Holst Truck Parts of Ucon, Idaho has been in continuous operation for 85 years with at least one member of the family always at the helm. James “Ted” Holst started a welding and repair shop in 1932, working on automobiles, farm equipment, trucks, anything that was mechanical. The shop started in the early years of the Depression, and people were unable to afford new equipment, so repairs became common. Then came World War II, and manufacturing was directed towards the war effort and people continued to repair and maintain what they already had. Holst began to build up a small supply of different parts as he went about his business, and, eventually, people began asking to buy them. In this way, Holst’s salvage yard was born.
The business continued to grow and establish itself, and in 1972 Ted Holst retired. The company was headed now by his son Jon and his wife, Shauna. Under their stewardship, Holst Truck Parts grew from 2 – 3 employees to the almost 30 they have today. As in many successful family businesses, this growth didn’t necessarily happen because someone went away to study theories and cases, returning later to apply this knowledge. The growth that Holst’s experienced under Jon came instead from dedication, commitment, and hands-on-learning: Jon Holst had worked with his father during childhood and adolescence. When he took over the company, his strong work ethic saw him involved in every aspect of the business, from buying salvage to pulling parts off trucks to working at the counter and selling inventory. His complete exposure to all aspects of the business paid off, and the company developed steadily.
Jon was also able to understand the need for adaptability and openness in running a business, and this was seen in particular in 1994 when the company first went to a DOS computer system. Although Jon initially hesitated to take the step (everything was already in his head and in a catalog system), the investment paid off: the organization and availability of the data made possible through the use of a computerized system made everything more efficient and easy-to-use. After that, in 2014, there was the creation of a website and then advertising online. With these last two innovations, Holst Truck Parts went from being a regional company to an international one, shipping not just within the United States but also to Canada and elsewhere.
In the middle of these transitions to a greater use of technology, Jon’s sons, Chris and Mike, began working in the company. Like their father, they had grown up alongside the salvage yard, playing in cement truck barrels and climbing on top of school buses as children, and later, as teenagers, joy-riding in all sorts of new inventory. Both of them developed a love for trucks and spent summers learning different parts of the business. Now, as co-owners along with Jon and Shauna, they are completely involved and committed, bringing dedication and a desire to serve their customer well.
A key component of their business is just this: customer service. And not just in terms of answering questions well or being polite (although that is also extremely important), but in genuinely taking care of the customer. Chris Holst considers the company to be a contributor to the industry and a solution to the customer’s needs. He says that, for example, the “agriculture business is a major part of what we do, and with commodity prices flat and the cost of production up, we feel we ease the burden of a lot of our customers. We owe it to our customers, it’s why we are here.” For Chris, their customer base is exceptional, and he finds happiness in interacting daily with new and long-term clients. He feels he owes it to their customers to do their best, because they are why Holst’s exists.
For Holst Truck parts then, excellence in their yard comes from commitment, dedication, and service, as well as openness to new ideas and ways of doing things. The business is a family affair, and its sincere engagement with its client creates yet another family, that of return and happy customers.