” investments in research and development, which has led to five new cranes debuting on the market. More new products are in the pipeline, said Ben Link, executive vice president of supply chain and production.
The expansion not only plays into Custom Truck’s research and development focus, it also allows the company to rely less on outside vendors and bring more painting and fabrication operations in-house. Another component of the expansion will serve the company’s parts, tools and accessories business.
“Our last major investment increased our output here about three times. That’s what we’re on pace to achieve this year. This paves the way for us to continue that growth,” Link said. “(This expansion) gives us control of our destiny.”
Including the cost of new equipment, the expansion and renovation project will range between $15- to- $20 million, Kansas City Operations Manager Chris Ross said.
Ross’ family, who founded the business, grew up in Kansas City’s Historic Northeast neighborhood, about eight blocks from the former Armco Steel plant, where Custom Truck now resides. Part of the family’s mission has been to revitalize the former steel plant site and give the area in which they grew up an economic boost. The new owners are pushing ahead with what the Ross siblings started, he said.
Last year, Custom Truck reported $1.16 billion in annual revenue. On Friday, about 30 employees will be in New York to ring the bell for the first time at the New York Stock Exchange. A mix of executives and a sampling of employees from throughout the U.S. will attend.
Ross recalled what his brother and CEO Fred Ross said about the coming trip: “It’s a surreal thing to see something that basically started from nothing – truck salvage to used truck sales to the national presence we now have.”
To start the business, the Ross siblings drew inspiration from their grandfather, who owned a local gas station and tow service called Falco’s Texaco service. Fred Ross worked at Falco’s, pumping gas, towing trucks and changing oil.
“To ring the bell himself at the New York Stock Exchange is pretty mind boggling. I think that kind of wraps up what we’re all feeling,” Chris Ross said. “I’m worried about what to wear. I’ve never been to New York even. It is a big deal. It’s hard for most of the family to comprehend.”