On Wednesday of this week, I had the occasion to travel to Rush Truck Center of Houston, part of the Rush Enterprises group, for a press conference and celebration for selling the 1,000th Hino medium-duty truck out of the dealership.
My compatriots here at Fleet Owner, with many more years of experience in the industry than I, know the Rush family – both Marvin and his son Rusty as well as some of the employees associated with their varied businesses – from their dealings in the past. This was my first chance to meet the Rushes.
Boy, was I impressed. I have interviewed Hall of Fame basketball players, football players, governors and presidential candidates (one of my best experiences ever following the 1996 New Hampshire presidential primaries, but I digress). And while speaking only briefly with Marvin Rush, and at greater length with Rusty about their business shows you what kind of knowledge they have, it was the conversations with some of their employees that really showed what kind of people they are.
If you listen to them, there can’t be many better people to work for than the Rushes. And it must be true, because this coming Wednesday, Rush Truck Centers will mark 45 years in business. You don’t get that far in business without having good people skills.
“None of this would be possible without dedicated employees and a strong corporate culture,” Marvin said during his time at the podium. Rusty echoed those same thoughts.
But it was what others told me that made the difference to me. Rusty, for one, despite all his responsibilities as president & CEO of a 50-plus dealership operation, still takes time each month to hold conference calls with managers at each of the dealerships. The calls, said Karen Konecny, corporate marketing director, take three days to complete.
Yet he does it anyway.
National sales coordinator and corporate marketing coordinator Carolina Overstreet (who, by the way, stayed on top of my myriad of flight delays in getting to Houston - thank you Carolina), mentioned that one of the nicest things about the Rushes is when they visit a facility, they take the time to walk around and greet all the employees. They don’t have to do that (I know that from previous stops in my career – thankfully not here at Fleet Owner’s parent Penton Media, I might add - where executives would visit and if you didn’t move out of the way in the hallway, they would walk right over you). But they do.
Do they know all the 2,400-plus employees by name? That would be virtually impossible for anyone, I believe. But, do they remember details about many of their employees, like how many kids they have? Do they remember to ask how that vacation they took turned out? They sure do.
When I first walked into the Houston dealership, the idea of home hit me right away. Instead of walking into a drab room with a counter, like so many places, the first things you see are the chairs and couch. Nice touches. Kind of makes the customer think “this is a place that cares about me.”
I guess that all starts at the top.