Coastal Tractor, our very first DIS customer, recently celebrated 40 years in business! Salinas, CA based Coastal Tractor has not only gone the distance, they just had their best financial year ever. Sonny Rianda, Coastal Tractor founder/owner and Bob Brim, DIS founder/owner, chatted with DIS Media Coordinator Tanya Storm to talk about how their chance meeting on a crowded bus led to 30 years of successfully doing business together.
Tanya: Sonny, if you can remember back that far, why did you initially decide on DIS?
Sonny: I met (DIS owner and founder) Bob Brim on a Ford tractor trip. We shared a seat on a crowded bus. Bob started talking to me about software. My business was not using computers at the time, of course. Our office manager did all the books manually. Bob told me that he had a Ford Tractor dealership. I invited him to come down to California and see us.
Bob: The bus we met on was in Paris, France! In talking with Sonny, he mentioned another system he had been looking at. I did some research and found that the system was endorsed by the California Dealers Association. This was my first inkling that I even had competition. So I flew to California and visited several dealers that had the system installed. Sonny was the last stop on my trip. I did the sales demo using printed reports, as the huge computers of the early 1980s were not exactly portable. I was asked to wait in the showroom while Sonny and his staff talked it over. Problem was, I had to catch the last flight of the day back home. It got closer and closer to my flight time, and I got more and more nervous. Finally, Sonny came out and said, that they had decided to go with DIS, and handed me a check for his down payment. This was my first sales presentation ever!
I didn’t have any time to enjoy this success, as I was about to miss my plane. I rushed to the airport, dropped the rental car in front of the terminal, and called Hertz later to tell them where they could find it. And I flew home with a check from my first customer and a smile on my face.
Tanya: Sonny, why have you chosen to stay with us for more than 30 years?
Sonny: DIS is constantly improving and updating, giving great service and offering more and better features. Why switch? Also, we are a local business and a family dealership, with a strong commitment to our customers. Over the years I have gotten to know Bob personally, and I know that DIS shares the same values of honesty, loyalty and great customer service that we do. I appreciate that.
Tanya: Care to comment on that, Bob?
Bob: When I was working in my Dad’s dealership years ago, Jay Caylor, the parts manager, taught me that if you can’t trust a supplier to give you a fair deal every time, then no matter how cheap their price, it’s not worth the time and energy it takes to watch them. Honesty, fairness and genuine concern must be the foundation for every relationship in business, with customers and with staff.
Tanya: How does Coastal Tractor use DIS Keystone?
Sonny: We use DIS in all three of our locations to perform departmentalized and store-by-store accounting. We also use it for parts control and timecards. It is used by every department in every store. It is the CENTER of our business.
Tanya: What are the biggest problems Coastal Tractor faces that you think DIS helps solve?
Sonny: First, parts inventory control. Our parts manager in the Salinas store can see exactly what is going on in every store as far as parts ordering. We were able to reduce our parts inventory thanks to Keystone’s ability to track, monitor and report. It has given us more info than we ever thought we would need.
Second, it has helped us make informed business decisions. The information Keystone provides on revenues and sales enabled us to make the hard decision to close down one of our branches. This turned out to be a good financial move in the short and long term.
Tanya: Gentleman, you have a combined 71 years in business under your belt. You have clearly done many things right and learned a great deal. What piece of advice would you offer dealers to help them be as successful as you?
Sonny: Take care of your customers. Be fair and be honest with them. The important thing is the customers – you have to treat them right. Also, hire good people that you can trust to uphold your values and manage your business. I’d like to recognize Al Parolini (Coastal Tractor General Manager). He has been one of these people for me.
Bob: I would second that. Building a strong relationship with our customers has been the key to our business as well. Technology is changing at an ever increasing rate and equipment buyers’ expectations follow technology. It used to be enough that the computer could produce a report in less time than it could be done by hand. But today we all expect our laptops, iPads and smart phones to react in seconds with information gathered from sources all over the globe. It is only through a solid partnership between DIS and our software users that we can build and deliver the kinds of tools that are needed today and in the future.
Tanya: Thank you both for your time. And Sonny, best of luck on 40 more years!
Sonny: Well, I’m turning 80 this year, so I don’t know about that!