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River States Truck and Trailer, Inc.

Environmental Initiatives

As River States Truck and Trailer has continued to expand, many solutions have been introduced to help reduce the impact of the business’s “carbon footprint” on the environment. Most recently, the most current projects include updating outdoor lighting to LED and bidding out a new boiler system for the La Crosse location. These high-efficiency boilers will be 95.7% efficient versus the original building system. By switching out the current HID lamps to LED lighting, the lighting will become more efficient to run and almost triple the life-cycle of the current lamps . This move will not only save dollars on the bottom line, help reduce energy consumption, but also save on waste going to the landfills.

Over the past few decades, other solutions have been set in place to help reduce waste and help become a “greener” company. Company mandates began in 2007, when River States set a company-wide goal to reduce paper usage 40% by 2015. This goal was accomplished by implementing two central, multi-function copiers at each location and utilizing email capabilities for statements, invoices and other company related documents. River States also looked to reduce the need for printing and filing important documents, as they would now store these same items online. Great strides have been made to help reach the long term goal of becoming “paper-less”. Many accounting functions are now completely electronic, doing away with a lot of printing and paper filing.

Community Involvement and Civic Responsibility

Over the 21 years of service at River States Truck and Trailer, President Joe Laux has always looked to dedicate his time, talent and resources to many civic and charitable enterprises throughout the local community and beyond. Recently, Laux and his wife, Lynn, decided to establish a Marketing Scholarship award at their alma mater, University of Wisconsin—La Crosse. The couple also contributes annually to the UWL Athletics Department, UWL College of Business, L Club/UWL Foundation, and the construction of the new UWL Stadium and campus buildings.

Laux and River States also recently donated a Suite during a Green Bay Packer game to the Hope Lives Foundation to be auctioned off to raise money for their foundation, which supports local families who’s kids have been diagnosed with Cancer.

Joe Laux and River States have also spent a lot of time and energy serving the interests of many local area students; establishing scholarship programs at area high schools, technical colleges and universities. Beginning in 2000, River States developed an apprentice technician program for student diesel technicians. Upon admittance, the program provides the student with tuition reimbursement in addition to part time employment as a tech at one of the River States locations. Each apprentice technician is teamed up with a mentor to help reinforce their classroom curriculum with hands on, real world experience on site. This program has been extremely successful and has been awarded to over 30 diesel technician students to date, many of whom having become full-time River States employees post-graduation.

River States also provides support for other organizations in the area including the Boys & Girls Club, Aimee Mathy Center, Red Cross, WAFER food bank, Coulee Region RSVP, Onalaska Park and Rec, Onalaska Suns Basketball Club, Boy Scout Chapter of La Crosse, Girl Scout Chapter of La Crosse, Toys for Tots, La Crosse Humane Society, New Horizons Women’s shelter and the YMCA Strong Kids Campaign. River States also supports a program called First Tee Golf Sponsorship in St. Croix Valley, a program that introduces golf to elementary age students. The program focuses on golf development, character education (honesty, respect and sportsmanship), and promotes healthy active lifestyles.

Finally, River States Truck and Trailer prides itself on the annual participation in the United Way Fund drive. The United Way helps fund area programs within the community that deal with education, poverty, housing, healthcare services, substance abuse, counseling, job training, youth mentoring, hunger, child abuse, and other serious issues. With over 40% employee participation, River States has raised an average of $2500 per year for this charitable cause.

Customer Education

River States Truck & Trailer has always worked closely with customers to make sure they understand the product and are using it to the fullest potential. With all the advances in technology and new products coming on the market, they feel it is necessary to make sure the customer fully understands the capabilities of their product, so its benefits do not go unused and wasted. The sales department as well as service and parts departments are all involved in helping educate customers on the benefits of the products and services we sell.

The River States Finance team will also pair up with the sales department to help educate customers on the best options to fit their needs. The Finance department has held finance and lease training for customers with CPA participation to help customers find the best financing options to fit their situation – not just selling them products to make the most money – but truly what is the best option for the customer. They also offer this as a webinar for customers so they can access this information when their time allows or if they are just searching for more information on financing options.

Recently, representatives from Freightliner and Detroit were on hand and met with several customers to explain the benefits of their products as well as educate them on new technology.

Staff Education & Training

Not only does River States educate their customers, the company maintains its standards of excellence by making sure its employees have proper training to do their jobs efficiently, effectively, and to the best of their ability. Safety training has always been important to River States. Every employee from general manager, diesel tech, to receptionist undergoes safety training at least twice per year. This training helps remind employees the proactive steps they can take regarding safety and helps reduces the number of safety related incidents each year.

With new technology constantly being introduced into the trucking industry, it is vital that companies educate their employees on these advancements. River States has invested thousands of dollars toward keeping their employees abreast on these new products and technologies. In 2012, River States hired an in-house company trainer and a state-of-the art training classroom and engine room was constructed in the Roberts location. The trainer, who has 25 years in the diesel truck industry, was given the task of making sure all diesel technicians were current on new engine technology. Every diesel technician is required to complete online training from Freightliner, Detroit and other OEMs, classroom courses, plus hands-on training from the corporate trainer. The corporate trainer stays in close contact with each technician and has created an online blog where River States technicians can find and post solutions and issues with each other – they share experiences to help educate each other.

In addition to technician training, the parts staff is required to complete several online courses to keep current on new products and solutions for customers and the sales staff is sent several times a year to locations around the country to learn the latest product offerings and developments from vendors.

The future well-being of River States employees is also an important factor to the company. Retirement classes and financial investment educators are brought in at no charge to help employees make decisions based on their financial goals. Each employee can sign up for a 30 minute session with a financial educator to go over their financial planning and investment strategies to make sure they are on track with the goals they have set for their future. The feedback on this program has proven to be a very useful benefit to employees and helps put their mind at ease about their future.

Marketing Efforts

As advertising strategies have continued to change and evolve over the last decade, River State’s marketing efforts have grown to encompass online media, social media networks, as well as traditional forms of marketing to stay connected and offer insight to their customers and industry. River States recognized that some traditional advertising may be losing its influence on consumers. As a result, they continuously strategize their marketing efforts to stay connected and in front of the consumer as many move toward online outlets for their purchasing decisions.

One such way that River States keeps their customers informed is through their monthly online newsletter, River States E-News. Developed almost 7 years ago, River States E-News provides readers with current industry information and company highlights, and other relevant news to over 1,500 subscribers. In addition, River States advertises weekly in industry related magazines, publications and newsletters in order to reach a broad audience within their marketplace.

Social media outlets including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google Plus have all brought us closer together through “instant messaging (IM)”, “tweets” and “checking-in”. River States use these social media channels to gain customers attention and encourage them to “share”, “post”, “re-tweet” or “like”– the resulting electronic word-of-mouth has been shown to be quite powerful in our marketing efforts.

Along with the newer forms of communication with customers, River States still weighs heavily on face-to-face communication and word-of-mouth to help build and maintain solid customer relationships. With over 44 years in business, existing customer relations have been instrumental in helping grow and promote the River States brand. River States aims to be at the forefront of customer’s minds when it comes to quality customer service. Personal service and face-to-face communication is a major component of what River States is all about. Customers receive their parts orders by a representative of River States instead of using a courier service. This allows both the customer support and sales staff to see customers on a daily basis and become more aware of what the customer’s unique needs, both today and in the future, truly entail.

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