Aug. 12–You would never guess it from the name, but Minnesota Truck Headquarters got its start as a trailers-only dealership in 2004.
X-treme Trailer Sales began as a front-yard business off Stearns County Road 75 in St. Augusta, where 18-year-old Mike Jordet would help his grandfather and father sell trailers they would drive up from Texas. They would profit $300 per trailer.
But one day, a customer offered the Jordets a 1989 Honda CRX hatchback on trade-in for a single car trailer. They accepted the deal, grabbed a marker and wrote a price on the windshield. They sold the hatchback later that day.
“I remember, we put $1,200 on the windshield and sold it the same day,” Jordet said of his first car sale. “We made three times as much on that car as we made on a trailer. So before you know it, we got in the car business.”
Thirteen years later, MTH has grown into the old Honda House building, a 38,000-square-foot lot at 1805 Minnesota Highway 23 East in St. Cloud, with 32 employees, an inventory of 350 used trucks and a reputation for customization. They made the move Monday. And it’s just part of growth envisioned for the business.
Jordet, 32, is the majority owner of MTH, sharing ownership with his brother, Mat, and father Mark. In the next couple of years, Mark is expected to pass his 20 percent stake to Mat, at which point Mat will own 30 percent to Mike’s 70. Mike and Mat were born and raised in St. Augusta.
Mike Jordet said that when the business switched from selling trailers to cars, it re-branded as StCloudAutoSales.com. They leased a lot just north of Interstate Highway 94 off County Road 75 in St. Cloud, with 15 vehicles all priced under $3,000.
MT began wholesaling vehicles in 2006, selling cars, trucks, vans and SUVs. They even started selling heavy-duty commercial vehicles on eBay.
“We didn’t really find our niche with trucks until 2012,” Jordet said. “That’s when we really got involved selling trucks, and it’s just evolved. We did a good job marketing on Facebook with Minnesota Truck Headquarters, and we now have over 50,000 followers.”
Mat Jordet said they renamed the company Minnesota Truck Headquarters in 2013, a year after opening a second location in St. Joseph to accommodate the rapidly growing business. The St. Joseph lot was stocked with cars, vans and SUVs, while the St. Cloud location specialized in trucks.
“People would call us saying, ‘Are you the truck headquarters?’ ” Mat said. “Because we had so many trucks, we kept hearing it. They kept saying ‘truck headquarters.’ “
Soon after re-branding, they stocked the St. Joseph lot with all the gasoline-powered trucks and had St. Cloud house the diesel and work trucks. MTH still uses the south St. Cloud lot for commercial truck sales.
Mike said they plan to begin brokering to sell new trucks within the next few months.
A family-friendly shopping experience
With a lot full of tricked-out trucks providing entertainment for the adults, Mike Jordet didn’t want the kids to miss out on the fun.
MTH renovated the basement of its dealership as a free arcade. There is Skee-Ball, ping-pong and pool tables, arcade racing games and more. Upstairs, in the showroom, they have a Rainbow Play System for children to play on while their parents shop.
“The car-buying experience has gotten boring,” Denis Czech, general manager of MTH, said. “We’re bringing the fun back to car buying.”
The selection of customized trucks will keep the window shoppers busy, including a $250,000 1997 AMC Hummer H1 that is Baja 500 race-ready. They also have a unique truck that is painted bumper to bumper with Line-X protective coating, something typically used as a durable, spray-on bedliner.
“That’s why we get customers flying in here from all across the country to buy our trucks, because we’re unique,” Czech said. “We just sold a $75,000 truck today to someone down in San Antonio. And that happens all the time.”
Czech said MTH recently set a new sales goal of 100-120 trucks per month.
Those big goals match Central Minnesota’s big appetite for trucks. From May through March, 29 percent of St. Cloud-area vehicle registrations were for trucks, versus 15 percent nationwide.
As customers fly in to buy, Jordet makes plans to go to them
Despite free shipping to 48 states, Mat Jordet said MTH still gets regular business from people flying in to take a closer look at the vehicles they found online.
“They fly in, we pick them up at the (St. Cloud Regional) airport and make it really convenient for them,” Mat said. The airport is 5 miles from the new location.
Mike Jordet said 20 percent of business each month is from online customers who never step foot inside the store. And that business potential outside the state has Jordet thinking big picture.
“Within three years from now, we want to open two more locations,” Jordet said. “Then in five to ten years, we want to have another 10 locations, all strategically placed throughout the country. And then in my lifetime, I want 100 facilities. One hundred dealerships.”
It’s what he calls the 3-10-100 plan, and it’s made possible through lenders’ belief in him.
Jordet said he began MTH with a $1.2 million line of credit from American Heritage National Bank, and their backing has grown to an $8 million line of credit.
“People might say Mike Jordet is a little nuts, but when he says he is going to do something with the business, he is not kidding,” Jordet said. “It’s going to be 3-10-100. God willing, we’re going to have 100 locations in my lifetime.”
(c)2017 the St. Cloud Times (St. Cloud, Minn.)
Visit the St. Cloud Times (St. Cloud, Minn.) at www.sctimes.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.