2020 Truck Dealer of the Year Oscar Horton offered his second guest lecture to students at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business on Tuesday, Oct. 5; in 2020, Horton spoke to students during a virtual guest lecture to a different group of students enrolled in the same course. During Horton’s in-person lecture, he shared career path and leadership experiences with students enrolled in entrepreneurship classes at the school’s Kelley School of Business.
Horton spoke to two classes of students and shared his journey from suit sales at Sears in Little Rock, Ark. to International Harvester, now Navistar, as a management trainee after graduating from the University of Arkansas. Horton rose through the ranks at Navistar, but decided to leave the company in late 1999 and purchased Sun State International.
“It was a pleasure to speak to these IU entrepreneurship students who will soon set out on their own professional journeys,” said Horton, president and CEO of Sun State International Trucks, LLC in Tampa, Fla. “Moving from the corporate world to owning my own business has been an incredibly rewarding experience and I’m honored to share my path, including the challenges and success, I’ve encountered.”
Horton shared his approach to running his business with a focus on transparency and responsibility for every employee.
“Doing the right things and fostering the related core values—including mutual respect, teamwork and trust, is vital to our culture,” said Horton. “It is what keeps our company sustainable and poised for future success.”
Through his career journey, Horton developed five tenets of professional success, which he shared with the students. One key element to success according to Horton: “Build good, strong relationships. Building and fostering relationships pays dividends throughout your career. The relationships I have built have helped me to overcome one of the greatest challenges in my career: getting the buy-in and trust of my colleagues to serve in their best interest.”
Horton also provided students insight into a component of his business that is very important to him: community involvement. Horton is actively involved with a number of community-based organizations, including Academy Prep, the Greater Tampa Bay Chamber of Commerce, the Florida Trucking Association, Abe Brown Ministries and the Tampa Bay Community Foundation.
“It was an honor having Oscar in my classes,” shared Marty Pieratt, senior lecturer in the management and entrepreneurship department within the Kelley School of Business. “He’s a north star for people interested in entrepreneurship and doing good things for people. My students found him compelling and compassionate.”
ATD Chairman Steve Bassett, ATD Chairman, a University of Indiana alum, also attended Horton’s lectures. The guest lecture is part of the annual Truck Dealer of the Year award program, which offers the winner the opportunity to speak to business students with an interest in entrepreneurship. Professors from Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business have judged the program for more than 20 years.
The national award – sponsored by the American Truck Dealers (ATD), Heavy Duty Trucking magazine and Procede Software – recognizes commercial-truck dealers for business performance, industry leadership and community service.
The 2022 award will be presented during the ATD Show in Las Vegas, Nev. in March 2022.