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📅 Wed December 26, 2012 - Southeast Edition
Eric Olson - CEG CORRESPONDENT
One of the South’s top equipment dealers recently reached an agreement to begin selling, renting and servicing Kawasaki’s line of articulated wheel loaders, including its Z7 line of machines.
May Heavy-Equip Rental & Sales Inc., based in Lexington, N.C., began marketing Kawasaki’s wheel loaders in November and now boasts several of the new Z7 wheel loaders in its yard.
The deal culminates a year of work between May and Kawasaki in order to shift the dealer agreement from another North Carolina outfit, according to Jim Bingham, May’s CEO.
May has already accepted orders for the new Z7 model from customers in its market area. The company’s sales and service territory encompasses western North Carolina (as far east as Burlington), the entire state of South Carolina and parts of Virginia.
According to Jacob May, president of the dealership, Kawasaki’s “impeccable reputation” has led many of his customers to request that they carry the wheel loader, which is available in many different sizes. He added that companies in his market recognize that Kawasaki makes “top-of- the-line machines that are a cut above the competition.”
In fact, quarry and mining operations, he said, really like the Kawasaki machines and that has allowed his company to market and sell to more quarry companies, as well as asphalt firms.
“Kawasaki is kind of banking on us, being a rental company also, to get their wheel loaders more into the hands of more of our construction customers,” he added. “We are going to push that really hard, I assure you. Kawasaki offers a very, very well thought of product.”
Kawasaki considers the new Z7 wheel loader to be a machine that has been “totally redesigned” to distinguish it from its previous wheel loaders.
Besides building them to meet new emissions standards, Kawasaki also has equipped the Z7 with new powertrain components, hydraulic and electrical systems and structures developed to improve efficiency, productivity and comfort. In addition, engineers are counting on sophisticated controls and logic to provide the machine’s “intelligent” systems to be able to adjust to the working conditions of the loader to improve efficiency.
But perhaps the most apparent change in the Kawasaki Z7 wheel loaders is their appearance. New styling sets that are both attractive and functional were designed within the machines to improve visibility and serviceability.
Manufactured in America
Bingham actually considers the Japanese-owned Kawasaki manufacturing plant to be “local” due to its location in Newnan, Ga., just outside Atlanta. Also nearby, in Kennesaw, is the headquarters for KCMA Corp., the company that owns and manufactures Kawasaki equipment in North and South America, along with its parts warehouses and a rebuild center.
“Our intention is to get the product into the hands of our rental customers so that they can see and demo them,” Bingham explained. “We may sell many of these wheel loaders just off the lot, but I think a lot of our sales will come from having people experience these machines and appreciate their quality. They have such a good reputation and the new design is really operator friendly and it has such a great sense of style about it. Plus, it is a powerful machine.”
Bingham added that May is utilizing its rental business to its advantage to help them sell Kawasaki machines.
“Because there is a significant Kawasaki following in the Carolinas already, a big part of what we are doing right now is educating customers about the new relationship between May and Kawasaki, as well as letting them know that we are here to meet their needs, whether it is buying a new machine or just getting parts,” he said.
“We have talked to customers who have had these machines for a long time and want to stay with Kawasaki because they work so well. We think, too, that some of these folks will probably look to refresh their inventory in the next few years and we want them to know that we are here for them.”
Bingham also said that Kawasaki has “very aggressive” leasing programs which he feels will help his customers get into newer machines quicker.
At the present, May’s employees, from the sales and management side to the mechanics in both its Lexington headquarters and its Columbia, S.C. shop, are all training and learning about the Kawasaki line and how to service them.
The deal with Kawasaki was made much smoother, Bingham said, because of the support of GE Capital.
“They have been a great financing partner to us and we really appreciate their doing what they could to support us in the relationship with Kawasaki,” he explained.
“Additional support was provided by Richie Ambrose, the general manager of the Columbia office of May Heavy-Equip Rental & Sales Inc.,” Bingham said.
A Young, Dynamic Company
Founded in 1997, May has grown to be one of the Southeast’s most reliable sources for heavy equipment rentals, sales and service. With almost 300 pieces of earthmoving equipment available on its lots, the company is geared to providing customers with a versatile line of machinery.
About 40 percent of its 30 employees are trained as mechanics and repair specialists.
“The ability to service and repair anything in the field is key to a company such as ours and, therefore, our technicians can work on virtually any brand,” said Jacob May. “Our repair trucks stay busy and are always on call.”