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Mike Thurston's Member Profile with UTA

Yoder & Frey's Senior Vice President, Mike Thurston holds tenure on the UTA Board of Directors. The Used Truck Association is an impartial organization comprised of used truck professionals and associated businesses committed to strengthening the used truck industry. They are dedicated to providing a source of direction in the areas of professionalism and ethics, while promoting the highest standards of service and conduct. Read the full profile below.

Article as featured in the Used Truck Association Newsletter. 

Michael Thurston, the senior vice president at Yoder and Frey Auctioneers in Kissimmee, Florida, has been a member of the UTA since 2005. Over his career, he’s had the opportunity to work for multiple big-name companies for long periods. Through it all, he’s found that the best part of his job is the connections he’s made along the way. Outside work, you can find him enjoying golfing, fishing, hunting, and travelling.

Like many of us, way before he ever got into the business, Michael loved big trucks. Luckily for him, he was able to get up close and personal with them, since his father was the director of transportation and warehouse for the Toro Company in Minnesota. With his father’s job, Michael grew up around trucks, working on and riding in them.

This early interest stuck. Michael got his first job at his family’s truck wash while he was in high school. He worked there for years and eventually he began managing the business while home on summer breaks from Notre Dame. After college, he made his way into a different part of the truck world, getting a job as a yard manager for Ritchie Bros Auctioneers. He worked there for eight years, transitioning into sales and management roles.

Next, he spent six years asset managing at Firstar and TCF, two finance companies. After that, he and his family moved to Seattle, Washington where he became director of used trucks worldwide for PACCAR.  After Seattle, they moved to Springfield, Missouri where Michael was Vice President for TLG Peterbilt for 15 years. Looking back on that time, Michael said he wouldn’t trade those years at TLG for anything.

In each of these different roles, he was lucky to learn under the tutelage of many great leaders. “All of my bosses have been incredible role models,” he said. This includes Will March, John Seibel, Tim Henebry, Glenn Larson, and Joe Galowitch. In particular, Michael’s grateful for Galowitch from inland KW, who took Michael under his wing early on. “I’ll never forget it,” he said.

After his time at TLG, Michael transitioned into his current role as senior vice president for Yoder and Frey in May 2023. The company is a division of Euro Auction, which is one of the world’s largest auction companies with HQ in Ireland. Here, he oversees US sales and operations. That includes buying and consigning trucks, trailers, yellow iron, and agricultural equipment.

It’s hard for him to pinpoint one event that stands out from his career. But some highlights include being the youngest salesperson ever hired by Ritchie Bros Auctioneers at the time, moving his family to Seattle, and his 15 years at TLG. Also, of course, he found his tenure on the UTA Board of Directors to be very rewarding.

Michael attributes the success he’s had in all these roles to the relationships he’s formed over the years. When well-tended, customers become friends for life, he said. “Take care of the customer and your team and the business will be a success,” Michael said. “I have relationships I built that I will cherish forever.” So, it’s no surprise that his favorite part of the job, is being in front of the customer. Being able to solve problems for other people brings him great joy and pride in his career. “There is nothing better,” he said.

One of the lessons he wished he had learned earlier in his career has to do with managing those customer relationships. He said you should value directness and listening skills. Being direct is especially important in scenarios where you may not be able to deliver what your customer wants. “Nobody wants bad news, but if you are direct with a problem and provide solutions, you will have a successful career.”

This comes hand in hand with listening more and talking less. “If you ask probing questions of your customers, it will be easy to solve the problems they have set out for you. Then, if you’re able to pay attention and solve a customer’s problem, they’ll find value and trust in your services,” he said. One the ways to make sure to accomplish this is to take careful notes after customer interactions. That way, he remembers the small details others might not.  

Coming up ahead, Michael expects to see trends that the industry has been through before, because it’s a very cyclical business. In particular, he anticipates infrastructure challenges are up ahead, and adjustments from electric vehicles.

As we move into that future, Michael looks forward to spending time with his family. He has been married to his wife Colleen for 32 years. Together, they have a 28-year-old daughter named Regina who lives in Dallas, Texas, and a 20-year-old son Michael named who’s a sophomore at the University of Oklahoma. So of course, his spotlight has to conclude with a good ole, “Boomer Sooner!”  

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