By Sheryll Poe, NADA Contributor

Tim Mitchell, President of Motor Truck Equipment Company/Kenworth of Pennsylvania in Carlisle, Pa., is one of five nominees for 2020 Truck Dealer of the Year – a national award that recognizes commercial-truck dealers for industry leadership, business performance and community service.

“Let me start by recognizing how truly blessed I am to be a part of this wonderful industry,” said Mitchell, a third-generation dealer and a 2001 graduate of the American Truck Dealers (ATD) Academy in Tysons, Va. “Although I can point to many areas of the business that have given me satisfaction over the years, the most rewarding has been helping others grow within our industry.”

Mitchell grew up around his grandfather’s dealership, sweeping floors in the parts department while still in high school. He stayed with the company through college, starting as a technician in 1991 and working his way through the ranks to learn all aspects of the business before becoming president of the company in 2015. “My grandfather and father always said, ‘you start from the bottom if you want to work for the company,’” Mitchell said.

Since the Mitchell family became active in the dealership in the 1960s, Kenworth of Pennsylvania has grown from three dealerships to 10 locations across the state, including five full service dealerships, four parts and service locations and one TRP wholesale truck part facility. The key to the company’s success, Mitchell said, is employee longevity: 35% of employees have been with the company for more than 10 years and 15% have been with the company for over 20 years.

“As a general rule of thumb, most businesses are in decline after the third generation takes over,” Mitchell added. “I’m proud to say that we avoided that trend. We’ve opened three new locations since I’ve taken the helm and business has grown exponentially during that time period.”

Mitchell is an active member of the Pennsylvania Truck Dealers, serving on the board since 2012, and working on legislative, regulatory and industry-related issues that impact truck dealers across the state. During his years of participation, PTD has sponsored legislation on dealer plate usage requirements for commercial trucks, adjusted the timetable for buyback of inventory and created lemon law protections.

Kenworth of Pennsylvania donates an average of $40,000 yearly to a variety of non-profit organizations, including a yearly Christmas toy drive for New Hope Ministries, and an annual contribution to the Good Samaritan Hospital. Kenworth of Pennsylvania has been recognized as a Children’s Miracle Network Miracle Partner for several years running.

Mitchell is particularly focused on helping students and future technicians get hand-on experience with the latest industry technology, donating trucks to diesel technician programs at Johnson College, Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology, Pennsylvania College of Technology, and the Mechanicsburg School District. As a result, Johnson College named Mitchell its’ Industry Person of the Year for 2019 and Pennsylvania College of Technology named him to the Ambassador Society in 2019.

“When visiting technical schools in our area, I noticed that students were working on aged equipment that wasn’t consistent with today’s technology. I made it my mission to help ensure that students got experience with current equipment that incorporated an after treatment system,” Mitchell said. “My goal for the future is to ensure that the curriculum at our technical schools is aligned with the rapid technological changes happening within our industry.”

The national Truck Dealer of the Year award is sponsored by ATD, Heavy Duty Trucking magazine and Procede Software.

The other nominees are Oscar Horton from Sun State International Trucks, LLC in Tampa, Fla., Thomas “Lance” Wilson from General Truck Sales & Service, Inc. in Memphis, Tenn., Jim Bland from TranSource, Inc. in Greensboro, N.C., and Scott Pearson from Peterbilt of Atlanta in Jackson, Ga.

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 Sunday, Feb. 16, 2020, during the 57th annual ATD Show in Las Vegas, which runs concurrently with the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) Show from Friday, Feb. 14, through Monday, Feb. 17.

ATD, a division of NADA, represents more than 1,800 heavy- and medium-duty truck dealerships in the U.S.

For more information about the ATD Show, visit atdshow.org.

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