Our companies have a legacy that many companies would envy. Three men started us in April of 1929 as Raleigh Tractor & Equipment Company as a Caterpillar dealer on Lane Street close to where the Legislative Building is today. They were J. M. Gregory, H. A. Mooneyham, and A. E. Finley. Mr. Gregory was the money behind the other two and funded the entire $90,000.00 investment necessary. In 1932, Mr. Finley decided to start N. C. Equipment Company as the International Construction Equipment dealer. In 1934, we gave up the Caterpillar franchise and became an International farm equipment and “motor truck dealer.” 1934 was also the year that my father, John M. Alexander, Sr. started working for International Harvester Company in Charlotte. This job came as a result of an introduction from his brother-in-law, McAlister Carson to the International Harvester Manager in Charlotte, H. D. Cogdell , the two of whom had met in a foxhole during World War I.
Mr. Mooneyham ran the business from 1934 through 1946. In 1946, my father was home from World War II and needed a job. He called Mr. Finley at N. C. Equipment Co. who didn’t need anyone, but ended up going to work with Mr. Mooneyham as Sales Manager for farm equipment and trucks. The dealership then was on Wilmington Street having recently moved from Salisbury Street. In 1950, the business was moved to 1420 Garner Road. In 1952, my father started buying the business from the stockholders, Mr. Mooneyham and Mr. Finley.
Over time, my father paid them out except for an unpaid debt of $100 to Mr. Finley that to this day has not been paid. As our company was the first that Mr. Finley had a hand in starting, he would not let my father pay him out, as he always wanted to be a partner with John Alexander.
In Mr. Finley’s will, Article 14 forgave this debt. Over his life, Mr. Finley gave away millions of dollars and has a golf course, stadium, field house, YMCA, and other things with his name on them. He got started here.
Raleigh Truck Rentals was started in 1976 as we got a sign painter to letter four used trucks to give the rental business a try. We had no contracts and put dealer tags on the trucks. The first truck went out to Job P. Wyatt and Sons, came back and the customer owed us $252.00. They paid us, the truck wasn’t hurt – “let’s do that again!” Shortly after that, we bought out a company called Wake-U-Drive-It and took over their location at 320 S. Dawson Street. A few years later, Raleigh Truck Rentals moved beside Cardinal at 1420 Garner Road until we moved to the current location in 1985. Cardinal moved from our location on Garner Road to where we are now in 1988.
My father, John McKnitt Alexander was killed in an accident falling off of a 140 tractor in June 2000 but was active in the business until his death at the age of 85. I came to work here first at age 12 counting nuts and bolts at inventory for 50 cents an hour. While at N C State from 1968 to 1971, I worked in the body shop, the shop, the parts department, and the office. In 1973, I became Assistant Manager. In 1980, I became President and General Manager. I can honestly say that I have done every job here except drive the trash truck, which we don’t have any more.
Some of you have heard me say how blessed we are to have the employees that you see here. They are the primary reason for our success. In our history, we have had several brother teams working here and, at one time, had six father-son teams working here. There are few good people who have left us – and some of them have come back. We have never had to lay people off. There have been many truck dealers that have come and gone since we have been in business, but we have always prospered. Our future is bright and we hope to share it with all of you.
John Alexander, Jr.