Raney’s: Revolutionizing the Truck Parts Industry
Trucking is a critical component of the global economy, and parts retailers are essential in keeping the industry humming smoothly. For those in the commercial trucking business, finding and sourcing truck parts can be a real challenge. Traditionally, the process of finding parts involves either driving to a retailer or making multiple phone calls, both of which can be time-consuming and inefficient.
Ocala’s Raney’s LLC is changing all that. Launched in 2010 and a separate branch from Raney’s Truck Center—the latter a staple in the trucking industry since 1957—Raney’s online platform for selling heavy-duty truck parts and accessories has proven to be a game-changer for truckers and fleet managers to access the parts they need quickly and easily.
A trusted and familiar name in the trucking industry in Central Florida for providing truck parts, accessories, as well as customization and maintenance services, Raney’s is now a household name in the trucking industry around the country, thanks to its online e-commerce store that allows users to easily access parts and aftermarket alternatives, saving truckers valuable time and money.
Back in 2010, Mark Raney recognized the need for a more accessible way to purchase essential trucking supplies and tasked his son, Joel, with figuring out how to enter the online marketplace. Raney’s LLC was launched that year by Joel, who is now the company’s CEO; along with his cousin, Jacob Chak, who is no longer with the company; Zach Combs, Raney’s general manager today; and Eric Anderson, Raney’s project manager.
“It all started out of a little house my father owned,” related Joel Raney, who studied civil engineering at the University of South Florida and graduated in 2010. “My father wanted us to find a way to sell parts online, so that was the goal. We tapped into the aftermarket space, and we were able to grow quickly because there weren’t a lot of people selling parts and accessories to the trucking industry online. It is a unique niche.
“Selling parts for semi-trucks isn’t the same as selling shoes. So many truck parts don’t fit in a shoebox,” he continued. “We sell a diverse number of products and shipping some of them can be difficult. You have bumpers, hoods, all the way down the line to lug nuts. In a way, the difficulty is kind of what shields the industry from a big box store trying to come in and enter the industry. It’s a technical industry, too, and you must have a sales staff that knows the product and can relate to the customer. That’s where we really excel. We are second-to-none in customer service. Our sales department creates lifelong relationships with these truck drivers, and the drivers know when they call, they are dealing with someone who knows the industry, cares about the industry, and can relate to them.”
Raney’s user-friendly online store is a prime example of how technology is revolutionizing the trucking industry. Providing a much-needed solution to the challenges faced by trucking businesses in sourcing essential supplies, Raney’s concept is designed to make the process of locating truck parts easier, faster, and more efficient. With a massive inventory of top-quality truck parts and accessories from leading manufacturers at its 123,000-square-foot warehouse on West Silver Springs Boulevard, just east of Interstate 75, Raney’s opened an 11,000-square-foot showroom and retail space onsite in 2019 and is now a one-stop shop for truck drivers looking to customize their vehicles.
“Going from where we started to housing everything under one roof with our warehouse and all the departments and then opening the showroom and retail store has been a huge victory for us,” Raney said. “Opening the showroom was especially exciting for everybody. That gave us respect and more authority. If you just have an online presence, customers can always ask, ‘Who is Raney’s?’ Now we have the storefront that says, ‘This is who we are.’
“We wanted a showroom since we launched the business from our homes,” he added. “It was an awesome victory. It was a great feeling, and we celebrated it together as a team. That was a big moment in our history. And the showroom has done even better than we projected. We have a great team out there and a great store manager. The location and proximity to the interstate are huge. This is the largest showroom in Florida, so when drivers come and see it, it is an experience for them.”
Having grown from just a four-person team at the beginning, Raney’s now employs 110 people and is still growing. The sustained growth Raney’s has experienced has generated interest from private equity firms in recent years and just last year Raney’s sold a majority of the company to Incline Equity Partners headquartered in Pittsburgh, PA.
“We have been on a very strong run, 10-plus years of very solid growth year over year,” Raney explained. “I felt like, ‘Wow, this is an amazing run. How do we ensure that the success continues? How do we gear up to prepare for the future if that level of growth is difficult to sustain?’
“I came to the realization that to get us to the next level, it would be nice to have some help to do that with,” he continued. “We sold a majority of the company, and in a way, we took some chips off the table and locked in all that success and growth. It’s a weight off my shoulders and my father’s shoulders to be able to celebrate that moment, but I wasn’t ready to walk away from the company. This is my family, and I consider everyone here an extension of my family. It was the best of both worlds that I could cash out quite a bit of our ownership but still roll back in some ownership, too. I still have a double-digit ownership stake as well, and I am still heavily invested. We chose Incline Equity because we felt they valued our culture and wouldn’t come in here and be super hands-on, but instead be a more high-level, strategic partner with capital to go out and do acquisitions and invest. They have been a great partner now for six months. They’ve been everything they said they would be.”
Raney’s commitment to customer satisfaction has been a key driver of the company’s success.
“In the end, it always comes back to the team,” Raney said. “I would put our team up against anybody. We have an amazing team, effective team leads, and high-quality people in every department. When customers shop with us, they really do become part of the Raney’s family. When they feel that, it drives repeat business. When these truck drivers invest in their trucks, it is expensive, and they are big investments. They are going to own them for a long time.
