Dealer Spotlight: Custom-built trailers with a focus on customer service
September 14, 2016
Pace American trailers with a side of Southern charm
Drive up to Rides the Wind Trailers’ two acres in Covington, Georgia, and you’ll most likely be welcomed by a couple of large but lovable bullmastiffs, Samson and Brutus. These two customer-favorites come to the dealership each day with owners Matt and Angie Johnson, offering an added bonus to an already friendly and customer service-oriented shop. In their current location since 2010, along the access road of I-20, Rides the Wind Trailers is a bit of an oasis for consumers looking for their very own Pace American custom-built trailers. And, while not every trailer is in need of customization, this dealership has its very own shop equipped to handle simple to special customizations for clients with every assortment of want and need.
We recently had the pleasure of speaking with Angie Johnson — who just may be the definition of Southern charm — over the phone in Covington, where she says Rides the Wind Trailers offers its customers, “… the best parts and service location for trailers East of Atlanta.” She even goes on to say that while Rides the Wind Trailers is the only dealership between Atlanta and Augusta that offers trailer service and parts, there is competition out there offering customizations. However, “We can do pretty much any kind of customization, and have customers who can’t seem to find anyone anywhere else to do these special things … people seem to love working with us and we are very appreciative.”
Matt and Angie had been developing the idea of building custom trailers since 1999, officially incorporating their business in 2001. As Angie put it, “[We] started with literally nothing and now we have a nice small business which should gross over $2 million this year.” That folks, is no beginners’ luck. This humble business didn’t even begin as a Pace American dealer. As Angie puts it, “[Look representative Marc Peacock] pulled up with a Look Trailer and we’ve been loyal to Look, and now Pace American, ever since.” So impressed with that very first Look trailer (Pace and Look both exist under the LGS Industries umbrella), the team stopped carrying the competition to exclusively sell LGS brands. Thanks to this fortuitous moment, they’ve built a strong relationship with Marc, especially praising him as a huge help, and a fantastic representative who is both knowledgeable and accessible when they need him.
As for the Rides the Wind Trailer staff, it’s comprised of a mixture of salespeople with lots of talent and experience, including Angie’s retired mother who she described as “invaluable” and a handful of older sales associates that “…make up for their age with their knowledge about the products.” Rides the Wind Trailers is especially proud of their strong support of law enforcement and military service members. And, it shows. Part of their staff includes two sub-contractors who are also Vietnam Vets, both Army and Navy. Angie states that “their knowledge and experience cannot be overstated.” This means that Rides the Wind Trailers is more than ready to handle anything a customer should need when it comes to purchasing their own custom-built Pace American trailer, with a proof of support that is built into the business model.
Last month, we posted a spotlight article on Billy Rhodes, his award-winning BBQ business and Pace American. Rides the Wind Trailers was the dealership responsible for that particular sale, helping Billy Rhodes customize his unit as well as maintaining a long-standing relationship with Billy, as they do with the rest of their customers. In fact, Angie knows her customers well, recalling that for Billy’s sale they included a custom kitchen area with stainless cabinets and sink, as well as a bath and room for a folding sofa or air mattress in his 24-ft custom BBQ trailer. Proving once again that they know their stuff, Billy is just one of many BBQ competitors that trusts the Rides the Wind Trailers’ sales crew to produce a solid and reliable custom trailer for their business. Other names in the BBQ biz that have purchased from them include Big Jim Stancil of Bareknuckles BBQ and Tommy Houston of Checkered Pig.
Surprisingly enough, Matt and Angie’s now-flourishing custom-built trailer business wasn’t something they had in mind early on. The two of them actually started their own Karate School in 1993. Beginning in Matt’s early teens, and Angie in her early 20’s, the two of them have been prominent in martial arts, each one earning their own Black Belts. Years of that kind of hand-to-hand competition can take its toll, as can running two businesses simultaneously, which they did for 8-9 years. So, the two of them sold the Karate School in 2008 and have focused on custom trailers full-time ever since. Rides the Wind Trailers began with a focus on motorcycle trailers, as motorcycles were quite popular in the late 90’s. “… we had this thought of building trailers that were beautiful inside and out for all the custom choppers and bikes…” Angie went on to speak of their transition from motorcycle trailers to all-purpose trailers that includes vending, mobile office and more. “Trailers begin as a shell and we need to nail down all the details the customers want.” Big or small, simple or special, typical to unique, there isn’t a custom-built trailer that this team hasn’t seen. Angie goes on to say that, “So many Pace American customers will work with us and often need non-standard trailer stuff, so we work with Pace American and we try to make it happen for them. Most of the time, Pace American does.” And, even if it’s a custom piece they haven’t done before, Pace American will typically respond with, “We need to figure this out.” It’s that kind of attention to their customers’ needs that sets Rides the Wind Trailers apart.
Angie wants to stress that their customer service is key to what they do. “We want customers to have a good experience, to come back to us to solve issues. We’re proud about what we do, able to help the people in the community.” For this Georgia dealership, the customer-dealer relationship is about trust. When a customer comes to them for a motorcycle trailer or any type of custom-built trailer, Angie wants to make it clear that, “We stand behind what we sell … that’s why we don’t offer inferior products.” She goes on to say that, “When customers have issues, that falls more on the dealership’s reputation than it does on the product,” so Rides the Wind Trailers works closely with anyone looking to solve any issues. And they take it very seriously, offering up a reason that more customer-service agents in any field should employ. “It’s not about the issues themselves, it’s about how you take care of them that helps you succeed.”
While a great dealership can often make the difference, Pace American custom-built trailers often speak for themselves. Angie couldn’t speak highly enough about the quality they find in each trailer on their lot, listing the use of LED lights as one of the huge benefits provided by a Pace American trailer. Speaking about some of their clients’ custom trailers in particular, they helped build a “testing” trailer in collaboration with Pace American for a global gas pipeline company headquartered right in their hometown. It even included LED pit lights that were special ordered for them by Pace. Another trailer built for tool and equipment manufacturer Atlas Copco included a TV mounted inside the vending window so they could send it around to display their products. Not just for large corporations, Rides the Wind Trailers sold a “beautiful black car hauler built for a customer’s very rare 1963 split-window 4-speed Corvette.”
So, next time you’re down South and need your own custom-built trailer or even one to take straight off the lot, make sure Rides the Wind Trailers is a must-stop, since you’d be hard-pressed to find another dealership that makes you feel like a member of the family with your satisfaction in mind. As Angie put it best, “We try not to say no. We don’t want to shut people out of what their dreams are.” Need we say more?
Rides the Wind Trailers
Matt & Angie Johnson
2765 Access Road
Covington, GA 30016