Officials tout new Peterbilt dealership's role in the economy

2013-07-11T14:22:00Z 2013-07-12T05:54:33Z Officials tout new Peterbilt dealership's role in the economyBy TOM HOWARD thoward@billingsgazette.com The Billings Gazette

On most days, the 27 service bays in the new Montana Peterbilt truck dealership are occupied by large rigs undergoing maintenance and repairs.

On Thursday, long tables clad in white linens occupied a portion of the 53,000-square-foot building at 3255 N. Frontage Road. Local officials gathered for an open house, ribbon-cutting ceremony and a sit-down lunch to commemorate the completion of the $4 million project.

Brothers Kevin and John Gustainis bought Montana’s three Peterbilt dealerships in 2008. Kevin worked in sales for Paccar, Peterbilt’s parent company, for 12 years before he approached his brother about going into the truck business for themselves.

Soon after buying the Montana properties — full-service properties in Billings and Missoula and a parts and service store in Columbia Falls — it was clear they needed more space in Billings. The longtime location was in a crowded industrial section near MetraPark. If you were a trucker in need of service work, you had to navigate numerous narrow streets to get there.

But after learning that 18 acres of property was available on Frontage Road near the intersection of Interstate 90 and 94, the brothers made the purchase, and the new dealership was launched.

Kevin Gustainis, president of Montana Peterbilt, said Thursday that Al Koelzer of NAI Business Properties helped get the ball rolling by informing him about a piece of prime real estate that would make an ideal location for his business.

The strategy was to grow the business by increasing visibility and bringing in truckers off the highway. Two months after the dealership opened, it’s starting to draw passing truckers off the highway, he said. Montana Peterbilt employs 78 people in its three dealerships. Forty-six employees work in Billings. Gustainis said he is advertising to hire several more qualified service technicians.

Lt. Gov John Walsh said Gov. Steve Bullock’s top priority is creating new jobs, and he thanked the Gustainis brothers for choosing to build a new dealership. It’s proof that Billings and Montana are a good place to do business, he said.

John Gustainis underscored the trucking industry's importance to society with these words: “If you wear it, eat it, build it or drive it, it was brought here in a truck.”

Copyright 2014 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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