Utility One Source was formed in 2015 when an American multinational asset management company, The Blackstone Group, invested in three family-owned heavy equipment businesses. By March 2018, Utility One Source had changed its name to Custom Truck One Source and acquired an additional five equipment companies.
Today, Custom Truck One Source is comprised of seven family-operated businesses – Utility Fleet Sales, Custom Truck & Equipment, Forestry Equipment of Virginia, TNT Equipment, North American Equipment Upfitters, UCO Equipment and Equipment Repair Solutions – along with a customizable trailer manufacturer, Load King. Offering sales, rentals, aftermarket parts and service, equipment customization, remanufacturing, financing solutions, and asset disposal, Custom Truck One Source is a single-source provider of specialized truck and heavy equipment solutions for all heavy equipment markets, including construction, agriculture and mining. The company boasts full-service locations in every single region of the United States and recently expanded into Canada.
A lot has happened in the three short years since Custom Truck One Source was founded (as Utility One Source). Just what is behind the company’s rapid growth and expansion?
“I believe the customer is driving Custom Truck One Source’s growth,” said Don Pratt, the company’s training and development director. “Companies need and want a supplier who responds quickly to the constant changes in the markets. They want to work directly with a single source. When companies want to cut manufacturing costs and get what they want, Custom Truck One Source is their choice.”
While customer demand and the ability to meet customers’ needs certainly plays a role in Custom Truck One Source’s success, that isn’t all the company has going for it. Custom Truck One Source has an invaluable tool that many dealerships in the heavy equipment industry lack: a dedicated training and development director like Don Pratt.
Pratt has 35 years of experience in the heavy equipment industry and was even involved with AED’s educational arm at one point. When he joined the team at Custom One Truck Source just a couple of years back, the company had no training program to speak of and wasn’t even equipped to track employee training. That has all changed, thanks to Pratt and his team. He developed a four-level training and development program that works to recruit students at high schools and colleges.
“We’re focusing on workforce development and going into schools to find the technicians we need. Really, we’re doing all the things that AED has always encouraged. It’s important for people to understand that technician development programs don’t start when the technician is in the dealership and you’re training them; it needs to start much earlier. If you recruit potential technicians out of high school, you can use aptitude assessments to select the ones with the most promise. If you can grow technicians from the beginning, that grass is green. If you don’t, and you just try to bring people in from other companies, you’re not going to get the same results.”
Pratt and Custom Truck One Source are definitely getting results. The company currently has approximately 160 technicians, has already completed more than 100 technician skills assessments and plans to double that number in the near future. Several of Custom Truck One Source’s technicians have also been certified through The AED Foundation’s Certified Technician Program.
“I would encourage companies to have a dedicated training and development director that has an understanding of workforce development,” Pratt said. “The AED playbook has all the best practices and AED is a great resource for dealers. AED is such a great resource; I really don’t know how companies can do it alone. As an industry, we have to all work together to overcome the technician shortage – we can’t be off in our own little worlds. We need to continue to find new ways to attract people to work in our industry.”
For more information on Custom Truck One Source, visit www.customtruck.com.