What’s in an Education? 

Beverly Written by Beverly Leavitt September 24, 2023 Member Updates

Three men standing in front of an Egger Truck.

Bob Henley of R.E. Egger Truck and Machine wanted to drop out of high school. 

At the time, he didn’t see the need to get a diploma to get his hands dirty. Now, he’s part owner.

He remembers, “I grew up on a chicken farm across the road from where the shop used to be (Egger Excavating). I would always run lawnmower go-karts, and Roger, the previous owner, would see me ripping down the road.”

He continues, “Roger and Betty are like my second family who unofficially adopted me. I did a co-op with them in high school. Roger knew I had a mechanical background, but he pushed me to finish high school, even though I wasn’t that good at it.” 

After high school, Bob completed his truck and coach apprenticeship and expanded his skillset on the ag side afterwards.

Buying In

Roger started selling and installing GPS systems and providing field service. Bob took over the service and continued to gain knowledge by working on everything from tires to fabrication. 

“I didn’t like doing just trucks or just the same thing. I loved having different days—a variety of work,” Bob shares.

But learning every side of the shop wasn’t enough. Bob slowly started taking on sales and then managerial duties, which transitioned to partial dealership ownership with Roger’s son Dale. 

“It’s like nothing changed. I’m here doing my thing like I always did. And it was nice for the guys. I worked with them on the floor, and many of them trained me. It’s been easy because we worked together–they know I know what I’m talking about.”

Under New Ownership 

Bob advocates for the truck and coach apprenticeship, stating, “A lot of things that you would learn in truck school are relatable to tractors. Even if we intend on having an ag guy, we still send them to school for 310T so they can write safeties.

I did the same. I started my family young (I have three kids now), and I could work and make money while going to school. I would work four days a week from 7 am - 5 pm, and sometimes until midnight if that’s what was required, and be in school on the fifth day.” 

When he hires apprentices, he encourages them to do the same to gain experience working on the equipment while taking courses. 

In Bob’s words: “The last guy I hired had zero mechanical skills, but he’s doing his apprenticeship and killing it! We can give them training and teach them by working beside them, but we can’t fix a bad attitude. It’s not just bad for that one employee; it brings down the entire group.”

Part of Bob’s success comes from encouraging his team to learn different equipment. The dealership has six bays for trucks, whole goods assembly, and an ag shop. While employees specialize in certain areas, they move around depending on what business comes in. 

“It can sometimes be a struggle because you get the odd “truck guy,” but it’s better for our customers. A farmer can have their tractor serviced in the same spot as the truck they use for hauling grain. If it will fit through the door, we’ll service it–and even if it doesn’t, we’ll still do it.”

Bob’s approach (similar to Roger’s) focuses on mentorship and versatility. Do you take the same approach in your dealership, or have you found another method that works for you?

If you want to learn more about R.E. Egger, follow them on social media. You’ll see how they engage with local radio stations for promotion, leverage their social media channels for marketing, and invite reps and customers alike to demo days at Roger’s farm to test the equipment.