Big-truck center taking shape in Tolleson

Freightliner of Arizona in Tolleson is a one-stop commercial-truck sales and repair facility that is expected to anchor a new commercial-truck center.

The 184,000-square-foot Freightliner facility, with 200 employees, can fill virtually any trucking or RV need, said Damon Cuzick, a contractor and project manager of the facility.

Just as Avondale has Avondale Auto Mall down the street, Tolleson could have the Tolleson Commercial Truck Center, a facility that Danny Cuzick, Damon’s father, wants to create.

Those plans are moving along. Peterbilt Rush Truck Center, another trucking company, plans to open a facility where the former Freightliner facility was. Another truck dealership may locate in the area as well, but it is premature to say which dealership that would be, said Danny, a 53-year-old Glendale resident.

“So what our hopes are is that we become a commercial-truck destination,” he said.

5 major companies

There are five major commercial-truck companies, and assuming a third comes to the area, three of the big five will be in the commercial-truck complex, said Damon, 31, of Litchfield Park.

Freightliner sells commercial vehicles, including new and used semi-trucks, refuse trucks and recreation vehicles. It sells parts and performs repairs. It also has a body shop.

“We try not to turn anything away,” Damon said. “There isn’t anything we can’t do. From (diagnostics) to frame-straightening to alignments, you name it. We do overhauls. Frankly, that’s why a lot of people come to us. They don’t have to go to several places. We do it all.”

On Feb. 1, Freightliner opened the facility at 9899 W. Roosevelt St., which is on the eastern side of 99th Avenue south of the Interstate 10-Loop 101 junction.

On Tuesday, hundreds of semi-trucks, recreational vehicles, firetrucks and other big trucks sat on the 29 acres that make up the commercial-truck facility.

Lined up in various states of repair or awaiting repair or servicing were firetrucks from Tolleson, Peoria, El Mirage, Salt River, Harquahala, Puerco Valley and Peeples Valley.

And there were commercial trucks of various sizes from such companies as FedEx, Coca-Cola Co. and Frito-Lay.

Freightliner owns 40 acres, leaving it room to expand and to add a solar field, Danny said.

Danny owns Freightliner facilities in Tolleson, Tucson, Chandler and Flagstaff.

“We’re really a commercial-truck business,” Danny said. “We sell firetrucks. We sell street sweepers to 18-wheelers, the over-the-road trucks. We sell RVs — 80 percent of the RVs in today’s world are built on Freightliner chassis. So we do a lot of service and repair work on RVs.”

Danny moved the Tolleson facility from its former location half a block to the east so that it could abut 99th Avenue near the I-10 interchange.

‘Out here on the street’

“When they put in the overpass here, the 101, it didn’t align quite the way we had hoped. It kind of hid our location, but this facility puts us right out here on the street,” he said. “It gives us the needed close proximity to the truck stop right across the street. We still have freeway visibility.”

A Pilot Travel Center is across the street to the west.

The Freightliner facility has an RV park with water, electricity, canopies and barbecue grills. It also has a dog park.

“You would be surprised at the number of RVers and even truckers that come in with dogs,” Damon said. “They are over-the-road guys. They’re on the road all the time, and they have dogs.”

Freightliner has lounges for RV customers and commercial truckers.

Damon said the Freightliner facility was designed to be energy-efficient.

“We use a ton of electricity, and we wanted to be more responsible and for cost savings, obviously. We wanted to reduce our power bill,” he said.

Water reservoirs help keep the air cool, and 20-foot-long blades on the ceiling fans move the air, significantly lowering air-conditioning costs.

“We wanted to be able to cool the facility, the shop and the warehouse without the air-conditioner but still be able to keep the same ambient temperature as we would be able to if we had an air-conditioner going,” Damon said.

The roof has additional insulation, and the windows are highly reflective.

“We tied this energy efficiency to the flow of the buildings,” Damon said. “In our previous facility, we were in separate buildings. Everything was separated. This facility, we brought everything into one building. That’s why it looks so much bigger than the other place. Really, the square footage is about the same.”

With service, parts and sales in one building, “that really helps from a synergistic standpoint,” Damon said. “The parts guys and the salesmen can send customers back and forth. The service people can get their parts easily. Everybody is working together in one building. From an efficiency standpoint in the business, it’s helped.”

Tolleson Mayor Adolfo Gámez said the truck center will be good for his city and makes sense in that corridor.

“It’s going to be positive for us,” Gámez said. “It looks really nice there. It looks like a dealership, but they’re not selling cars, they’re selling trucks.”