(L to R): Mitch Roberts, Sennebogen specialist GSE; Ray Ferwerda Sr., CEO GSE; Ray Ferwerda Jr., president GSE; Len Lawrence, regional sales manager Sennebogen; and (kneeling) Bruce Bowers, vice president — sales GSE are pictured in front of their S
Ray Ferwerda Jr., president of GS Equipment Company recognizes an opportunity when he sees it. So when Constantino Lannes, president of Sennebogen America offered his company an opportunity to be the Sennebogen distributor in Florida, he immediately knew this would be an opportunity that would work for both of them.
The two have known each other from a previous relationship.
“I hadn’t seen Constantino in years and I bumped into him at the Associated Equipment Distributors [AED] conference last year,” recalled Ferwerda.
Great Southern Equipment Company officially became a Sennebogen distributor Dec. 21, 2009, serving all of Florida except the Panhandle. With locations in Tampa, Ft. Myers, Ft. Lauderdale, Orlando and Jacksonville, GS Equipment specializes in serving commercial construction, road building, logging and mining markets. It is a multi-line dealer offering a complete line of equipment from rollers and pavers to excavators and dozers and everything in between. All five of its locations are now selling and servicing the Sennebogen line of equipment.
A Shared Philosophy
GS Equipment Company is a family owned business that has expanded from a single operation in Tampa, to a network of branch operations servicing contractors across Florida and South Georgia. It has been in business for 50 years and will be celebrating that anniversary during 2010.
“My father started the business 50 years ago. Like him, we are onsite and hands-on with our customers because we understand what it takes to be successful in business today,” said Ferwerda. “Some dealerships are part of a multinational organization that are perhaps not as customer driven as we are. We are all about service and looking after our customers’ needs.”
He said that Sennebogen also is a family owned business that shares the same philosophy about servicing its customers, making the two a good fit.
GS Equipment Company is inheriting the responsibility of looking after and maintaining Sennebogen’s customer operations. From this point forward, Ferwerda’s top priority is making sure there is no lapse in support.
“We are prepared to do that because we appreciate every customer,” he said. “We are very proud of our reputation for service and support. We have built the business on this and know what it takes to help our client maximize their machine uptime.”
At present, GS Equipment Company is focused on dirt moving activities and include in its area of expertise site preparation equipment such as mulching, road building equipment, paving and municipal business.
Ferwerda has prepared for its new responsibility by ordering and stocking parts for all five locations as well as machines.
“We have already made a major investment in terms of stock machines and parts inventory,” he said.
The company had previously ventured into the scrap market but found itself competing against the very machines it now carries.
“Two years ago a lot of companies were trying to get into the scrap business when scrap was seeing record highs. We put a few machines out there but we didn’t have anything like a Sennebogen, a purpose-built machine. Everybody else was trying to turn conventional excavators into scrap handlers,” Ferwerda explained. “We didn’t know enough about the industry to understand why, but we were learning quickly. Some of our good customers in transfer stations were buying everything else from us, but when it came to material handlers they said Sennebogen was the way to go. We didn’t have anything that could compete so it’s good to be representing Sennebogen now.”
Teaming Up With Sennebogen
“The sales teams can’t wait. They are excited about representing Sennebogen, a market leader here in Florida. They are eager because Sennebogen gets us into an industry where we will be able to supply other types of equipment when the new customers get to know us. We already have an excellent reputation in the industry for service and now we are expanding that customer base,” Ferwerda said.
New markets other than scrap that GS Equipment Company is looking to penetrate, now that it has aligned itself with Sennebogen, include: demolition, logging — in northern Florida, waste and port applications.
“We are committed to give Sennebogen customers the attention and time required to uphold the Sennebogen brand,” said Ferwerda.
Parts and Service Training
The company started parts and service training at its locations on Jan. 4th to ensure a consistent continuation of service. In order to make it as efficient as possible, Sennebogen sent down a crew to do the training at its location. One of the significant benefits that Sennebogen has is the fact that there are no on-board computers.
“This really made the service training go very easily,” said Ferwerda. “Our teams of factory-trained personnel are up-to-date and current with the Sennebogen product line.”
One of the ways that GS Equipment Company is preparing for the transition is by hiring a Sennebogen specialist.
“This will really help our guys to understand the market. It brings common sense to the industry and gives us a solid understanding for the applications.”
Mitch Roberts, a well known Sennebogen product specialist will be assisting all of the salesmen.
“I am very pleased to have the opportunity to work with Mitch,” said Len Lawrence, the RSM for Sennebogen. “We have worked on a lot of projects together and I know that Mitch will provide the product leadership that GS Equipment is known for.”
In the meantime, GS Equipment Company will be marketing its new line of Sennebogen machines by attending the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) show this year as well as a number of the regional shows, including some for the waste industry.
Ultimately, Ferwerda said that new opportunities will arise for both companies as they both continue to build upon their reputation for providing specialty products backed up by quality customer service.
“It’s a win-win situation because we both have the same approach to the market. Sennebogen is very loyal to its dealer base and we have an excellent reputation for service in our region,” he said. “An opportunity like this doesn’t come up that often and this is one that we are looking forward to.”
For more information, call 704/347-4910 or visit www.sennebogen-na.com.