Family Firms Stay Connected Through Generations

Wed July 28, 2004 - Northeast Edition

The saying “Like father, like son” aptly applies to two Long Island businesses — in more ways than one.

Merrick Utility Associates Inc., a contractor based in Farmingdale, NY, has been in business since Clemente Diorio founded the company in 1949. Today, three generations later, Frank and Tom Diorio run their grandfather’s business, handling drainage, sewer and water projects across Long Island. On a recent water main job in East Farmingdale, Frank and Tom even found themselves working on a sewer system their grandfather had installed decades earlier.

All Island Equipment, of West Babylon, NY, is in its second generation of ownership by the Wade family. Gary Wade, president of All Island Equipment, took over for his father Gus in 1989, who founded the dealership in 1970.

These two companies, which have done business together for many years (Frank and Tom’s father, often purchased equipment from Gus Wade), recently became reacquainted when Merrick purchased a new Gehl 7810 from All Island. The 7810 skid steer, which is part of the new 7000 Series of Gehl skid steers, features one of the largest engines — 115 hp (85.7 kW) — in the industry’s skid steer category.

“We shopped around and compared it with other machines and in power, lift capacity, bucket capacity and creature comforts, the Gehl exceeded any other machine on the market,” said Tom Diorio.

“With its 12-foot reach and 84-inch bucket, the Gehl can quickly load almost any trailer on the market. Recently, we did a job on a water tower that involved moving and laying a lot of riprap. The Gehl could easily fill the bucket to the crown and move the riprap with no trouble at all.”

Tom added that he and his brother also have enjoyed the machine’s two-speed transmission.

“Under certain circumstances, the Gehl can move up to 13 miles per hour with a full load,” he said. “To be honest with you, at times we use our Gehl 7810 instead of a small pay loader.”

Access to the 7810’s engine, visibility within the cab and the machine’s pilot controls also proved to be major selling points for Tom.

“One of the major reasons we purchased this machine was its exceptional engine accessibility. Virtually every part of the machine that needs service is extraordinarily easy to get to.

“Safety and damage control is always an important consideration when purchasing a machine and in the Gehl cab, our operators have 360-degree visibility.

“And another important feature on our Gehl 7810 is the pilot controls. Other skid steers that we’ve looked at were pedal control, which was relatively foreign to our operators. With the Gehl’s pilot controls, any one of our operators can effortlessly make the transition into the Gehl machine. Any equipment operator on our staff can hop in and go,” he said.

Tom admitted that the Gehl 7810 cost more than other skid steers on the market he looked at. In the end, though, he said, “We paid more, but we got more. Since the machine was delivered it has operated virtually service free.”

However, Tom knows that if anything needed to be done with his 7810, All Island Equipment would be there for him, as it has for two generations now.

“We are a family-owned business and we appreciate dealing with other family-owned businesses,” Tom said. “At All Island Equipment, between Gary Wade and his sales rep, Tom Porterfield, we always get that personalized attention.”