VOLVO

Robert Brooks stands inside the showroom of his family’s new Volvo & Mack Trucks distributorship at Interstate 35 and Sun Valley Boulevard in Robinson’s industrial district. The facility services about 40 vehicles a day and ships parts within a 100-mile radius of Waco.

Staff photo— Jerry Larson

A multimillion-dollar Volvo & Mack Trucks sales and service center has opened in the Robinson industrial park, a big-rig mecca at Interstate 35 and Sun Valley Boulevard.

Owner Dennis Brooks actually moved into the 35,000-square-foot building in December, but has scheduled a grand opening celebration for Tuesday night. The business has become a family affair, with wife Marilyn overseeing the financial details and son Robert supervising sales.

The licensed distributorship sells Volvo and Mack trucks priced between $95,000 and $135,000. It has 34 employees, including 10 diesel technicians, who can perform tasks ranging from lube jobs and washes to complete engine overhauls. They also deliver parts to users within a 100-mile radius.

“Our work bays are 100 feet long, and we can have 25 to 30 vehicles under one roof at any time,” Dennis Brooks said.

Brooks said his contractor built the facility with energy savings and the environment in mind.

“On a partly cloudy day, we don’t even have to turn on the lights because of our skylights and our highly polished floors that reflect light,” said Brooks, adding that conservation efforts extend to such features as hand dryers in the restrooms instead of paper towels.

For several years, Volvo & Mack Trucks leased about 26,000 square feet in the Stewart & Stevenson location in the park. But with volume revving up to 40 big rigs a day in need of attention, the Brooks family decided to build a separate facility on 10 acres nearby.

The Volvo Group, which now includes Mack Trucks, is a publicly held company with headquarters in Goteborg, Sweden, though all Volvo and Mack tractors and diesel engines are built in the United States. The company enjoyed worldwide sales of $38 billion last year.

Mike Dobbs, operations manager for Stewart & Stevenson, said the company will take the balance of the building Volvo & Mack is leaving. It will have more than 40,000 square feet in which to provide parts and service for Detroit Diesel, Mercedes and MTU engines and Allison transmissions.

It was among the first companies to take space in the industrial park, opening there in 2002.

Longtime Waco businessman Eddie Gummelt has been the driving force behind the mixed-use development at I-35 and Sun Valley Boulevard. He started with a residential component, subdividing a sea of ravines and sunflowers into what became Surrey Ridge, now covered with about 500 homes and duplexes.

Then came a 256-acre industrial buffer between the houses and the highway, where Gummelt has sold lots as prospects made offers.

“I’ve been blessed in that it has done very well,” Gummelt said. “One thing seems to draw another.”

More users are on the horizon, said Tracy Lankford, the city of Robinson’s director of planning. He said shipping giant FedEx has submitted drawings for a 42,000-square-foot facility where “items would be transferred from one 18-wheeler to others for distribution.”

“They are wanting 15 to 18 acres,” Lankford said, “and another company I’m not at liberty to name is looking at another tract.”

Lankford said Robinson’s location in the heart of the state has served it well in attracting trucking services.

“And from the industrial district, you can drive a quarter of a mile at the most to get on I-35 in either direction,” he said.