“If we are successful in earning a customer, they are going to shop with us for 10 years or more,” Raney added. “We still have drivers that Zach and I built relationships with back when we first started and only had four employees. They still buy from us today. It’s neat to see.”
As far as acquiring new talent, Raney insists a background in the trucking industry is surprisingly not a prerequisite.
“We don’t ever look for people that have experience in the trucking industry,” he shared. “It’s not a requirement. What we look for are people with a strong desire to come in and make a difference. Our interview process is focused on work ethic and personality. We look at how well a prospective hire will fit into our business model, our culture, and our atmosphere.
“If you keep adding people that want to be around each other, that fosters a positive feeling and creates a healthy work environment that people can enjoy,” he continued. “If they are happy, the customer is going to hear that happiness in their voice, and other people are motivated to work with people like that. We focus on hiring personality and culture fits and then we teach them about the trucking business. This approach has worked really well for us, and I think it is something we get right. A big part of our success has been building a team of people that really want to be here and make a difference. We have a lot of people on our team that have come here from somewhere else, including our first CFO (Ashlee Weisser) who recently moved here from Tennessee with her family. We want to keep the right people in the right seats. Once we get a good employee, we want to keep them.”
Joel credits his father for shaping much of his business acumen.
“Growing up, I saw him working deals and talking on the phone,” Raney said. “He would always drive home the fact that you must take care of the customer and take care of your team. I would see all of that and I also worked summers in the business, cleaning (service) bays and things like that.
“When we started the business in 2010, I didn’t even know trucks,” he added. “Of course, I knew the makes and models, but I didn’t know what fits what. Customers would call and ask us questions like, “Do you have this part for this truck?’ I would put them on hold and immediately call the manufacturer to see what the customer needed. As far as the technical aspect of the business, I had to learn on the job as we grew. In terms of the business aspect, I learned most everything from my father, and for culture, we have always looked at Zappos as a role model.”
When asked how the team at Raney’s measures success, Raney said, “A lot of our success comes from what people think about our brand. We look at what the customer reviews say. Are they talking about us in a positive way? The other way we gauge success outside of the numbers is how our team feels about us. Are they excited to be here? If not, what are we missing and what do we need to do to improve? With the growth we have experienced, keeping the culture the same becomes more difficult. Since we are so busy with multiple projects, we depend on our culture team and the HR team, which play important roles in our company.”
Being CEO of the company comes with a unique set of challenges for Raney, including managing a vast network of suppliers, navigating supply chain logistics, and leading teams on the frontlines.
“It’s stressful, all the ups and downs of business, and it can take an emotional toll,” he admitted. “I’m very thankful for the team that surrounds me. It helps to offload some of the stress, and it is reassuring to know that it’s not just me shouldering everything. I have a lot of people here to share it with and a lot of people I can depend on.”
While Raney’s has grown significantly from its nascent stages, there have been obstacles to overcome. Parts suppliers have faced significant challenges in recent years because of the COVID-19 pandemic, including shipping issues and inflation. Despite facing increased costs and extended delivery times, Raney’s has managed to maintain its supply chain and keep up with demand. Raney’s has also had to navigate inflationary pressures, which have driven up the cost of products. Nevertheless, Raney’s has worked hard to maintain its competitive pricing, and its commitment to quality service has helped the company weather the challenges.
“Inflation has had a huge impact,” Raney said. “You used to be able to buy a bumper for a typical truck for $350. Now, it costs over $500. So, we are seeing big-time price increases. Normally, we would see 5 to 10 percent price increases from our vendors maybe every other year or so. Now, we are experiencing 20 percent increases and, in some cases, several times a year. The cost of products has gone up a lot. And then when you factor in lead times and shipping, it has been a nightmare at times.
“While we had a surge of growth, at the same time we also had the supply issues,” he added. “So, we had a massive demand without any supplies. The amount of stress that was put on our warehouse team and our customer service team, as well as human resources trying to hire more staff to help with the growth, was just enormous. Getting enough personnel and enough inventory was challenging, but a lot of that has eased up. It’s all gotten a lot better recently. The cost of shipping has normalized a bit, and that’s a good thing. This year has started out strong, and we’re enjoying the ride.”
Whether it is brake pads, bumpers, or suspension systems, Raney’s has clearly helped revolutionize the trucking industry and has grown into a go-to source that supplies everything truckers need to keep their vehicles running smoothly. As a result, Raney’s appears well-positioned for the future and any uncertainty that could come with it.
“The trucking industry is a critical industry,” Raney said. “It’s not going anywhere. If they ever get the mega-battery situation figured out, we might see some EVs (electronic vehicles) enter the trucking industry down the road, and we’ll be ready for that.
“I expect the trucking industry to continue to grow,” he added. “Our goal is to spread Raney’s brand. We’re a leader in the industry, and that is great and all, but we want to dominate the industry and make sure that everyone in the trucking industry has an opportunity to experience the Raney’s brand.”
If there is one objective that Raney has yet to see through to fruition, it is the dream of having a truck show in Ocala.
“One day, we really want to host a big truck show here, which would be very cool for Ocala,” Raney shared. “We could do a truck parade and a tour of Ocala. It would be complex to figure out, but we have the space, the customer base, and vendor support. Maybe we can do something in the next year or two. It would be great for Ocala.”