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Dominion Arms Contractors With Parts for Smaller Iron

Tue July 20, 2004 - Southeast Edition
Jennifer Conway



America is known for its size: the size of its cars, the size of its people and the size of its construction equipment.

Over the years, though, the global marketplace has shifted to smaller, more compact items, and big iron has been no exception.

In 1998, two brothers from Virginia, Ronnie and Ken Byrd, recognized a growing compact equipment market in the United States and founded an equipment company that distributed the smaller Yanmar products.

“Our assumption was correct,” said Ken. “We knew there was a growing need for small equipment. And, because the smaller equipment was growing, we knew there was a need for parts for that smaller equipment.”

In 2001, the brothers jointly decided with Yanmar that they would become an authorized parts distributor and the manufacturer would distribute its products directly to the customers. The Byrds named the new company Dominion Equipment Parts LLC, which now specializes in selling rubber tracks and parts for equipment such as mini-excavators, track carriers and skid steers.

“The transition [from distributing equipment to selling parts] was rather smooth,” noted Ken, Dominion president. “We had already developed a network of dealers who were built-in customers for parts only.”

The company now is an authorized OEM parts distributor for Yanmar, and most recently Morooka, and carries after-market parts for Komatsu and Caterpillar construction equipment.

“And we do have a line of after-market rubber tracks to fit just about everything with a rubber track,” added Ken.

Located in Ashland, VA, the company has seven employees including three staff members who answer phones, an on-the-road salesman and an undercarriage sales specialist.

Ken admits Dominion is not a very large operation, but the company’s size has been a positive factor in its strong customer service.

“When you’re small, it’s easier to take time with customers –– to answer their questions fully, to do some research for them,” said Ken. “I like to think we do that quite well.

“As we grow, we would like to continue to build market share, but we want to continue to offer this level of customer service. We don’t want to add people to just answer the phone or be order takers. We need to grow slowly so we can add to customer-directed sales,” said Ken, noting that when a customer calls, he or she is calling because of a problem. “Not [every company] has the resources to stop what they’re doing on a busy day and either look up parts or look up specifications on a machine.”

He added that Dominion staff members interact everyday with suppliers in Japan so the company can get a difficult-to-find import part, if necessary. If a part is in stock in Japan, for instance, Dominion can have it available in 10 working days.

The company has two warehouses in Ashland –– 5,000-sq.-ft. and 9,000-sq.ft. facilities –– which house the company’s approximately $750,000 inventory. The larger building primarily houses Dominion’s expanding supply of rubber tracks, what Ken describes as the firm’s “rising star.”

“There are some good companies selling parts in this country and we want to be known as one of them,” Ken said, noting that he has seen an increase in competition over the last few years.

“That’s always good and bad,” he said. “More competition tells you that you made the right decisions with the products you’re offering. At the same time, it’s somebody else to go head-to-head with on a daily basis.

“But, you know, we’ve been around since 1998 and we’re going to be here tomorrow.”

Dominion Equipment Parts is located at 11191 Air Park Road in Ashland.

For more information, call 800/365-7260 or visit www.dominionequipmentparts.com.

Pictured: Ken Byrd (L), president, and his brother Ronald M. (not pictured) founded Dominion Equipment Parts in 1998. Byrd works closely with Buck Seymour, parts manager, to guarantee customers’ needs are met on a daily basis.