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Clark Equipment Experiences Rapid Growth in Just 10 Years

In a single decade, Clark Equipment's fleet went from six machines to well over a hundred.

Mon May 18, 2015 - Northeast Edition
Brenda Ruggiero

Clark Equipment Owner Adam Clark (R) closes a deal with a repeat customer, Douglas Miranda.
Clark Equipment Owner Adam Clark (R) closes a deal with a repeat customer, Douglas Miranda.
Clark Equipment Owner Adam Clark (R) closes a deal with a repeat customer, Douglas Miranda. Clark Equipment mechanics Mike Christian (L) and Chris St. Pierre. Clark Equipment’s General Manager Marie Stevenson-Dunbar.

When Adam Clark first opened Clark Equipment in Syracuse, N.Y., in 2005, he had six machines — three mini-excavators and three skid steers. He was the sole employee, operating out of a small, one-room storage unit.

Just 10 years later, his equipment fleet includes more than 110 machines, and the company has served thousands of customers in North America, Asia, South America, Australia and Europe. Sales actually doubled from 2013 to 2014 and are on target to do the same in 2015 compared with 2014.

Josh Amidon, Clark’s director of marketing, explained that Clark actually comes from a long line of three generations of hard working people who have worked in the industry for almost 100 years, combined.

“It’s kind of in his blood,” he said. “He loves this. He grew up around this, and his kids are growing up around this. If you ask him, and he’s said it many times, at the very beginning, he was hoping to make enough money to pay his cell phone bill. I don’t think he ever expected to be this successful, but I’m sure he hoped for it. It was very much a risk and reward type situation. Clark Equipment took a risk by increasing our marketing dollars, and it paid off. In an economy where marketing dollars are the first cuts that a company makes, we took the opposite approach.”

Currently, Clark has 10 employees, including Clark’s brother, Matt, and the very recent addition of a mechanic and a yard crew member.

“We’re really excited about the new hires, because it will relieve some pressure out in our shop,” Amidon said. “Business has been insane. It’s been crazy. The hiring spree is just to keep up with sales demand. Also, we have an office right now on our yard, and we’re going to get rid of this office and build a brand new office that is twice as big, just because we’re literally crawling all over each other.”

The company rents and sells heavy equipment, including skid steers, mini-excavators, excavators, boom lifts and lifts.

“We don’t focus on one brand, necessarily,” Amidon said. “We’re an independent dealership, so we always try to make sure that we’re buying the best value, as opposed to a brand or the best price. So we have everything from Genie, JLG, Volvo, John Deere, Caterpillar … we have all the big names, and just make sure that we’re buying the correct machines.”

Amidon noted that from the beginning, Clark Equipment gradually spread from selling just in Syracuse to central New York, then throughout the state, into the Northeast, and all over North America. Currently, the company is shipping machines internationally on a regular basis. Some of the company’s growth can be attributed to buying the right merchandise at the right time.

“You could have the best sales team, the best marketing team, the best mechanic team, and the best shop team, but if you don’t have the right product, then it’s just not going to move,” Amidon said. “And I think that’s the silent contributor to our base success here. Our strategy for growth is figuring out exactly who our customer is and where they’re coming from, then getting our name, logo, and product offerings pushed at them by every marketing vehicle imaginable — whether that’s print, digital or social. There’s nothing off the table, and that’s the best part — there’s nothing off the table. We’re coming into an environment where millennials have become decision-makers, and they even own their own companies now, and millennials shop very differently than past generations.”

Amidon has been pushing that growth for the company since Clark hired him into the position he created a little over two months ago because he saw a need for a dedicated marketing department.

Future plans for the company include making sure it is able to keep up with the rapid growth rate and take care of its customers.

“It’s a very good problem to have as far as business goes,” Amidon said. “We don’t necessarily have any nationwide big name customers or projects, but we kind of like it that way. We let everyone else fight over the big names and the big jobs, and that gives us the ability to focus on everyone else they’re forgetting about. Our customers trust us, we’ve built a reputation within the industry as being honest — honest to the point where our customers have continued buying from us for many purchases for many years. And that’s because our sales department isn’t necessarily worried about making the sale, but making the right sale. Our general manager is Marie Dunbar — she’s absolutely phenomenal. In my short time here, I’ve seen her in many situations where she could take full advantage of a buyer and push them into buying a machine that is twice as big or twice as much as they need or can afford, but she won’t. We won’t do that. It just doesn’t foster good customer relationships, and we’re all about the long haul and not the short fail.”

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