Talking recession, recovery and history in Oklahoma City with Marvin Rush

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Marvinrush00011Amid recent headlines trumpeting growing manufacturing activity, freight volumes and truck and trailer sales, it’s tempting to look at Rush Enterprises’ expansive new facility in Oklahoma City off I-40 at the Council Road exit as yet another sign of the growing consensus that the Great Recession is either over or nearing its close and the trucking industry is in full-bore recovery. But not so fast, says Rush Chairman W. Marvin Rush (pictured here with Oklahoma Congresswoman and gubernatorial candidate Mary Fallin, on hand for the grand opening in OKC). Chairman Rush was careful to note the long-in-process nature of such a large endeavor as the new sales and service location (also pictured, below) when I sat down with him June 2 at the grand opening. 

“The economy has been very, very bad,” he said, “in the truck business. I’m in my 46th year now — I’ve seen it this bad, but never this long. But it’s turning, and we figured it was going to turn. On this place, we were already committed to building before we really wanted to build it, but it turned out perfect because it’s turning now and we’re going to get ahead of the curve. …

“You read about truck orders picking up, but the problem with that is there are some major fleets…they made big orders, but they’re two-year orders. Problem is, when you pick it apart, there aren’t many [among those trucks] that will be delivered this year.”

All the same, Rush Enterprises continues to expand, with among other developments the recent acquisition of Lake City International, Dsc 0061with dealerships in Utah, Idaho and Oregon. The company is in the planning stages, says Chairman Rush, on new facilities in San Antonio, where the company is headquartered, and Fort Worth, Texas, as well as several other remodels, all coming in the next few years.

The new Rush Truck Center sales and service location in Oklahoma City sits at the corner of the I-40 service road off the Council Road exit west of town and Melvin Young Boulevard, named for a longtime diesel tech with Rush who passed away in 2007. For a video tour of the facility, see below, likewise for video of my conversation with Chairman Rush, in which he details the story of Rush Enterprises’ founding, one heck of a tale — it all starts when Rush as a little boy managed to buy three Coke vending machines outside one of his dads’ Houston bus stations….

Recent flooding in Oklahoma City spared the new facility any significant damage, sources report, in case you were wondering (I know I experienced quite a bit of deja vu yesterday watching news reports, after all that happened here in Nashville) — though the exit off Council Road to the facility as of morning Tuesday, June 15, was still underwater. Drivers needing service were advised to use alternate exits east and west of the Council Road from I-40.   

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