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Heavy-truck dealer adds Volvo to lineup



Published: Sun, January 20, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



By CYNTHIA VINARSKY

VINDICATOR BUSINESS WRITER

AUSTINTOWN -- A longtime Mahoning Valley truck dealer expects to grab a bigger share of the regional market with the addition of Volvo truck sales and service to its dealership.

R & amp;R Inc. at 44 Victoria Road will be displaying Volvo trucks in its showroom starting in February, along with its usual inventory of Mack and Isuzu cabs and chassis.

And the word is already out that R & amp;R has begun servicing and supplying parts for Volvo trucks. Company president Dan Ralich said mechanics are getting a "tremendous amount" of calls from Volvo drivers wanting service appointments.

Ralich, 75, said he already has truck dealerships in Cleveland and New Castle, Pa., as well as Austintown, and wasn't looking to add a new brand.

"Volvo came after us," he said, "They wanted a dealership for the area with a strong service department. We've always been known for good parts and service."

Service area: R & amp;R will be Volvo's truck dealership serving the territory between Lorain, Ohio, and Butler County, Pa.

Both Volvo and Mack produce heavy-duty, Class 8 truck cabs and chassis, he said, but Volvo is better known for its freight and steel haulers and other over-the-road vehicles, while Mack is best known for its dump trucks and construction vehicles.

For that reason, Ralich expects to see R & amp;R's transient-service business grow dramatically with the addition of the Volvo brand as truckers passing through the area stop off for repairs or parts.

The dealership's Victoria Road site is near several major highway interchanges, including the one at Interstate 80-state Route 46 and the Mahoning Avenue gate at Exit 15 of the Ohio Turnpike. Ralich said R & amp;R's service hours -- 7 a.m. to midnight -- are also designed to accommodate transient truck traffic.

R & amp;R has already captured about 18 percent of the heavy truck sales business in the Youngstown-Warren area with its Mack trucks, he said. Now, as the Valley's only Volvo truck dealership, the owners believe its market share is sure to grow.

Its Isuzu trucks give the company a market share in the smaller Class 4 truck business.

Owner's background: A native of Aliquippa, Pa., Ralich ran his own trucking business for 10 years and worked as a district truck sales manager for General Motors before deciding to open a heavy-truck dealership in 1965. He started with Mack truck sales and service at 715 Mahoning Ave. in Youngstown.

Sales were good, and two years later, the dealership broke ground on a new, 32,000-square-foot facility in Austintown, the first business to open on what would become an industrial park on Victoria Road.

Ralich said he's never been concerned that the site is off the main thoroughfare. The dealership is well-known, he said, and customers who don't know the business can call an 800 number for the brand they like to get directions to the nearest dealership.

In 1984 R & amp;R added a dealership in New Castle, and in 1987 it bought a Mack dealership in Cleveland which Ralich later relocated to Garfield Heights.

Evelyn Savich, Ralich's daughter, is vice president of the family business, and Dave Hutter, a son-in-law, is secretary-treasurer. Together the three dealerships employ about 100 people.

The success of the business has made it possible for Ralich to sponsor an annual football banquet at Mr. Anthony's Banquet Center where the best high school linemen in the Youngstown and New Castle areas are recognized with Mack Trophies.

Ralich sees the event as a community service, and he says Ohio State University football coach Jim Tressel has told him the Mack Trophy is recognized and respected by all the major university football programs.

vinarsky@vindy.com




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