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Steve Cook, vice president and general manager of Diamond International of Springfield, says the company's new Springfield plant has accelerated service bays allowing quicker vehicle diagnostic checks.
Steve Cook, vice president and general manager of Diamond International of Springfield, says the company's new Springfield plant has accelerated service bays allowing quicker vehicle diagnostic checks.

Business Spotlight: A Diamond in the Rough

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No matter what size rig, Diamond International of Springfield is equipped to handle it.

“We’re a truck dealership first. We deal with medium-duty delivery trucks, all the way down to the guy whose got a lawn and garden business with a flatbed on the back, up to the milk delivery trucks and the 18 wheelers that are running up and down the road,” says Steve Cook, vice president and general manager of Diamond International of Springfield.

After 14 years operating in Springfield, the truck dealer, service and repair shop expanded into a 61,600-square-foot building with 15 service bays on 10 acres fronting Interstate 44. The company relocated May 20 to 2635 E. Diamond St. in the New Prime commercial subdivision from 1529 E. Chestnut Expressway.

Cook says relocation costs were in the $10 million ballpark, and the land and building are both owned by Memphis, Tenn.-based parent company Diamond Cos. Inc.

Similar to an automotive dealer, Diamond International exclusively carries new International brand trucks, as well as used trucks and financing options.

It also operates an in-house truck lease program, called Idealease, and a bus franchise called Diamond State Bus Co. serving Arkansas.

Diamond Cos. formation
Diamond International is privately owned by Dick Sweebe, who purchased Mid-America International Trucks in Memphis in 1982. Using his decade of experience in the industry, Sweebe acquired seven additional properties, including the Springfield location in 1999, the same year Diamond Cos. was created as the holding company.

Today, Diamond Cos. comprises 16 sites employing 600 across Tennessee, Arkansas, Missouri and Kansas.

In northeast Springfield, Diamond International’s bays include a cleaning machine for truck engines that run on compressed and liquid natural gas, a full-length drive-thru wash bay and accelerated service bays, which are designed to increase efficiencies.

“We have accelerated service bays here that we didn’t have at our other facility which means that you can bring your vehicle in and we’ll put a diagnostic check on it. We’ll let you know within an hour what’s wrong with that vehicle and you can make a decision if you want to get it fixed right then or fix it later,” says Cook, a trucking industry veteran of 33 years, who has worked a quarter century at Diamond International.

Working with more than 300 area clients, Cook says the Springfield location recorded $50 million in revenues last year, a 10 percent increase compared to 2011. Local sales fed into systemwide revenues of $500 million. Diamond Cos. sells more than 2,000 trucks a year, Cook says.

“When you sell trucks that are more than $100,000 apiece, you pick up a 100 truck deal, that’s $10 million,” Cook says, noting Springfield dealership projections are expected to exceed the 2012 mark.

One regular customer is Penske Truck Leasing, just down the street on North Neergard Avenue. Randy Ryerson, director of corporate communications for Pennsylvania-based Penske, says the moving truck rental company deals with Diamond International on a daily basis for parts.

Cook says Diamond Cos. has more than $8 million in inventory.

Hiring incentives
Diamond International’s expansion was among 10 capital improvement and job creation plans in 2012 receiving tax incentives through assistance by the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce and its affiliate, Springfield Business Development Corp. The truck dealer qualified for $640,000 in state and local tax credits via the Missouri Department of Economic Development and Springfield’s Enhanced Enterprise Zone.

If Diamond International fulfills its plan to hire 33 employees in the next three years, the company is in line to receive $388,000 in property tax abatement during a 10-year period and $253,000 in state tax credits over five years, says Rob Dixon, the chamber’s vice president of business assistance.

“We’re well on our way to that,” Cook says. “In fact, we will surpass that. We had 45 roughly a year ago. We ramped up hiring people … and already we’re seeing the need to hire more. For instance, we’ve hired 11 technicians. We went from 19 to 30.”[[In-content Ad]]

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