Specializing in providing top quality Kenworth trucks, parts and service to clients throughout the Midwest, Palmer Trucks is a privately owned company focused on offerings service and solutions to the transportation industry. The company’s solutions include new and used Kenworth Trucks, diesel, service, parts, financing, leasing, rental, vocational trucks, vocational parts, truck equipment and compressed natural gas (CNG) systems. 

“The company is now celebrating 50 years of business, and that didn’t happen by accident,” CEO John Nichols says. Palmer Trucks is a family business beginning with Eldon Palmer in 1965. John Nichols is also joined at the company by the third generation, Jacob and Scott Nichols. 

“We believe in customer service, doing the right things at the right times, and employing solid people to help our customers. This has been our business and hope to continue for the next 50 years,” he says. 

Wide Reach

Palmer Trucks currently has dealer locations in Indiana in Indianapolis, Fort Wayne, Fremont, Evansville and Terre Haute, as well as Ohio locations in Cincinnati and Dayton. All of these locations have a solid inventory of new and used trucks.

The company works with freight and trucking companies, independent owner/operators independent, and organizations where transportation is a piece of their business but not their main concern. In all market sectors, the company works to understand its customers.

“For example, a customer may be in the business of product distribution, but they are not first and foremost a trucking company,” President Tom Kapitan says. 

“In all segments, we must treat each customer individually and understand their preferences and focus on their needs,” Kapitan adds. 

The Palmer portfolio also includes Palmer Power and Truck Equipment in Indianapolis and leasing locations in Evansville, Indianapolis, Fort Wayne and Terre Haute, Ind.; Louisville and Bowling Green, Ky.; and Dayton and Cincinnati, Ohio. In addition, the company includes the ITC Acceptance Co. division, which has been serving the financing needs of truck owners since 1970.

“It has been important to complement dealership sales with leasing and rental operations while also offering an in-house financing program and having our own fabrication shop that can add sophisticated systems to trucks,” Kapitan says. “Providing a one-stop shop is key.”

Depth of Service

Beyond sales, Palmer Trucks understands the importance of providing a full-service offering in parts and service. The company has access to OEM quality parts for all medium and heavy-duty truck and bus applications, as its parts specialists are can tap into a database of more than 500,000 parts. 

Palmer Trucks is a certified regional distributor for TRP, Cummins, Shell Oil, Airodyne, NeoBrake, Gray Manufacturing Equipment and others. It specializes in Kenworth remove Volvo brand parts, but can assist clients with application parts for all makes. Parts supplied include everything from accessories, A/C parts, air system parts, audio equipment, axles and axle parts, batteries, bearings, belts and coolant hoses, brake parts, bumpers, cold weather aids, cooling systems, driveline parts, and electrical parts to engine parts, exhaust parts, filters, front and rear chassis parts, heater and defroster parts, hose and fittings, lamp and lighting products, mirrors, mud flaps, PTOs, safety equipment, seals, suspensions, seats, transmissions, wheel ends and windshield wipers.

“We’ve seen a lot of growth in our service and parts business,” Nichols says.

Among the services provided by Palmer Trucks are full service, CAT engine repair and warranty, Cummins engine repair and warranty, Paccar MX engine repair and warranty and Allison transmission repair and warranty. The company also offers DOT inspections and DOT repairs, RV service and repair, VIS inspection, DPF cleaning, oil sampling and frame alignment. 

In addition, Palmer Trucks can provide customers with mobile repair and mobile PM service, as well as emergency call service, express lube, express brake and contract maintenance services. 

When it comes to service, Palmer Trucks provides extended hours and fast, reliable service. The company also makes sure that it has an ample supply of parts on hand. 

The company is a certified Kenworth Premier Care parts and service provider that employs factory trained paint and body technicians that are qualified to work on all major manufacturer models. The company repairs in the secondary market with AutoCar, Peterbilt, Volvo, Sterling and all manufacturer brands in addition to Kenworth Trucks.

Palmer Trucks also has worked to be a pioneer in the CNG sector of the automotive industry. It sells used Kenworth CNG tractors, having built one of the first CNG tractor fleets in the secondary market in the country. 

Collaborating with Kenworth, Cummins Westpoint, engineers, sales professionals, technicians and more has been key to this effort. It has helped Palmer Trucks to find success in the Indiana alternative fuel market. 

“We are striving to be a leader in alternative fuel solutions,” Kapitan says. “It is part of our effort to have elements to our business that a typical dealership wouldn’t have.”

Director of Human Resources Jacob Nichols says the people in the company make the biggest impact on its success. Palmer Trucks seeks to employ people with good product knowledge and an ability to go above and beyond for customers. 

“They need to be experts in the field, and we do a lot of training for our workforce,” he says. “We are always looking at how we can make our people better and provide opportunities for them.” 

At the same time, investments in efficiency and technology are critical. Getting customers out on the road requires Palmer Trucks to have the latest tools for its technicians, such as remote diagnostics capabilities. 

“We’ve also expanded our hours,” Nichols says. “Product is being moved constantly, so our customers’ trucks need to work properly. Our leaders, and we believe all of our team members, are always looking for ways we can get better and making sure we have a sense of urgency. Our customers invest a lot of capital in their equipment, and we need to provide them with all of the respect and empathy that we can.”   

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