Chad Remp, chair of the West Virginia District Export Council and operations manager of Wheeling Truck Center, Inc., a family owned business in Wheeling, West Virginia, talked with Jim Matuga, host of The Positively West Virginia Podcast, about how he got started in the truck business, his advice for someone wanting to bust into the international business and his experience on the West Virginia District Export Council.
Wheeling Truck Center, Inc., was founded in 1933, and is an authorized Volve truck dealership. Wheeling Truck Center, Inc., deals with new and used trucks, service and truck parts of all makes of heavy-duty class eight trucks. This national company also started an international sales division in 2010.
How did you [Chad] know you wanted to get started in the truck business?
“Growing up in the business, I had spent time in the dealership,” Remp said. “I had started working when I was 12 years old during the summers, and then during college, I would work during the summer and during some of the breaks. I’ve done everything from washing trucks to sweeping floors to counting parts inventory.”
“I had a great, lengthy introduction to this business. I had very good expectations on what I was getting myself into.”
What’s some advice for someone getting involved in international business?
Remp moved Wheeling Truck Center, Inc., into the international business space in 2010.
“Every company is going to be a little different,” Remp said. “There are going to be some operations that will not have the ability to do international business. However, there are a lot that do have the abilities and the products or services that could be put out on an international basis.”
“If someone has an interest, that is the number one step. Actually figuring out that there may be an opportunity. The second step is to do something with it. It will involve a commitment of some time, resources and possibly some money.”
As chair of the West Virginia District Export Council, is this something you help other West Virginia companies with?
“The West Virginia District Export Council has been a great organization,” Remp said. “It consists of individuals like myself who are private-business individuals, owners and employees. The other individuals that make up the deck are governmental agencies. We have individuals from the Small Business Association (SBA), from the development office, from commercial services andfrom the agriculture department (food exports).
“We have all of these individuals in this room, and we come up with a game plan to try to coordinate our efforts. We are working together to help assist businesses throughout the state to make sure they are able to learn quickly what is needed to export. And then when you get some of the basics in, how can you get to the next level.”
What was your worst business experience as an entrepreneur?
“Running a business, and especially a small business, there are plenty of rough times out there. It is far from the sunshine and roses that most people try to paint a picture of,” Remp said.
“For us, one of the worst experiences we went through was in 1998. Shortly after I graduated, we expanded and bought a location in Zanesville, Ohio. Right at that time, markets were still good. Shortly after we completed the purchase, the truck market–the bottom dropped right out of it. At the same time, we had a lease on our [other] facility with the prior owners, and unfortunately, we did not get a renewal clause inserted into our lease agreement. So after the three years, our rent rate tripled.”
“We were trying to get the new location turned around, and we were making headway, but not enough to tolerate that type of rent increase. And unfortunately, we had to liquidate everything out of that business and close it down. That cost us a significant amount of money.”
What is one piece of advice you would give a young entrepreneur?
“It’s harder than it looks. There is no such thing as easy business. There’s no such thing as easy money. It’s not out there. It’s tiresome. And even when you look at people on the outside and say, ‘hey, that looks great,’ there are years and years of hard work that go into building a business,” Remp said.
Remp was a guest on The Positively West Virginia Podcast. Listen to his full podcast here.
PWV QUICK BITS
- RECOMMENDED BOOKS: The Hard Thing about Hard Things by Ben Horowitz and The Slight Edge: Secret to a Successful Life by Jeff Olsen.
- RECOMMENDED RESOURCE: Contactually.
- PERSON REMP WOULD LIKE TO MEET: Anyone who owns a business in West Virginia that needs help with their business.