F&W Celebrates 75 Years of Serving Connecticut Industry

Wed November 05, 2014 - Northeast Edition
CEG




F&W Equipment Corp., a family-owned business, has served the Connecticut construction market since 1939. For three generations, F&W has been committed to delivering the best in equipment sales, rentals, parts and service. This year, the company is celebrating its 75th anniversary.

Founder Harold O. Funk originally opened the business as F&W Welding Service in Wooster Square, New Haven. He saw demand increase during World War II, when iron and steel were needed for multiple military and stateside projects. During the war, Funk worked hard, collaborating with iconic Electric Boat to create innovative, life-saving submarine technology. After the war, F&W changed gears and began to provide equipment and equipment service for the surge in post-war construction in addition to the repair work the company was already known for.

In 1955, F&W Equipment Corp. moved from its historic New Haven location to a new home in Orange, Conn. The firm moved again in July of 1965, to its current site at 164 Boston Post Road.

Funk’s son, Roger, joined the business in 1963 with a degree in metallurgical engineering. In addition to giving oversight to the metal fabrication end of the business, he was eager to create and implement the changes necessary for F & W to grow as a construction equipment dealership.

For more than 50 years, Roger has been active in industry associations such as Associated Equipment Distributors (AED), Northeast Equipment Dealers Association (NEDA), National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), and Connecticut Business and Industry Association (CBIA). During his tenure, Roger also has earned many awards for his performance from Case, Kubota, Samsung and Indeco. He has been recognized locally for his leadership and volunteer work in the community, including numerous distinctions from the Orange Chamber of Commerce, West Haven Rotary and the Orange Economic Development Corporation.

“We’re proud of our history and proud of the part we’ve played in helping to build Connecticut,” said Roger Funk, who has been at the helm for more than 50 years.

Changing the Local Industry

F&W founder Harold Funk was an innovator. In the mid-1950s, he recognized the need construction contractors and farmers had for more effective equipment. Combining his welding experience, creativity and vision, Funk began to install loaders and backhoe attachments onto Porsche tractors in an era prior to the widespread availability of the loader backhoe. His business continued to grow as he demonstrated to local contractors that using the right tool for the job increased their effectiveness and set them up for success. Word spread that he had the desire and the knowledge to give construction contractors the right tool for the job, no matter their needs.

After more than 10 years in New Haven, F&W also became an Allis Chalmers dealer and Funk’s reputation expanded from being a metal fabricator to a construction equipment dealer. He began to sell and service loader backhoes, articulated wheel loaders, dozers and crawler loaders, quickly developing a reputation for service throughout southern Connecticut.

In 1973, F&W became a Case construction equipment dealer.

“Our Allis Chalmers customers soon began to recognize the quality, reliability and breadth of the Case brand,” said Roger Funk. “Customers began buying the Case 580 loader backhoe and quickly found that it was the Swiss army knife that they had been missing. This was the one machine that they needed to do a wide range of jobs in a variety of conditions.”

Adapting With the Times

For more than 75 years, Connecticut contractors such as road builders, demolition contractors, environmental contractors, homebuilders, commercial site developers, municipalities, large and small utilities, landscapers, snow removal workers and many others, have relied on the equipment and services provided by the F&W team.

To better serve the construction industry, F&W Equipment Corp. became a dealer of Case, Doosan and Terex construction equipment, Kubota tractors and construction equipment, Eager Beaver trailers, Samsung construction equipment, Indeco demolition attachments and Geith buckets and attachments.

“While representing these manufacturers, we work very closely with financing sources to help our customers afford the machine they need. We also have a large and diverse fleet of rental equipment,” said Funk. “This fleet includes the largest to the smallest tracked and wheeled excavators, articulated haul trucks, wheel loaders of all sizes, dozers, loader backhoes, wheeled and tracked skid steers, and a very wide variety of attachments for specific applications.

“We provide servicing of all types of construction equipment from electrical repairs to engine and transmission repair,” said Funk. “We are able to modify equipment in many ways to make it more suitable for individual needs.”

Working With the Locals

Four decades after opening its doors, F&W Equipment Corp. served a huge variety of local businesses from Connecticut’s small mom and pop family landscapers to all types of residential developers, utility contractors, municipalities, road infrastructure contractors, environmental remediation, scrap, recycling and commercial and industrial developers. The company worked with customers to help them grow their business.

F&W shifted into high gear in 1979, when The Southern Connecticut Gas Company purchased a fleet of 580C loader backhoes. Now merged with Connecticut Natural Gas, SCG maintains the natural gas infrastructure in Connecticut, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with F&W providing the necessary service.

“They have to have their fleet ready to go,” said Funk. “Since then, they have updated their fleet many times over.

“For decades, we have been supplying R.D. Scinto, a well know developer based in Shelton. I first met Bob Scinto, of RD Scinto Inc in 1976 and sold him his first Case 580B in 1977.”

Decades and many machines later, that day-to-day relationship started by Bob Scinto and Roger Funk continue with their sons Rob, Andy, Jim and Steve.

“Joe Palmieri from Connecticut Tank Removal has grown with F&W, with his early start on his family farm/nursery in Fairfield, to working his way to become one of the largest and respected environmental remediation companies in the state,” said Funk.

“We also have long term relationships with other construction companies like A.J. Penna Construction, Brennan Construction and Muratori Builders, which have all played big roles in many projects in southern Connecticut using a wide variety of excavators, wheel loaders, skid steers and demolition equipment.”

Service — F&W’s ’Secret Weapon’

Jim Funk, service manager, one of the third generation Funks at F & W, credits his hard-working employees for helping to create F&W’s solid reputation over the last 75 years.

“The service team is constantly exceeding our customers’ expectations with its ability to diagnose and repair equipment with all sorts of issues,” said Funk. “We have a secret weapon in the field: his name is Adam and he is a legend in the business of getting machines back to work.

“Another of our notable service heroes is Charlie. He began operating equipment in the 1950s with cable-powered machines. He has been at F&W since 1992 and has rebuilt many older machines with his vast history and technical wizardry,” said Funk.

The New Normal

“We have seen lots of changes since 1939, and, recently we have made many adjustments to our business plan,” said Roger Funk. “One of the most recent was to introduce a brand makeover that included a new logo, Web site and refined marketing strategy that focuses our efforts on customer satisfaction and the new generation of contractors who need the right tools for the current market conditions.”

Just like F&W grew its original small welding company to include heavy iron sales and service, as it modified tractors for efficiency, changed brands and headquarters and logos, the company has continued to adapt in the new electronic age.

“We have launched our ’Fun at Work’ channel on YouTube [www.youtube.com/user/FWequip] so our future customers can see how the latest machines better serve their needs,” Funk said. “This also works with our Facebook page [www.facebook.com/FWEquipment) and our Twitter feed (twitter.com/fwequipment.] Our social media component is designed to cultivate interest in our products among future customers who are active in online environments when they are off their machines.”

F&W Equipment Corp. is Connecticut’s largest Kubota dealer in construction equipment and the largest compact dealer in western Connecticut. Most machines also are available for rental. This has become a popular first step for most new customers.