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Rochester Top 100: New technology drives growth at DeCarolis

Rochester Business Journal
December 4, 2015

DeCarolis Truck Rental Inc. has used improved technology, and customers’ reluctance to embrace it, as the basis of its growth strategy over the last several years.

“Changes in the industry with challenges with new equipment and technologies have made leasing more advantageous for customers who cannot keep up with the changes and are looking for a provider to handle their needs,” DeCarolis’ President Michael Margarone said.

DeCarolis is in the business of truck and trailer rental and leasing. It also offers parts and service, as well as a local busing program for roughly 500 students through Monroe School Transportation Inc.

The company employs 566 people at seven facilities in Upstate New York, with the majority at its Emerson Street headquarters. Although Margarone declined to discuss revenues, he said growth over the last three years has averaged from 10 to 15 percent annually.

“We have basically grown organically,” Margarone said. “We have always had a strong focus on sales and added sales staff in each division.”

DeCarolis was founded in 1938 by Louis DeCarolis Sr., who bought a truck and used it to transport laborers to and from fields. Before long he was being asked to start hauling produce and other products, and thus was born DeCarolis Trucking Co.

DeCarolis’ early focus was heavy-duty trucking and outside repairs, with the occasional equipment rental. The business grew quickly with the addition of a truck stop, a Diamond Reo truck dealership, a Thermo King Refrigeration franchise and a rental and leasing company. Louis DeCarolis Sr. died in 1961 and was succeeded by two sons, Louis Jr. and Paul.

Tragedy struck five years later when Louis was killed in a plane crash. His brother came out of the shop to assume the presidency, continuing his father’s and brother’s progressive thinking and determination to become a leader in transportation services.

In 1968 DeCarolis began to phase out much of the sales and outside service business to concentrate exclusively on rental and full-service leasing. In 1987 DeCarolis opened a branch in Buffalo and the following year opened a facility in Syracuse. DeCarolis continues on in the company his father built, serving as chairman and owner.

“Our ability to grow has been a function of our vision, our management, our people and market conditions that make DeCarolis Truck Rental and our full-service lease services a definite advantage for companies that are currently running their own trucks,” said Patrick Herron, vice president of sales. “We try to be the Wegmans of the truck rental and lease business in terms of providing as many in-house services as we can.”

A relatively flat management structure has helped the company with its flexibility, Herron said.

“Day-to-day top management is among five people,” he explained. “We’re a small management team so we can make decisions quickly.”

The biggest challenges the industry and the company face are shortages of qualified diesel technicians and drivers, Herron and Margarone said.

“There is a shortage in the industry that not only affects us as a company, but it is a problem for the entire industry,” Margarone said, adding that new technology that has made engines more efficient and reduced emissions has been plagued with problems. “This continues to be a challenge in controlling costs and reducing vehicle downtime for our customers.”

Margarone, who has been with the company nearly three decades, said the work atmosphere, the industry and the daily challenges of running DeCarolis are what keeps the job interesting.

Challenges aside, the outlook for DeCarolis is optimistic, Margarone said.

“I think you will see us add staff consistent with what we have done over the past three years: slow and steady,” he said. “The future is positive as we continue to see strong demand for our offerings in the markets we serve. We will continue to use the formula that has enabled us to enjoy growth and look for opportunities that fit our business model.”

The Rochester Top 100 program is presented by the Rochester Business Alliance Inc. and KPMG LLP. Launched in 1987, it recognizes the fastest-growing private companies in Greater Rochester. The 2016 Rochester Top 100 event will be held Nov. 2. For more information, go to rochesterbusinessalliance.com.

DeCarolis Truck Rental Inc.
Full-service truck rental and leasing, service, parts sales and student transportation
Year founded: 1938
2015 ranking: 85
Top executive: Michael Margarone, president
Current employment: 560
Headquarters: Rochester
Website: decarolis.com

12/4/15 (c) 2015 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email service@rbj.net.


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