By Charles Cyrill, ATD/NADA Director of Public Relations
TYSONS, Va. – Kim Mesfin, president of Affinity Truck Center in Fresno, Calif., is one of six nominees for 2019 Truck Dealer of the Year – a national award that recognizes commercial-truck dealers for industry leadership, business performance and community service.
“It’s quite stunning to have been nominated for the award. My father, James Pollack, was nominated in 1982, and I have always admired him for that achievement,” said Mesfin, a second-generation dealer. “It’s exceptionally humbling to be considered among the other dealer nominees.”
Affinity Truck Center, originally Central Valley Truck Center, was founded by Mesfin’s father and his business partner in 1987. The dealership group, which includes Mack, Volvo and Autocar franchises, has grown since the economic downturn in 2008 from 58 employees to 133 employees today at two dealership locations in Fresno, Calif., and Bakersfield, Calif., and Paso Robles Truck Center in Paso Robles, Calif., and Edwards Truck Center in Salinas, Calif. (both parts and service centers.)
“My father is one of my greatest influences and role models,” added Mesfin, who hopes to pave the way for others to follow in her footsteps in an industry with few female role models. “From a young age he was involved in my life and has been one of my greatest supporters throughout my entire journey. He encouraged me to trust in my abilities.”
In 2017, Mesfin and her brother, Kent Pollack, acquired the outstanding shares from their business partner.
In her community, Mesfin is passionate about providing educational opportunities to students who are considering careers in the heavy-duty truck industry. In the Central Valley area, she serves on the advisory board at Clovis High School, Duncan Polytechnic High School and Fresno City College.
Affinity Truck Center was the first dealership to arrange a partnership with Mack and Volvo, Procede Software and Fresno City College’s heavy-duty truck program. Procede Software donates laptops and servers to the college to train students using current dealership software.
“It’s an honor to provide these opportunities to students who are interested in this field, and I hope to inspire those who are just beginning their careers. I encourage every dealer in our industry to develop similar programs in their communities,” Mesfin added. “We are having great success training high school and trade school graduates through our in-house technician apprentice program, which includes mentoring by a senior technician who provides daily feedback, weekly written progress reports and a thorough review every 90 days.”
Along with her involvement in local educational programs, Mesfin serves on the board of review for the Boy Scouts of America, local Troop 354, which interviews scouts for advancement.
“Organizations like this help inspire future leaders and instill honorable values into young people as they grow and mature,” she said. “We have found great success in hiring employees that have earned their Eagle Scout rank.”
Affinity Truck Center also donates funds each year to the Boy Scouts of America Sequoia Council, which supports the local troops in Fresno, Madera, Tulare and Kings counties.
“Commercial trucking is one of the most important industries in California, especially here in the Central Valley,” Mesfin added. “It really is an honor serving those around me, and I hope to remain supportive well into the future.”
Affinity Truck Center is a member of the American Truck Dealers (ATD), ATD 20 Group, California Trucking Association, Used Truck Association and Fresno Transportation Club. The dealership was awarded a top-10 ranking out of 120 businesses nominated for the 2018 California Family Business Awards presented by Fresno State University’s Craig School of Business.
The national Truck Dealer of the Year award is sponsored by ATD, Heavy Duty Trucking magazine and Procede Software.
The other nominees are David Kriete, Kriete Truck Centers, Milwaukee, Wis.; Terry Minor, Cumberland International Trucks, Nashville, Tenn.; Harry Moyer, Lowe and Moyer Garage, Fogelsville, Pa.; Trey Mytty, Truck Center Companies, Omaha, Neb.; and John Nichols, Palmer Kenworth, Indianapolis, Ind.
The nominees were selected by ATD board members and dealer association executives. Professors from Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business in Bloomington, Ind., will evaluate the nominees based on dealership performance, industry leadership and community service.
The winner and runner-up will be announced on Saturday, Jan. 26, 2019, during the 56th annual ATD Show in San Francisco, which runs concurrently with the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) Show from Thursday, Jan. 24, through Sunday, Jan. 27.
ATD, a division of NADA, represents more than 1,800 heavy- and medium-duty truck dealerships in the U.S.
For more information about ATD Show 2019, visit atdshow.org.
This is the second article in a six-part series featuring the nominees for 2019 Truck Dealer of the Year.