When Kevin Moore contacted Champion Motor Graders about making Van’s Equipment Co., the Champion dealer in Colorado, he found a kindred spirit.
“Van’s has made kind of a specialty out of compact equipment,” Moore said. “Our experience is that customers have the same expectations whether they are looking at large machines or small ones — they want it to work the same, feel the same, have the same kind of comfort features. So it’s important for our compact equipment to meet those ’big machine’ expectations. Champion’s ’think big’ approach to compact graders fits right in with the way we think at Van’s Equipment.”
Moore and his cousin Greg Van Zandt recently branched out to open their store in Denver after nearly 20 years of operating a successful equipment business in Washington State. The Washington store, as well as selling new compact equipment such as Yanmar excavators, maintains a large fleet of rental equipment, including Champion graders.
“We are working to be the leader based on offering only the best lines,” Moore said. “As we planned for the new store, we were looking to buy used Champion machines in Colorado for rentals — but there were none to be found. So we contacted Bryan Abernathy at Champion, and found the opportunity to have a dealership, as well as the machines.”
Van’s quickly acquired its first new Champion grader from the factory and immediately put it to work in the Denver rental fleet.
“We drive sales through rentals,” Moore explained. “When customers use the equipment, and they like it, then they buy it. Some dealers will have one line of machines to sell, then they buy cheaper, stripped down machines to rent out. We rent out the same machines that we sell. We care about getting the kind of equipment that can sell itself when the customer uses it. It’s an approach that has proven very effective with our Yanmar and other top-line equipment. When people get into a machine they like, they talk about it, too. It’s unbelievable how the word of mouth is working for us.”
The Van’s Equipment fleet in Denver is now up to 50 machines in total, including the new C86 C Series all-wheel-drive grader.
“It’s going to fit into our niche just right, and attract a lot of attention,” said Moore.
“These Champion machines are well built, clearly superior to all others in their class. We don’t have to worry about them when they go out on rental — we keep up on the maintenance and the machines just run and run. Our focus on rentals means we service what we sell, too. We have to be able to get the equipment to the customer on time and it has to be in top operational condition. Champion makes it easy. This way we easily meet all of our customers’ expectations.”
While Van’s Equipment does keep larger equipment of key brands in stock, Moore said that compact machines represent a good strong niche for his newest store, “especially for the kind of projects we see currently.”
“Most of the jobs our customers are doing [have] them working on constricted sites including strip malls and pedestrian malls. These are tight spaces,” he said. “As well, any projects in the mountains have limited open space. Compact machines let you get in, maneuver around to do the job and get out again efficiently. They’re easy to transport as well as easy to operate. With the price of diesel these days, the fuel efficiency and operating cost of compact machines are very big with customers, too.”
With the success that his small-machine philosophy has seen to date, Moore is thinking “big” for his business, too. Moore is planning to expand Van’s Equipment and the Champion line into more Colorado locations soon.
Champion Motor Graders has specialized in the development of compact graders and attachments for more than 25 years. Champion engineering and manufacturing, based in Charlotte, N.C., produces compact machines.
The Champion line-up now includes five basic models with operating weights from 12,000 to 15,500 lbs. (5,443 to 7,031 kg), featuring the full range of single-axle, tandem and all-wheel 4x4 and 6x6 drive systems. Champion continues to develop a growing range specialized equipment for the road maintenance and paving industry.
For more information on Champion Motor Graders, call 704/392-1038 or visit www.championmotorgraders.us.
For more information on Van’s Equipment Company, call 303/828-9600.