The ongoing boom of gas and agriculture industries in Colorado is helping Weld County earn a new reputation as a truck-selling capital of the region.
With the two blue-collar professions flexing their muscles locally during the past couple years, truck sales at Greeley dealerships have skyrocketed. Already coming off of a record-breaking sales year in 2011, Bob Ghent, owner of Ghent Chevrolet Cadillac, said truck sales at his business through May 15 were 45 percent ahead of what they were during the first four and a half months a year ago.
That ongoing explosion in truck sales seems to be specific to Greeley, according to numbers provided by the Denver Marketing Center. A report released by that organization showed truck sales for all Chevrolet dealerships along the Front Range are only up 1.6 percent over last year.
"Not everyone else is experiencing what we're seeing here," Ghent said. "We're lucky to have this oil and gas activity. There's no doubt that, along with the success in farming during the past couple years, is what's driving our sales."
At the same time that giants of the oil and gas industry have been flocking to the area to tap in to the massive, oil-bearing Niobrara formation that sits under the surface, farmers in Weld -- already recognized as some of the most productive in the nation -- have been taking advantage of high commodity prices during the past couple years, with many bringing in record incomes in 2011.
And the success of the two truck-dependant industries has been trickling down.
If farmers are going to buy new trucks during the year, it comes in November and December, after producers have sold the crops they harvested in the fall, as was explained by Mark Cook, managing partner for Spradley Barr Ford Lincoln in Greeley.
And producers showed up in droves at his dealership toward the end of last year, he noted. Cook said he already was pleased aplenty with sales in 2010, as they had increased by 15 percent from 2009. But he hadn't seen anything yet at that point.
With farmers having a good year, truck sales at Spradley Barr in November 2011 were up 46 percent compared to those of November 2010, and truck sales this past December topped December 2010's by 43 percent.
Year-to-date retail truck sales are up 25 percent above where they were last year for Spradley Barr, while its fleet truck sales -- vehicles sold in bulk to businesses, like oil and gas companies -- are 75 percent ahead of last year.
In addition to Colorado, Spradley Barr has dealerships in New Mexico, Wyoming, Utah and South Dakota, and of all of the dealerships in that five-state region, the Greeley location has finished second within the company for fleet truck sales during the past two years -- trailing only the dealership in Denver.
"But with the growth we've seen so far in 2012, I'm not going to be surprised we're No. 1 at the end of this year," Cook said. "It's amazing what the oil and gas industry is doing for us and for a lot of the local economy."
Warren Yoder at Weld County Garage in Greeley said truck sales at his dealership jumped 20 percent from 2010 to 2011, and thus far, truck sales in 2012 are outpacing last year's by about 8 percent.
In addition to truck sales, local dealerships are servicing many of the vehicles they sell, as well as the influx of other trucks coming to the area because of increased oil and gas activity, which is bringing even more money to their businesses.
"It's really benefitted us in a number of ways," Ghent said of the boom in local oil and gas industry, as well as the success of the local agriculture economy. "It's really helped pull us out of the recession.
"We're grateful for what it's done."
Source: Greeley Tribune, CO