For Kriete Truck Centers, Stewardship Drives Success

When David Kriete, President and CEO of Kriete Truck Centers, talks about his organization, his respect for history and enthusiasm for people is clear: “Kriete Truck Centers is a nearly 70-year-old organization. It was founded by my grandfather in 1951. Henry Kriete was a Vice President for Mack Trucks in the 30s and 40s, and when the opportunity came to buy out a factory-owned branch in Milwaukee, he moved with his wife and son from New York to Wisconsin. Sixty years later, I purchased the company from my dad and have expanded the business to include four truck brands—Mack, Volvo, Hino, and Fuso—as well as a trailer and body line, Cross Country Manufacturing.”

Although Kriete Truck Centers has grown to include almost 450 employees, eight dealer locations throughout Wisconsin, a large truck and trailer lease-rental company, and a corporate team of more than 30 employees, family remains central to the business. As Kriete explains, “The company operates very much as a family-owned operation, with stewardship, empathy, and a principle of genuine dignity for each employee at the foundation of business decision-making. If Kriete Truck Centers is simply motivated by selling products to its customers and prospects, then the company has failed. The goal is to genuinely invest in the people—customers and employees—that associate with us.”

Industry Leadership Means a Commitment to Stewardship
By any measure, Kriete Truck Centers is an industry leader. The organization has been honored with a number of awards, including being named Mack Trucks’ 2018 North American Dealer of the Year. When asked what it means to be an industry leader, without skipping a beat, Kriete returns to the subject of stewardship, saying, “Stewardship. Plain and simple. Being a leader in the industry means accepting that profitability isn’t always our top priority. We need to be willing to invest human capital and dollars to help our business partners, our OEMs, and our dealer colleagues to improve.”

In practice, this means participating in OEM-led pilot programs that, if successful, will be rolled out to other dealers. As Kriete puts it, “We are kings of pilot programs! It takes a lot of time and human capital to ensure we’re using these programs daily and can figure it out. But if it’s good for OEMs, it will be good for us downstream, so we’re willing to jump in and help out.” Kriete is also very active in 20 groups, saying, “I’ve chaired one for several years. It’s important to share in best practices and contribute to future innovation.”

Beyond stewardship, Kriete also maintains that “Driving to create best-in-class systems, processes and overall culture are what’s expected out of an industry leader. At Kriete Truck Centers, we will do whatever it takes to be easy to do business with and to be a great neighbor and business partner. It’s our obligation.”

A Forward-Thinking Partner with a User-Friendly System
Kriete and team spent the better part of five years assessing different DMS provider options. Kriete describes what they were looking for, explaining, “Fundamentally, we were looking for a business partner, not a business system. Experiencing the culture of the available DMS providers was a key way to understand the company we would want to work with during implementation and for many years to come. Working with a team that had a vision of the long-term and how to collaborate on future business needs was really important.”

In the end, the decision to go with Procede Software’s Excede DMS solution was driven in part by both the collaborative nature of the Procede team and the usability of the system. Kriete explains, “Procede’s leadership team impressed me by the high-energy, upbeat, and positive culture they have built. In addition, the Excede DMS system was by far the most user-friendly and straightforward system we explored. Having a DMS that is easy to use and easy to train new employees on creates operational efficiency gains.”

Access to data was also a contributing factor in Kriete’s decision. “A dealer’s DMS is the single source for all the vital data that, when analyzed and manipulated properly and professionally, can make the greatest impact on daily management,” said Kriete. “Being able to easily access and use the data built up in the DMS is absolutely critical. Every individual and team we’ve worked with at Procede has a willingness to work together and to seek a new, better way to process and understand our business’ data.”

Mack/Volvo certification was another draw for the Kriete Trucks team. As Kriete explains, “A partnership with our key business partners is paramount. Procede not only carries a Mack/Volvo certification but has also committed to a forward-thinking relationship with our OEMs on a strategic level. Projects to better Kriete and strengthen information and data sharing between dealer and OEM are important, and it became evident that Procede had the appetite and horsepower to tackle initiatives like this. Collaborating to build easier systems with seamless integrations was a major part of our decision to select Procede as our DMS business partner.”

Kriete wraps up his thoughts on what he and his team were looking for in a DMS by saying, “Partnering with a DMS company that aims to collaborate, grow, and act as an innovator and business partner produces next-level opportunities.”

A Successful Implementation Is All in the Preparation
When asked what his advice would be for other dealers facing the implementation of a new DMS, Kriete explains, “It’s all in the preparation. Our team, starting from the top, took preparation very seriously. We were fully aligned and ready to tackle the inevitable hiccups as they occurred. It’s so easy when you’re several months out to skip a call. You also need to share data as early as possible and not put it off. As hard as it may be to do things early, it really is necessary.” According to Kriete, Procede Software also played a role in their preparedness, “They challenged us to be as prepared as possible, and we are grateful for the persistence in ensuring our readiness.”

The Kriete Truck Center team and their sense of stewardship were also central to success. Kriete notes, “We had several people on our team who rose to the occasion, including Mark Peters, our Head of IT, who led the implementation. We had internal champions in every department—accounting, data analysis, sales—who went above and beyond to ensure success for themselves and the team.”

Kriete continued, “The concept of stewardship is so important to myself and my team. Everyone worked extremely hard for themselves and for the betterment of the team to champion their own department and be good cross-functional stewards.”

A Virtual Transition that Exceeded Expectations
There were some special circumstances surrounding the implementation at Kriete Truck Centers—the COVID-19 pandemic necessitated a fully remote process. Kriete described the experiences by saying, “No implementation is easy. During a global pandemic in which face-to-face, hands-on meetings are limited or non-existent, an implementation could be impossible. Fortunately, Procede Software was able to utilize virtual solutions to solve for any obstacles. Our teams were able to speak with and ‘see’ in real time anything a hands-on trainer would have been able to do while on-site.” Kriete continued, “Across nine locations our teams were online and using Excede DMS, while also talking to and watching Procede’s professionals and our other locations’ team members. As questions arose, help could be given immediately.”

Kriete summed up his thoughts around the remote implementation: “It was definitely a situation we were nervous for, but in the end the virtual team supporting our transition was really best-in-class and exceeded our expectations.”

A Best-in-Class Partnership
“While we took over five years to determine who the best DMS provider was it is now very clear to me and my team that Procede operates as best-in-class in all critical areas. Changing one’s business system is just not an easy task. However, the planning, preparation, and ultimate implementation are worth it when you can count on many years in the future to collaborate and seek best-in-class results. We did our due diligence and Procede is the business partner we choose to grow with for many years to come.”

For all of us at Procede Software, it is indeed an honor to be selected by Kriete Truck Centers as their DMS partner and to have worked with them on the implementation. Truly, their commitment to stewardship—toward their employees, customers, and partners like us—is present in everything they do. We look forward to partnering closely with Kriete Truck Centers—as we do with all our customers—to help them get the most out of Excede DMS and to being a good steward of their continued success.