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New ideas fuel Chili firm’s road to growth

Rochester Business Journal
January 6, 2017

The Evans family can attest to what resilience, hard work and new concepts can do for a business.

When Michael Evans stepped in to help his parents run Tuf Trucks and Fine Cars a few years ago, he saw that, while successful, the family business needed some renewed energy and fresh ideas. He previously had worked at the family business, but left around 2007 to pursue other opportunities.

“When I came back into the picture, we decided to implement a new style of doing business, bringing in more experienced people to sell, training our mechanics to do the repairs more efficiently and more thoroughly,” said Evans, the Chili used-truck dealership’s general manager. “And overall, putting a new look on the building and the entire business.”

The family spent nearly $100,000 on the building’s facade and added a 10,000-square-foot indoor showroom. Since Evans returned to the family business in 2012, Tuf Trucks has experienced double-digit percentage sales growth. From 2014 to 2015, revenue grew nearly 57 percent, while company staff has grown from eight in 2013 to 14 now.

Evans expects the workforce to increase soon as he adds two to four salespeople and support staff.

“Our biggest move that we’re going to be looking at in the next two to three years is finding a new location that’s more suited for a dealership,” Evans said. “The location we have right now is an older warehouse with a storefront and our parking is very limited. So we’ve got our eyes open for an actual, established dealership.”

Tuf Trucks’ roots go back decades, when Evans’ parents, Jean and Patrick Evans, moved to Rochester from Tennessee and started a small car dealership. At one point the Evanses operated an airport in Brockport, selling and servicing aircraft.

When interest rates climbed in the early 1980s, they found the aircraft market too difficult to manage and moved into transportation services. Tiffany Transportation Services Ltd. at one time was the area’s largest limousine and motor coach company, but following 9/11 the bottom dropped out of the transportation business.

The company just had purchased a large building to service motor coaches when the industry tanked, so to pay for the building the Evanses opted to shift gears and return to their roots.

“We had to get back into something we could survive with,” Patrick Evans recalled. “Having been in the car business since 1966, we started to concentrate heavily on that.”

The elder Evans said the family’s used-truck business was growing, but slowly, until their son returned to the company.

“He had a lot of new ideas that seemed to work,” Evans said. “He took chances I wouldn’t have taken because over the years I’ve seen the ups and downs. I’ve seen the profits and losses, and I’ve seen the bottom drop out and I’m a lot more cautious.”

Indeed, Michael Evans said his parents always had come out ahead, despite the many challenges they endured in their enterprises.

“Always devoting their life to this business,” he noted, “when you’ve got three or four years that have been so great, nobody thinks of those times when they had difficulty paying their mortgage because things were slow.”

The company’s founder said he does not foresee many challenges with his son at the helm, but he is guarded when it comes to the cyclical nature of the automotive industry and how the economy affects it.

“Things that affect this type of business are going to be global,” Evans said, noting events such as 9/11, interest rate hikes and increased fuel costs.

His son agreed interest rates can and will have a detrimental effect on Tuf Trucks sales.

“Financing is a major part of our business,” he said. “If interest rates go up, it’s going to make payments go up, which makes it more difficult for people to buy expensive trucks.”

Evans said he sees two other issues within the industry—a lack of qualified technicians and competition among dealers getting into the used-truck market—but at the moment he is not terribly concerned about it.

“That’s our niche, and it’s been our niche for a number of years,” he said. “Thank goodness we’re established in the business and people know our name. People like to come back to us.”


The Rochester Chamber Top 100 program is presented by the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce and KPMG LLP. Launched in 1987, it recognizes the fastest-growing private companies in Greater Rochester. The 2017 Rochester Top 100 event is slated to be held Nov. 2. For more information, go to greaterrochesterchamber.com.

Tuf Trucks and Fine

Cars, a dba of Tiffany Transportation Services Ltd.

Pre-owned truck dealership

Year founded: 1978

Top executive: Jean Evans, owner

Current employment: 14

2016 ranking: 58

Headquarters: Chili

Website: tuftrucksandfinecars.com

1/6/2017 (c) 2017 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email service@rbj.net.
 


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