Booked Solid

I had an interesting experience this week. I drove south to Woodstock, Illinois, with a winter storm warning hanging over my head, to pay a visit to Gordon Botts, owner of Botts Welding, an independent heavy-duty truck shop. The primary reason for my visit was to interview Gordon for an upcoming story, but I was also interested in hearing his take on the future of the fleet industry. Over the phone he had come across as strangely optimistic about the current business climate, and I wanted to find out why. Botts Welding was founded by Gordon's father, and the company has been in business for 80 years. So to say that Gordon has seen his share of ups and downs in the industry is an understatement. This man has weathered every storm to hit the heavy-duty truck industry, and his shop has always done just fine. On the day I visited, the place was filled almost to capacity. I would have asked him how many bays he had in his garage but the answer would have been meaningless; there were trucks and equipment crammed into every inch of available floor space, all being worked on or awaiting repair. One reason business is so good? Many of Botts' customers are opting to rehab their older trucks, rather than buy new. That's meant a steady supply of new business for Botts, as well as job security for the fleet managers who are sending him the trucks to rehab; after all, if they're finding smart ways to hang onto older trucks, then the need for basic maintenance will remain constant. Seems like a pretty sweet way to weather the storm.