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Lura Forcum
Kelley School of Business

Last modified: Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Nation's top truck dealer to speak to Kelley School students

Oct. 15, 2008

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- For the past 16 years, professors in Indiana University's Kelley School of Business have been charged with identifying the Truck Dealer of the Year for an annual competition held by the American Truck Dealers. As part of the prize, the winner comes to Kelley to talk to students about entrepreneurship and marketing.

This year the committee has selected Marvin Rush, chairman of Rush Enterprises of New Braunfels, Texas, who will be at the school next Wednesday (Oct. 22).

Clinical Associate Professor Gilbert Frisbie, Senior Lecturer Greg Kitzmiller and Senior Lecturer Joe Denekamp comprised the selection committee. Each year, they review applications and choose a winner, who receives a number of honors throughout the year, such as recognition at industry conferences and representing the industry to Congress, truck manufacturers and other groups.

Kelley's involvement with this competition began in 1991, when Lynn McGee was earning her doctorate degree in business at the school and was asked to consult on a project to improve the award and make it more meaningful to the trucking industry. McGee, now vice chancellor for university advancement at the University of South Carolina Beaufort, continues to chair the selection team. She originally chose IU professors to judge the competition because of its transportation center.

"Students stand to learn a lot from dealership owners, who are often independent entrepreneurs who build a business from the ground up," McGee said.

Trucks are so ubiquitous and many may not realize that a wide variety of services are required to enable nearly 3.46 million truck drivers to move more than 10 billion tons of goods across the country each year. Rush Enterprises operates in many areas of business: leasing, financing, sales of parts and tires, repairs, and insurance. In addition to medium- and heavy-duty trucks, the company also leases cranes, garbage trucks, oil rigs, and construction equipment.

Rush founded his business in 1965, and soon expanded to a network of dealerships in the southern United States that sell, lease, and service trucks, with the aim of providing truck buyers an experience akin to that of luxury car buyers. The size and success of his business in changing environments was one of the reasons the Kelley marketing faculty selected Rush for the award.

Rush Enterprises had $2.4 billion in revenue last year, has more than 48 stores in 70 locations from Florida to California, and was the first of its kind to be listed on NASDAQ. Rush has developed the largest heavy- and medium-duty truck dealership network in North America.

"Regardless of the changes that have taken place over the years, this is still a relationship business. We believe 'service sells trucks, trucks don't sell service.' Providing exceptional customer service will help build long-term relationships with your customers and keep your business moving forward," Rush explained.

Rush will be addressing Denekamp's undergraduate "Managing Growth" class as well as a graduate "Business Planning" class. Denekamp observes, "The ability talk one on one with business leaders who have grown their companies to the very top of their industry provides an extraordinary opportunity to learn firsthand what they will be facing after they graduate and start to grow their own companies."