Great Dane Charlotte has proudly served the Carolinas since opening in the 1950s. The branch team includes more than 30 members with over 240 years of combined experience serving the trucking industry.
Charlotte's Service Shop features 20 service bays, a paint booth, and a mobile service truck, handling everything from inspections to aftermarket installs and major repairs. The Parts Department maintains a large inventory warehouse with a parts retail counter and multiple delivery drivers.
Charlotte has won 11 Branch of The Year Awards, as well as several department awards including Shop Foreman of The Year, Outstanding Parts Sales Recognition, and Service Department of the Year.
Meet the Team
We interviewed the Charlotte Team to learn more about the branch's history, what has made the branch successful for so many years, and what it means to be part of the Great Dane family for generations. In this Spotlight Interview, we featured long-time employees Richard Outlaw (Service Manager, 38 years) and Gary Watkins (Service Writer, 42 years), Dale Helms, Sammy Mack, Matt Brown, and Doug McDonald on our Parts Team, Taylor Hager in the Service Department, 4-time King Pin (Sales Award) winner Brad Gwinn, and Charlotte's Branch Manager Rick Schwarz.
First, what are you most proud of about your team?
R. Schwarz: The resilience of the people who work here. During a challenging year, they all showed up, worked hard, and pushed ahead. I’m proud of employee growth – for older employees and new hires. I’ve seen mechanics grow in their skillset and become more efficient in their trade, parts delivery drivers becoming more efficient on their routes and picking up more accounts, and I've seen growth with new hires that have just recently joined our team.
B. Gwinn: There is a legacy at this branch of amazing success and it’s exciting to be part of that. I see this success continuing with a whole new group of sales guys that are putting in that same effort.
S. Mack: I am proud that people in this area know we have a reputation for quality.
Then and Now - Top image features the current Great Dane Charlotte Team and bottom image features a team photo from the '80s, when the team was awarded Branch of the Year.
D. Helms: I'm proud of how we work as a team and that everyone who works here goes the extra mile. That even goes for management. It means a lot when you see your boss working long hours. You don’t mind working hard for him because you know he won’t ask you to do anything he wouldn't do. It makes me proud to have have strong leaders like that in this business.
Holly Farms was a past customer of Great Dane Charlotte. They were based out of Wilkesboro, NC and had a reputation for selling fresh tray-packed chicken. Holly Farms was acquired by Tyson Foods in 1989.
Photo of a sales event including the spouses of Great Dane.
Many of your employees have been with the company for years, what do you enjoy most about working for Great Dane?
R. Schwarz: At Charlotte we have employees who have been here 42 years, 38 years, 35 and so on. That speaks to the legacy and history of Great Dane. I love talking to these guys and hearing about how it used to be or looking at team pictures with them. With that legacy and history, you have stability and you have these long-lasting, long-term relationships. It’s refreshing to be with a company that has endured for more than 120 years.
T. Hager: Being able to have social interactions with customers and vendors daily. You meet a lot of good people here and build wonderful relationships. I especially enjoy meeting the truck drivers that drive our trailers - it gives purpose to my role.
M. Brown: Working here is like getting paid to work with your friends. We are a family here and the time we spend together is more than with our own families. I also like working with our customers - as long as you take care of them and you are always honest, the customers are always happy to see you.
"I like working with our customers - as long as you take care of them and you are always honest, the customers are always happy to see you ."
The Charlotte area is a big hub for NASCAR - does the branch have any racing history?
G. Watkins: Dale Earnhardt, Sr. worked here in the service department in the '70s. He was a trailer mechanic and left Great Dane to pursue his racing career. There was a very strong Great Dane-NASCAR connection in the 1970s-1990s. Back in those days, some of us worked on the race cars and pit crews during our spare time. I even raced Dale Sr. on dirt tracks a few times.
R. Outlaw: One of our Service Manager's, Tony Eury Sr., left Great Dane to be the Crew Chief for Dale Jr., and another guy was the gas-catch man on Dale Sr.'s team back in the '70's when he was in the Grand National Series.
Current VP of National Accounts, Dave Gilliland, photographed with Dale Earnhardt Jr's iconic No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet.
Rolling tribute to the memory of former NASCAR champion and Great Dane employee, Dale Earnhardt Sr.
There are many generations of Great Dane families, does the Charlotte branch have any family history?
B. Gwinn: Working for Great Dane Charlotte has come full circle for me. My dad was a territory salesman in Charlotte from 1963-1972 before heading down to Orlando as a Branch Manager. In 1989, I began working for the Nashville Branch. A few years later, I moved to Charlotte as a territory salesman, domiciling in Raleigh. Twenty years after leaving Charlotte as a kid, I had returned to work for that branch - in the same building that my dad worked in. I am deeply rooted at Great Dane.
Charlotte has been awarded "Branch of the Year" 11 times, what has contributed to that success?
R. Schwarz: You have people who care and you have leaders who are willing to lead. We have also had a branch presence in this area for years and because of that, we have been able to build long-lasting customer relationships. Even when we have had people retire or move on, those customers have stayed loyal to Great Dane and that’s a testament to everyone here. As a team, we have all worked together to make this branch a better place to work for and more profitable because of our willingness to adapt and change.
G. Watkins: Being faithful to your customers, getting the job done on time, following-up, and always adding a personal touch to our customer service.
What do you enjoy most about doing business in Charlotte, North Carolina?
B. Gwinn: Doing business in North Carolina for the last 29 years has been a gift. My kids have grown up in North Carolina and I've been able to watch them become wonderful, happy adults. They are still in Raleigh and that couldn't make me happier. It has been great to grow up in this area, in both my career and as a person. Charlotte has been a wonderful place to establish and continue my career.
Greg Scoggins and his son Mason. Greg has been with Great Dane almost 38 years.
Great Dane customer and owner of Douglas and Sons Inc. - celebrating at the grand opening of the new Great Dane Charlotte facility.
Great Dane Charlotte teamed up with a local rescue shelter for the opening of the new Charlotte branch.
"Just knowing that the customers you meet and serve, when they leave, you did what was right for them and their family."
What will customers get from your branch that they won't get anywhere else?
D. McDonald: Just knowing that the customers you meet and serve, when they leave, you did what was right for them and their family. Working in this role means more than trying to make a sale, it’s making sure that your customer is safe on the road, that we took care of them with a fair price and honest work. There is a lot of pride working for Great Dane. It matters.
R. Schwarz: This branch’s commitment to excellence goes all the way back to the 1950s in Charlotte – this company has a strong reputation in this area. It’s our job to carry that torch. We are committed to upholding those standards that our premium brand represents. I am confident that if you come to Charlotte as a customer, you should feel confident in knowing that whatever you need, we are going to know how to get it done. These guys are good at what they do and they have been doing it a long time. That experience and knowledge should reassure anybody who wants to do business with Great Dane Charlotte.
R. Outlaw: The quality of work when a trailer comes in here – we like to make sure the work is done correctly and the customer is satisfied when it goes out the door. We have a lot of pride in that. Being a premium product, we provide a premium experience and that drives our customer service.