Robert H. Dunlap and Billie Shepard Sr., have found the foundation of youth, staying healthy and passionate about business and customer service. They help direct and manage Dunlap & Kyle, plus its retail tire store, Gateway Tire and Service Centers, which has 58 locations throughout the central part of the United States.
Dunlap, 87, began a new career as owner of Dunlap & Kyle Company back in 1954 following his career as an officer in the Navy. Shepard, who turns 90 next year, purchases trucks for the company and serves as executive assistant to Dunlap, who is chairman of Dunlap & Kyle.
They oversee the tire wholesale division of Dunlap & Kyle, Gateway Tire Service Wholesale, and Hesselbein Tire Wholesale, which are all under the Dunlap & Kyle corporate umbrella. Each of the tire stores and are supported by Dunlap & Kyle’s 16 warehouses – with three more scheduled to open this year.
From left are Robert H. Dunlap, chairman of Dunlap & Kyle; and Billie Shepard Sr., executive assistant to Dunlap.
“Warehouses range in size from 200,000 to 600,000 square feet and they are located in seven states,” said Shepard, who has been working with Dunlap since 1954. “We have a fleet of 300 vehicles – ranging from Class 8 trucks to delivery vans – and those make tire deliveries to our own stores, as well as hundreds of independent dealers. Plus, we do some warehouse-to-warehouse tire moves.”
The company has 134 Kenworths in its fleet, purchased primarily through MHC Kenworth – Memphis with more on order. Shepard said Kenworth has been the only brand it’s been ordering over the past several years. “We first made the move to Class 6 Kenworth T270s and now operate 125 of them,” he said. “We wanted a workhorse truck optimized with the specs we need and Kenworth was the best choice. We’ve been very pleased, and our drivers love driving the trucks because they’re comfortable to drive and they like being seen driving Kenworths.”
Spec’d with the PACCAR PX-9 engine, rated at 270-hp, and driven through Allison automatics, the Kenworth T270s are fitted with 28-foot boxes, which can hold up to 400 tires. “They typically operate within a 150-mile radius of their assigned warehouse and make multiple drops before returning to the home base,” said Shepard.
“We run Class 5 Kenworth T170s equipped with 18-foot boxes, 220-hp engines and automatic transmissions, and Kenworth T680 day cabs with 450-hp engines driven through 10-speed manuals. We also have cargo vans to round out our equipment. So, depending upon the volume of tires we need to deliver, we can pick and choose which truck or van to use.”
According to Shepard, the company’s business has been built on a reputation of service. “It really has,” he said. “When a customer calls in for tires, if they don’t have in-stock, we get the tires delivered very quickly. So, we put a lot of trust in our trucks to deliver and it’s the main reason we’ve been purchasing Kenworths. We can’t afford downtime. That’s the biggest reason we turned to Kenworth reliability and uptime.”
Shepard works with MHC Kenworth to determine his Kenworth truck specs. “Equipment and technology are changing. We like to stay up to speed on what we can offer our drivers in the Kenworths,” said Shepard, who noted that the company has several drivers with 30 or more years behind the wheel. “I started my truck driving career in 1944 when I got commercial license number 6414 from the Mississippi Highway Patrol for 25 cents. Trucking and driving is in my blood, and I still enjoy the spec’ing process. There’s a sense of pride to be doing this at my age. I do what I do best. I know trucks. I never intend on retiring, even though I turn 90 next year,” he said.
“Dunlap & Kyle is a great company with great people dedicated to servicing our customers. We service our dealers and independents with tires in an on-time manner, and the sales team is dedicated to our tire dealers. They, in turn, can best provide tires and service to their customers. We have to get the tires to our dealers every day, no questions asked. We’re all joined together, and it all has to start with dependable Kenworth trucks,” said Shepard.
Kenworth is The Driver’s Truck. See what drivers are saying at www.kenworth.com/drivers.
Kenworth Truck Company is the manufacturer of The World’s Best® heavy and medium duty trucks. Kenworth’s Internet home page is at www.kenworth.com. Kenworth is a PACCAR company.