Great Dane Richmond has proudly served the Virginia, DC, and Maryland region since opening in 1957. The branch team includes 20 members with over 100 years of combined experience serving the trucking industry. 

Richmond is a full-service branch featuring 11 service bays and a mobile service truck, handling everything from inspections to aftermarket installs and major repairs. The Parts Department maintains a large inventory selection with a parts retail counter and multiple delivery drivers. 

Richmond has won 3 Branch of The Year awards and 4 Branch Safety Awards, as well as several department awards including Parts Department of the Year, Outstanding Parts Sales Recognition,  Parts Sales Achievement Award, Parts Salesman of the Year,  Service Department of the Year, and Service Foreman of the Year.

Meet the Team

We interviewed the Richmond 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 Charles Reid (Outside Parts Sales, 49 years), Mike Benson (Service Lead Man & former Service Manager, 39 years), Billy Ernest (Service Manager, 31 years), Brandon Pardoe (Parts Manager, 13 years), Russell Hoffman (Parts Coordinator, 11 years), and Richmond's Branch Manager Boyd Crist. 

First, what are you most proud of about your team?

R. Hoffman: The loyalty and commitment that everyone on our team has. It keeps us on top and makes us one of the best in the industry. Our current Richmond team is one of the strongest groups I have seen in the 11 years I have been here. We have some of the most dedicated employees that are very passionate about the work they do and the results they produce. 

B. Crist: Our ability to stand strong and still flourish even during the tough times. Our team is constantly looking for ways to better themselves. They are always anticipating the hurdles and finding ways to not only meet their goals, but exceed them too. I am extremely proud of what my team has overcome in this last year during a very challenging time for many. We are a stronger more cohesive team because of it.  

C. Reid: I'm proud of the work ethic of our team members and the desire to see that our customer needs are always met to the best of our ability.

B. Pardoe: I would have to say the resiliency of this team. No matter what has been thrown at this group we have always stuck together and pulled through. It seems like every new team member we add adopts this mentality and that helps our branch  make it over each hurdle.

Then and Now - Top image features current Richmond employees Boyd Crist, Kevin Posey, Billy Ernest, and Brandon Pardoe. Bottom image features the Richmond Service Team from 1996. The man holding the plaque is Dennis Hamlin, the Service Manager at the time. To his left is Richmond's current Service Manager, Billy Ernest.  

"Our current Richmond team is one of the strongest groups I have seen in the 11 years I have been here. We have some of the most dedicated employees that are very passionate about the work they do and the results they produce. "

Many of your employees have been with the company for years, what do you enjoy most about working for Great Dane?

C. Reid: I’ve been here on and off since 1972. The first time from January 1972 – July 1973.  I came back in January 1974 and remained until July 2008, when I retired at 55. After being with Great Dane over a period of 36 years, I started looking for something to do during retirement. The best part about working for Great Dane for so many years were the friendships I was able to develop with coworkers and customers, and it is something I missed while I was gone.  I ended up coming back to Great Dane in October 2018 and I'm still here today. I guess I had never got it out of my system. So much for saying you can never go home again. 

Great Dane has a long history with NASCAR, does the Richmond branch have any connections?

M. Benson: I worked on NASCAR Driver Denny Hamlin’s go-kart back in the '80s. His father, Dennis Hamlin, was the Service Manager of the Richmond branch at the time. 

B. Ernest: Dennis Hamlin hired me back in 1990. When Denny was young and racing go-karts, Dennis would record his races and bring them into the shop. We had an old VCR connected to a small television and we would sit in the break room during lunch and watch his races. We would see Denny come in from time to time. After Dennis left Great Dane, he started his own business working on smaller utility trailers and hitch installs. Chesterfield Trailer & Hitch was the name of his business. I went to visit him later on and would see Denny working on the trucks & trailers with his dad.

Denny Hamlin's was raised in Chesterfield, VA where he began racing go-karts at the age of 7. Great Dane service techs worked on Denny's go-kart when he was a kid. 

Richmond has won multiple awards over six decades, can you point to one thing that has contributed to the long-term success of your branch? 

B. Crist: The single most important reason this branch has been successful for over 6 decades is the resiliency of the team. The staff has been through long periods without management or sales people and long periods of not having enough manpower, but they still have managed to remain profitable and tight-knit. Also, getting our foot in the door with a large fleet and being able to purchase equipment on a National scale is the single reason we've managed to pull through and have a successful 2020 in Richmond. The solution that we created for the fleet’s large problem and the excellent customer service we provided throughout the transaction was second to none.

C. Reid: We have transitioned from focusing on independent customers to reaching more national accounts, but we still continue to provide the personal service that the smaller customers deserve. 

R. Hoffman: The hard work and passion from everyone in this building. We all strive to be the best and provide the best service possible each day. Whether it is a large fleet or an individual roadside mechanic, our customers get the same level of customer service. 

B. Pardoe: The team members. This group has stuck together through times when we didn't have a Branch Manager or even any salesmen. We are a competitive bunch who like to push each other to be the best and in doing so, provide our customers with the best customer service they can find. I think the Conway Retrofit Campaign we did really helped to strengthen our branch. We had parts and service working together to make up kits and get them installed within a deadline. It showed us what we could accomplish together.

"We have transitioned from focusing on independent customers to reaching more national accounts, but we still continue to provide the personal service that the smaller customers deserve."

What will customers get from your branch that they won't get anywhere else?

B. Crist: Quality of shop work, staff knowledge, excellent customer service, and a management team that has been in the customer's shoes, knowing exactly how a fleet runs and how they maintain their equipment.  

C. Reid: Premium customer service and the desire to help our customer's businesses succeed. This is something customers will not seen everywhere else.

R. Hoffman: Exceptional customer service and knowledge. In the Parts Department, we have over 100 years of combined industry experience. We use our resources to provide fast and accurate information to our customers and we keep our inventory stocked to prevent them from having to go to the competition.

Pictured left to right: Photographs from Truck Driver Appreciation Week which was celebrated September 13-19, 2020. The Richmond branch passed out Great Dane promo and food to drivers as a "thank you" for their hard work during a challenging year. 

What do you enjoy most about doing business in Richmond, Virginia?

R. Hoffman: The history. There is so much history in Richmond and the surrounding areas. Museums, battlefields, monuments - there is something for everyone. 

B. Pardoe: The competition. Our team strives to be the best and with all the competition we have locally, it only pushes us to better ourselves. 

B. Crist: I enjoy getting to know each customer and understanding what their personal needs are. We have a very diverse customer base and each fleet, whether it’s a one truck fleet or a hundred, gets the same personal touch.

C. Reid: I enjoy the people that I get to work with and the customers I get to work for. The friendships I have made over the course of 49 years in this industry have made my job very enjoyable. 

"The friendships I have made over the course of 49 years in this industry have made my job very enjoyable."

Do you have any interesting history or fun stories about your branch? 

C. Reid: The physical location of the branch has been the same since 1957. If I remember correctly, it started as a Brown Trailer Dealer. It was bought by Great Dane around 1969.

B. Pardoe: On multiple occasions, we have had individuals come to our doors looking for Great Dane puppies thinking that is what we sell. We were prepping for inventory one Saturday and a couple came to our door asking to take a look at the puppies. My team had no idea what they were talking about. It provided a good laugh for our team the rest of the afternoon.

Interested in learning more about Great Dane Richmond?