Insights: Cleveland | Business Spotlight | Fall 2017

Arms Trucking Company: focusing on the customer first

Arms Trucking’s personalized service keeps customers loyal

Arms Trucking Company headquarters
By Kelley Gray

When clients call Arms Trucking Co., they rarely have to wait more than one ring for an answer, by a person, not a machine. That rule originated with Owner and President Howard Bates, who built the bulk supply and long-distance hauling business on the principle that customers come first.

“I remember that being drilled into me as a kid,” says Brian Bates, Howard’s son and the company’s vice president. “The office phone was forwarded to the house, and my dad would always pick it up. We answer phones 24 hours a day.”

That personal touch resonates with the companies and vendors that rely on Arms Trucking year after year.

“I have always believed that creating long-term business relationships would be in our company’s best interest,” Howard Bates says. “Sometimes it’s a struggle to turn down new business, but it’s always been our goal to service current customers first.”

A family legacy

Growing up, Howard Bates greased trucks at Arms Trucking and worked as a driver. In the 1970s, he purchased the company with two partners. Those partners have since retired, but he has continued to grow the company and develop the next generation of Bates leaders. Brian, whose background is in golf management, entered the family business in 2000 to assist with general operations and to help add a golf course supply division, called Arms Turf. His sister, Abbie Logan, joined as an administrator in 2003.

Brian Bates says working at a family business is challenging, but doing so has taught him valuable lessons about taking care of customers and honoring your word. “You never lie to a customer and tell them something to temporarily make them happy,” he says. “And if you make a mistake, you own up to it.”

Bates family members are often the first ones to take on any job, says Controller Steppie Ronyak, who has been with Arms Trucking since 1987. “They care about employees and are extremely hands on,” she says.

Arms Trucking team
Abbie Logan, Secretary, Howard Bates, Owner and President, Brian Bates, Vice President, Arms Trucking Co.
(Photo courtesy of Arms Trucking Co.)

Delivering for customers

Since it was founded in 1953, Arms Trucking has grown its fleet to more than 100 trucks, including dump trucks, pneumatic trucks and flatbeds. The company also stocks and supplies a wide range of bulk materials, including gravel, road salt, landscaping products, sand and custom-blended aggregates.

A typical day includes hundreds of deliveries. “On a busy day, we have over 200 trucks that we’re dispatching out of our office,” Bates says. “We process the orders in minutes instead of hours or days.”

Employing experienced drivers and dispatchers helps the business maintain its high service standards. “Many of our drivers have worked for us for years,” Bates says. “They know the nuances, like where and what time certain customers want their loads delivered. Our deliveries are often made to places with no address, like a farmer’s field.”

Winter is especially busy. Trucks loaded with road salt roll out of the yard day and night to supply the seasonal commercial snowplowing market. The Arms Dock division, a marine terminal in Toledo, also provides access from the Great Lakes to the central United States.

“Our customers know they can count on us,” Bates says. “If we tell the Ohio Turnpike that we will deliver 20 loads of salt, they know they will receive it on time.”

Arms Trucking Co. trucks
On a busy day, over 200 trucks are dispatched from Arms Trucking Co.
(Photo courtesy of Arms Trucking Co.)

Branching out

Navigating seasonal demand and multidivisional growth has been a team effort that includes the company’s bank.

“The team at Huntington takes the time to learn and understand our diverse business structure,” Ronyak says. “They support the demands of an industry related to the weather, and they help us ensure we have the funds we need for new trucks and equipment.”

In 2009, Arms Trucking acquired D.M. Boyd, a leading producer of topdressing sand and construction mixes, and in 2016, it added Arms Sand and Gravel in Newbury, Ohio. This has allowed the company to supply specialty sands and topdressings to world-class golf courses and professional athletic fields such as The Ohio State University football practice fields, the Cleveland Browns, the Cleveland Indians, the Cincinnati Bengals and the Lake County Captains.

“Expanding the turf business has made us more diversified, which helps with the ups and downs of our business,” says Bates.

As it expands its offerings, Arms Trucking will continue to balance steady growth with its commitment to serve its customers and deliver personal service.

“We’ve grown over the years, but we’ve also retained a huge percentage of our longtime customers,” Bates says.

“I have always believed that creating long-term business relationships would be in our company’s best interest.” – Howard Bates, Owner and President, Arms Trucking Co.

Embracing hometown roots

Arms Trucking Co. is committed to bettering the communities in which it operates by supporting local nonprofits and donating transportation services in natural disasters.

Through the D.M. Boyd division, Bates family owners also fund a turf grass scholarship at Penn State University.

“The scholarship is awarded to a student that’s going to school to study turf grass management,” says Vice President Brian Bates. “My dad has always been highly involved with the community, so we want to continue to give back as much as we can.”

Arms Trucking’s East Claridon headquarters has a special significance to its community, as well. The company is housed in the old Claridon Elementary School, parts of which were constructed in the early 1900s.

“We renovated the classrooms into offices,” Bates says. “It was gratifying that we could make good use of the building, rather than having it sit empty.”

For more information, visit

Open sign

Fund your next growth opportunity

For more information about financing your business, contact your Huntington relationship manager or visit our website.
Learn more