Dan and Kris Bullinger, owners of Olympic Truck Service in Olympia, Wash., feel lucky to be able to attend their kids’ sports events and school functions without having to ask for time off. The shop is in the heart of the South Puget Sound region, and the area has a clean and outdoorsy vibe. Dan, Kris and their three children also enjoy frequent trips to the Oregon Dunes and beach trips to camp and dig clams with their family. Olympic Truck Service has been a part of Dan’s family since 1982, beginning with his dad, uncle and Grandpa Bullinger. Timing aligned perfectly in 2018 for Dan and his wife Kris to purchase the family’s shop. Dan’s parents were looking to retire, and planning to sell the shop to someone else but the deal fell through, and Dan and Kris jumped at the opportunity to purchase the family business.
Flash forward to today, instead of 14-year-old Dan working at the shop “scrubbing floors, cleaning toilets and helping the guys push in clutches,” he and Kris have doubled the company’s gross revenue from 2017, are planning on an expansion in 2022. Life didn’t change immediately for Dan and Kris after purchasing the shop. According to Kris, “owning the shop has definitely been a labor of love.”
The pair said they spent more time trying to figure out what to do first than anything else.
“We started with Drive just a few months after we purchased the shop, and it helped us get organized and figure out what we needed to do to be successful with the shop that we had,” Dan said. “Olympic Truck runs two shifts and the communication breakdown between shifts was proving to be one of the largest issues we had to tackle.”
All Olympic Truck’s 18 employees play a role in the family-oriented, close-knit culture.
“When something goes wrong, we all come together to find the best solution. Sometimes that solution doesn’t make anyone happy, but it is the right thing to do,” Kris said. “Olympic Truck Service sets a standard to make sure all employees focus on “doing the right thing, not the easy thing.”
They value quality work and customer loyalty over cutting corners.
Through the pandemic, instead of waiting to see what was going to happen, Dan and Kris acted quickly to utilize any downtime to build strong relationships with the customers who came in, set up a new mobile truck service and support their employees. They were able to develop a strong outside sales and expansion plan.
“It was a bit scary at times during the beginning of the pandemic, one of our large fleets shut down in our area, and our local customers were not making their usual deliveries. We were slow, but Dan and I believed that the pandemic situation could not last forever. We needed to take advantage of the time we had to plan for the Shop’s future,” Kris said.
Kris and Dan rolled out a new website built by Drive, an SEO plan and Google Ads. They used key-wording to their advantage and cut less effective marketing avenues like the Yellow Pages.
After looking at the other diesel shops in the area, which are mostly dealerships, Dan made the decision to update and add new tooling and equipment, making the shop more attractive to prospective employees. Additionally, they were able to add technicians and service employees to improve shop workflow.
Olympic Truck has hosted events partnering with Worksource and Big Brothers and Big Sisters to target young people who are not interested in attending a four-year college. Olympic Truck will also be co-hosting a career fair for apprentice and trade careers later this year.
“It is so important for companies to reach out in the community and advocate for our industry. I want kids to know that our shop is fully digital, our Techs use tablets, and our column lifts have wi-fi. I feel like it helps them be able to visualize themselves in the position,” Kris said.