When Dale Klopcic, operations manager for Grand Rapids, Mich.-based West Side Beer Distributing, wanted to build his fleet, he had his local dealer bring a few different truck brands and models to his facility. Then, instead of taking them for a spin himself, he asked his drivers to test the trucks out on their normal delivery routes.
“I don’t spend my days in the trucks - my drivers do,” said Klopcic. “We work as a team here, so I wanted to know what the guys thought. They all picked Sterling hands down.”
This democratic approach is one of the reasons Klopcic says he’s been able to reduce driver turnover and retain West Side’s status as the largest beer wholesaler in western Michigan. Running a 100 percent Sterling fleet, West Side delivers almost five million cases a year to more than 1,000 customers, including Meijer, Inc., Sam’s Club, Costco and more.
“The drivers picked Sterling because of its roomy cab, comfy seats, and improved visibility,” said Klopcic. “We’ve been buying them for 10 years now.”
West Side has certainly come a long way since Klopcic’s uncle started Don Lee Distributors, Inc. in 1963.
Klopcic started in to the business at a young age by sweeping floors, washing trucks and doing other odd jobs.
After graduating from college, Klopcic began full time at Don Lee Distributors in sales and then took on other positions including office manager and assistant general manager before moving to Grand Rapids in 1995 to take on his current job as operations manager at West Side.
“It’s been exciting helping the family business grow,” said Klopcic.
In operations, Klopcic oversees a fleet of 35 trucks, which is comprised of 31 Acterra® tractors and four Set-Back A-Line tandem axle tractors. Klopcic also just ordered a Sterling 360™ for non-alcoholic beverage division Allied Brands. Decked out with custom graphics, the truck will be dedicated to selling Monster Energy drink.
Every West Side truck is spec’d with an automatic transmission, AirRide suspension, intermittent wipers and a premium interior – a few things Klopcic said his drivers specifically requested.
“When you’re spending eight to 10 hours a day in a truck, comfort options are important,” said Klopcic. “By adding features that make their jobs easier, my drivers enjoy coming to work that much more.”
In addition to providing comfortable and reliable trucks for his drivers, Klopcic also takes pride in running a relatively new fleet. He generally turns his fleet over every six years, purchasing five trucks per year from his dealer, Duthler Trucks in Wyoming, Mich.
“Half of the reason I’m so loyal to Sterling is because of Duthler,” Klopcic said. “We’ve been working with them since 1988, and our contacts there have always been a reliable and knowledgeable resource that knows our business and helps ensure our trucks stay on the road.”
Sterling Truck Corporation, based in Redford, Mich., produces and markets a full line of Class 3-8 work trucks for regional hauling and diverse vocational applications. Sterling is a subsidiary of Freightliner LLC. Freightliner LLC produces and markets Class 3-8 vehicles and is part of DaimlerChrysler’s Truck Group, the world's leading commercial vehicle manufacturer.