Businesses grow with opportunity
By Eric Mathes
The Primary Companies operates with over 55 trucks and 200 trailers, providing trucking and logistic services headquartered in Brillion. Eric Mathes photo

What started in 1997 with five trucks on the road, has grown today into 55 trucks, over 200 trailers, and 75 employees for Primary Companies in Brillion.

“It’s amazing where the time goes,” said President Doug Buboltz.

Buboltz got his start in the trucking business at the ripe age of 18, though not as a driver.

“It was just a job while I was in school,” he said. “The more I worked into it, the more it intrigued me.”

The trucking and logistics industry appealed to Buboltz through the business and financial side.

“I could see the value in it,” Buboltz said. “It’s what moves goods and services around the country. It’s so vital to the world we live in. Without it, everything would come to a halt.”

Buboltz enjoyed watching all of the pieces come together like a puzzle. When something needed to get from Point A to Point B, he enjoyed connecting the pieces in between.

“As I’ve grown, I’ve realized that what drives this industry, is the customer service we provide,” he said. “Going beyond the expectations to deliver the best service possible. That’s what drives me.”

As an eager young entrepreneur, Buboltz grew his businesses by finding solutions to their problems, no matter what.

He said, “We don’t like to say no to a customer but we cant always do what they ask, so we like to offer them alternative solutions. We try to be a resource service provider to all of our customers, not just a call-and-haul business.”

Motivation drove the success

Buboltz was always motivated by the dream of owning his own business.

“I spent 14 years with Penske Truck Leasing, a GE company, and it got to be too much big corporate for me” he said. “I wanted more control, wanted to do my own things.”

Buboltz finds gratification in working with others and helping them grow within the business.

Starting in 1997, Buboltz purchased the Wenzel Company, with about five trucks, and eventually changed the name to Primary Transportation.

In 1999 he noticed a few more customers asking about the need for pallets.

The opportunistic business owner put the pieces together and, along with a business partner Don Mathiebe, started a new company, Primary Products, which builds pallets and now employs 15 people.

“This was an example of finding solutions for customers,” Buboltz said.

Primary Products focuses on custom sizes to fill the need for various shipments.

“We don’t just do the standard 48”x40” size, we specialize in filling different needs for our customers,” he said.

The pallet production is an complimentary company to the trucking business, which has been advantageous to customers over the years.

“We can satisfy a lot of needs between the two and many of our clients are customers of both businesses,” Buboltz said.

Buboltz has also grown his workload by purchasing other business throughout the years. In 2001, he purchased DLI Distribution & Logistics Inc. and Lakeshore Fleet Maintenance.

In 2002, he bought ENCO Trucking and the office building that currently houses Primary’s corporate office and eight other tenants. These were purchased from Bob and Pat Endries.

In 2006, Primary acquired a truckstop and maintenance station in Sheboygan. The location is now known as Primary Interstate Plaza which includes a BP fuel station, truck stop, maintenance shop, and local favorite, Harry’s Diner.

Buboltz and Mathiebe also owns and operates Bakkheia, a wine bar and bistro in Brillion. Bakkheia also offer top-shelf spirits and micro-brews.

Growth will continue as allowed

While business continues to grow, Primary Companies is in need of more drivers.

“The industry overall is seeing a shortage of drivers,” Buboltz said.

There are many factors that have contributed to the shortage, including an aging workforce and not enough of a new generation coming in. Atop the list though, Buboltz believes that drivers have become frustrated with overregulation.

“I’m not arguing the regulations that drivers must adhere to,” Buboltz said. “But there are a lot of things that drivers aren’t happy adapting to and there are frustrations with some of the regulations. Change can be hard for people, plain and simple.”

With a small shortage of drivers, Primary Companies continues to grow its opportunity.

“We have the ability to cover the lower 48, but mostly manage an around in the Midwest,” Buboltz said. “About half our fleet operates within Wisconsin and the other half operates throughout the Midwest and south. We could definitely do more if we had more drivers, but we will continue to find opportunities and grow where we can.”

Aside from acquiring new business opportunities, the Primary Companies’s main focus continues to be maintaining great customer service with existing clients.

“Growth is always selective where opportunity lies,” Buboltz said. “Our main focus is to continue to serve our existing clients and be the best resources for their needs. That has always been, and always will be, our main focus.”