A trucking firm with a growing presence in Springfield is planning to add close to 70 new jobs after securing a contract with GM as the sole firm to haul new medium-duty trucks being produced at Navistar’s Springfield facility.
Wheeler Trucking, based in Flushing, Mich., opened a new location in Springfield last year after securing a deal with GM, which manufactures a cutaway van as part of a joint agreement with Navistar. Wheeler Trucking loads and ships the vans to customers across the U.S. and Canada. GM’s decision to award the new contract to the firm means Wheeler is the sole hauler for both GM vehicles produced in Springfield, said Rex Wheeler, the company’s owner.
The company started with 18 employees, but said last year it planned to employ more than 100 workers in Springfield. The new contract will allow the company to hire about 56 drivers, as well as two mechanics and eight additional employees, Wheeler said. He said the firm will work with the Chamber of Greater Springfield and Ohio Means Jobs Clark County to recruit new employees.
Wheeler also said he previously purchased the former Shoemaker Ford site in Springfield in 2016 and has plans to invest as much as $6 million in the property as his business grows. Wheeler Trucking is also building a new maintenance shop on the property, he said.
The former Springfield Ford dealership was at 5600 Urbana Road and closed in December 2008 at the beginning of an economic recession and at a time when the auto industry was in trouble. The former dealership owner sold the rights back to Ford in May 2008 and ultimately closed when leaders at the company said it wanted to have a smaller dealership presence.
Information from the Clark County Auditor’s Office shows the company has also purchased property at 5532 Urbana Road, 5522 Urbana Road and 5520 Urbana Road. The expansion will allow Wheeler not only to haul trucks being built at Navistar, but also to store vehicles on the property.
The News-Sun has previously reported the new Class 4, 5 and 6 chassis cab trucks will be aimed at fleet and commercial customers. Workers in Springfield have long been preparing for the joint venture with GM to build the trucks. Wheeler said his company will begin shipping the new product to customers across the U.S. and Canada as early as December.
Those trucks will be available in both the International and GM brands, and will be produced with engineering input from both manufacturers.
MORE BUSINESS NEWS: Navistar reports $37M profit after stronger truck sales
Another report from this news organization states near-record demand for heavy trucks is boosting revenue for manufacturers like Navistar and benefiting suppliers and others tied to the industry. Demand from trucking companies for new vehicles led Navistar to a solid third quarter and company officials said earlier this month they expect strong financial results to continue into next year.
Navistar reported net income of $170 million for the third quarter this year, compared to $37 million during the same period in 2017.
The Springfield News-Sun is committed to covering economic news in the city of Springfield and Clark and Champaign Counties.