P&R Truck Centre’s location in Nanaimo

BRITISH COLUMBIAVelocity Truck Centres has acquired P & R Truck Centre on Vancouver Island.

A Western Star & Freightliner heavy duty truck dealership based in Vancouver, Velocity now has 18 locations, including the six P & R Truck Centres, in Saanichton, Langford, Victoria (Burnside), Duncan, Campbell River and Nanaimo. Their other locations are in Vancouver/Surrey, Abbotsford, Kelowna, Kamloops, Williams Lake, Terrace, Fort St. John and Prince George (2) and in Alberta: Lloydminster, and Edmonton East and West (2).

Velocity started with its first truck centre in Lloydminster in 1978 and made its first stop in the lower mainland in 2008 by purchasing the Surrey-based Freightliner operation. Abbotsford was opened in 2017, and Velocity acquired James Western Star Truck and Trailer and its eight locations in northern B.C., including Williams Lake, Fort St. John and Prince George. In 2022, they acquired Premium Truck & Trailer, giving them additional locations in Williams Lake and Prince George, as well as Kelowna, Kamloops and Terrace.

Dave Polack, left, owner of P&R Truck Centre receiving a gift from Gerry Schnitzer of Daimler Truck Finance at the grand opening of their Nanaimo location last year.

Velocity has been named one of Canada’s Best Managed Companies for eight years.

Dave Polack, president of P & R Truck Centre, will continue to lead the team on Vancouver Island.

It’s been quite a year for P & R Truck Centre, as they earned Automotive Business of the Year honours at the 2023 MNP LLP Vancouver Island Business Excellence Awards in Victoria last January.

“We were thrilled with the honor, but what it means most to me is really and truly the people that work in our dealerships,” Polack said after receiving the award. “You don’t win this because the owner is a great guy or has a great personality. We have the respect and trust of our customers, and I was thrilled for the recognition, but it was because of our people. We are a customer-driven organization, and that’s how we measure ourselves.”

P & R was started in Saanichton in 1979 by Pat McConnell and Russ Mitcham (the P and the R in the name) as a mechanical and repair service for the construction and transportation industry. In 1984 they became the Western Star truck dealer, adding their full line of trucks, parts and service.

Mitcham retired in 2001 and McConnell became sole owner, and the dealership added Sterling and Mitsubishi Fuso trucks to the lineup. McConnell moved towards retirement in 2014, and Polack purchased the P&R organization on January 1, 2014, bringing with him years of experience as a Western Star dealer and General Manager.

P&R has also become Doepker Trailer and Trail King Industries dealers for Vancouver Island.

“The P&R Truck Centre vision is to give our employees and our customers the business environment where excellence and quality is fostered in every aspect of our business,” Polack states. “Our mission is to lead the Vancouver Island marketplace as the number one provider of trucks, trailers, and services to the transportation industry. We are a truck dealership that encompasses selling new trucks and trailers, repairing them and selling parts.”

Polack said in a Business Examiner profile last year that the strength of the Western Star and Freightliner products has been a major boost, as together, they represent a market share of over 50 percent.

“Our customers running up and down Vancouver Island can have their trucks serviced anywhere from Campbell River to Victoria by the same company, and that’s a pretty strong value proposition,” Polack says. “Knowing they can get good service from people they trust

has helped us, particularly in Nanaimo.”

Although gas-powered vehicles have become increasingly efficient over the years, electric vehicles are becoming popular. Freightliner now has electric vehicles (EVs) in medium duty products, delivery vans and smaller trucks, and Cascadia tractors and trailers are also powered by electricity.

“There are all kinds of alternative products on the way, including hydrogen cells,” Polack notes. “For the trucking industry, EV’s work great, but the batteries are heavy and can take up to half the payload, which makes the trucks fairly inefficient.

“One of the alternative fuels we look after in Nanaimo and Victoria is CNG (Compressed Natural Gas). It is clean burning. The City of Nanaimo’s garbage trucks are CNG powered, and most of the newer transit buses in Nanaimo are as well. We’re very much involved in that type of technology now.”

Business Examiner Staff

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