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Following Her Father's Footsteps Leads to Satisfying Career

Thu April 28, 2022 - Southeast Edition #9
Patricia O’Brien – CEG CORRESPONDENT


Kim Ludington’s daily responsibilities are the same as any service manager in the industry: keep up on the paperwork, get the service technicians in the shop working on the jobs they need to and make sure the road techs have the parts they need to head out on their service calls.
Kim Ludington’s daily responsibilities are the same as any service manager in the industry: keep up on the paperwork, get the service technicians in the shop working on the jobs they need to and make sure the road techs have the parts they need to head out on their service calls.
Kim Ludington’s daily responsibilities are the same as any service manager in the industry: keep up on the paperwork, get the service technicians in the shop working on the jobs they need to and make sure the road techs have the parts they need to head out on their service calls. There are five techs on the road and seven techs in the Tampa shop, all men, and all reporting to Ludington.

Kim Ludington, service manager of National Equipment Dealers'(NED) Tampa, Fla., location, is a self-proclaimed daddy's girl and proud of it.

"From the time I was little my dad was always into heavy equipment, operating dump trucks and other equipment," she said. "I fell right into his footsteps. I tried doing other things and they just didn't work."

Ludington, one of six children, certainly feels comfortable in those footsteps, working with trucks and heavy equipment most of her adult life. Her passion has led to a successful career in what has been a male-dominated industry. Ludington was recently promoted to service manager one year after joining NED Tampa as the shop foreman.

National Equipment Dealers is a heavy equipment rental, sales and services company with 14 locations across five states: Texas, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida. The company represents many brands of equipment, including Bell Trucks America, Hyundai Construction Equipment and Dynapac. Ludington is the company's only woman in the service manager role.

"Kim [Ludington] is the only person I considered for the job," said Jim Sill, vice president of service who came out of retirement to oversee the construction of NED's Tampa facility. "She's the kind of person you want on your team. The guys all respect her. I was told to hire a team. I've known Kim for quite some time. She's a little modest when talking about her abilities. The branch she ran in Fort Myers [for another company] had a monthly service goal of $200,000. For the four years that I dealt with Kim while she was there, her department exceeded $400,000 every month."

Ludington's daily responsibilities are the same as any service manager in the industry: keep up on the paperwork, get the service technicians in the shop working on the jobs they need to and make sure the road techs have the parts they need to head out on their service calls. Add to that list handling dozens of customer phone calls every day.

There are five techs on the road and seven techs in the Tampa shop, all men, and all reporting to Ludington.

"The guys have been great," she said. "They've all accepted me. I couldn't ask for better guys than who we have."

Ludington reports to Sill in the company's organizational structure, but it's clear he encourages her to run the shop as she sees fit.

"On paper she reports to me," Sill said. "I don't personally care for titles. I'm here to help everybody succeed. I told her from day one the goal is to make her the service manager here. She knows what she's doing. Kim can run the shop as good if not better than any guy out there. I'm challenging her that when I leave, she needs to take my position. One day she will be the vice president of service, and some day president of this company. It's absolutely the truth."

Ludington is in no hurry for Sill to retire for a second time, but it's clear she'll be ready for the opportunity for that promotion when it presents itself.

"You have to earn your place as a woman in the industry," she said. "It can be frustrating and really trying at times, but if you plant your feet and you're committed to doing it, day by day you earn the respect [of your coworkers]."

Her advice to women considering a career in the heavy equipment industry contains pearls of wisdom from a veteran who worked her way up, earning each opportunity that came her way.

"The industry used to be extremely male-dominated. They would tell me you're a female in the wrong world. But it's absolutely worth doing. It opens so many doors that you don't even realize possible. It's worth stepping into and giving it everything you've got. I wouldn't trade it for anything. If you have any background in construction or heavy equipment, or the interest, it makes it easier, but even without a background, if you're interested you should give it a try." CEG




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