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Gold Coast Equipment Opens New Branch in Lakeland

Wed August 02, 2006 - Southeast Edition
CEG



In an industry that holds long-standing relationships in a place of utmost importance, a young entrepreneur has found a key to success.

President Matthew Villella has recently led the opening of a second branch of his company — the Ocala, FL-based Gold Coast Equipment — in Lakeland, FL.

Named by a Florida publication as one of its top 40 businesspeople under 40 years old, Villella, said he found success by building personal relationships with his customers.

The company, founded in 2002, is the second incarnation of the Gold Coast name.

His family previously owned Gold Coast Aerial Lifts, which they sold to NationsRent in 1998. Villella spent four years with NationsRent as manager of the Ocala branch and district manager in Tennessee before moving back to Florida to start his own company.

Gold Coast Equipment began as a JLG distributor, but soon started renting John Deere and Caterpillar equipment. It then expanded the rental line to include large general rental equipment. Gold Coast carries the Heli industrial forklifts, Wacker and MultiQuip equipment brands, as well as a large new and used equipment line.

The Lakeland facility is a temporary location — Villella calls it a satellite office — until a more suitable building can be found.

Villella and Branch Manager Jim Williams are currently looking at a couple of locations and hope to be moved in within six months to a year.

Gold Coast employs approximately 43 people, including six salesmen. The staff includes his wife, Tina Villella; Vice President Tim Thomas; Office Manager Holly Hughes; Used and New Equipment Sales Representative Ward Bell and Service Department Manager Santo Pansera.

By the end of the summer, Villella said the company will have 600 pieces of equipment available for rent and purchase, as well as a fleet of five service trucks and six transports.

From the two locations, Gold Coast covers all of central and north Florida from coast to coast.

It’s in that geographic region that Villella and his employees are working to build up relationships with customers, both current and future.

He said it is important because, “they know that they’re getting the top quality equipment, but they’re also getting top quality people.”

Villella said he has surrounded himself with an aggressive staff with the same ideals.

And he places the same ideals on the manufacturers he chooses to represent, as the products are an important part of the dealership’s overall persona. He would be open to take on a dirt-moving equipment line, but “I’d have to find the dirt manufacturer that carries everything that we need that fits our style.”

Gold Coast recently began offering its customers the ability to manage their own accounts online through the rental software Texada and its Web-based Rent on the Dot program. It is also in the midst of building Internet sales and has hired a full-time IT specialist, Chris Oleson.

Villella said the company is focusing on settling into the Lakeland branch and growing its business to equal or overtake the Ocala location.

But once that happens, he has his sights set on opening a branch in the Jacksonville area in the not-to-distant future.

For more information, visit www.gcequipment.com. CEG Staff