Backstory: Friendship and chance lead couple to custom truck shop

jmgiglio@newsobserver.comApril 29, 2013 

  • Tips from Amy White

    •  Find a good location and stick with it.

    •  Have a business plan.

    •  Find good employees.

    •  Enjoy what you do.

— Amy and Bill White never imagined themselves as owners of a custom truck shop.

They each had 30-year business careers behind them. She had spent her time in textiles, and he had worked in construction and owned a contracting business.

But a hobby, some friends and the poor economy led the couple to open Super Trucks Plus, a garage and shop that customizes vehicles with lift kits, after-market tires and high-output audio systems, and is marked by a giant, can’t-miss pickup truck that’s parked on its South Saunders Street lot.

“It wasn’t ‘Gee, I want to own a truck shop,’ ” said Bill White. “It was kind of a fluke. It was one of those, I couldn’t find work. I hung out with those guys (from another truck shop), and then (they said), ‘Why don’t you buy the place?’ ”

Before buying the store, Bill White had an interest in trucks, but it was nothing more than that. He had had his truck built at the Raleigh truck shop, We Do Trucks, and was friends with the people who worked there.

In 2009, that shop started to shut down, and the Whites saw an opportunity.

The pair waited until the store closed and then opened their own place with the We Do Trucks manager. They bought the other company’s phone number, some of its excess inventory and store displays.

“If people call the old We Do Trucks number, they get us,” Amy White, 55, said. “The biggest thing we bought was a 15-year-old phone number.”

Armed with that old number, the Whites – who had recently married – opened their original shop on Raleigh’s Capital Boulevard in September 2009.

The couple would end up moving two more times in their first three years of business.

“It was a good location for us,” Amy White said about the Capital Boulevard store. “We had lots of space, but it was hard for people to find us.”

So the Whites packed up shop and moved to Fuquay-Varina.

However, their newest location proved to have some of the same issues.

The Whites had to close for two months so they could find a new place.

In February 2012, the couple looked into moving to Garner but ended up on busy South Saunders Street, near downtown Raleigh, instead.

“Our business has tripled because of this road,” Bill White, 53, said.

The street isn’t the only reason the business is taking off. The Whites also credit their small, well-rounded staff that’s accustomed to handling everything from answering phones to installing tires and stereo equipment.

The couple hired and fired several staffers before finding the crew they wanted – employees with positive attitudes who understand the concept of teamwork.

“It takes the right kind of person who can do what we do,” Bill White said. “I need people who can work together.”

The pair is appreciative of the staff. Amy White makes or buys her employees lunch every day and keeps the refrigerator stocked with drinks, including Mountain Dew, bottled water and grape juice.

The group gathers around a long table in the shop’s kitchen and eats together daily.

After lunch, it’s back to business for the crew and couple. Amy White works with vendors, bankers and insurance agents. Bill spends his time working with customers and supervising the trucks in the shop.

“Four years later,” Bill White said, “it’s just starting to get fun.”

Giglio: 919-829-4649

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