Hills Machinery will focus on the medium-sized impact crushers, such as this Terex Finlay I-110, at the stores closer to the Atlantic coast, where the ground is less dense.
Columbia, S.C., based Hills Machinery, already well-known as one of the southeast’s most dynamic equipment dealerships, is proving it again with several bold moves designed to increase its commitment to offering outstanding customer service, according to the company.
In short order, Hills has just taken on three new product lines, plans to open several new stores in the Carolinas in the next two years, including a Charlotte location this summer; is expanding its existing stores in Columbia and Charleston; and has hired new people to improve its customer support capabilities.
"Service and product support has always been at the core of our company’s belief in how to best serve our customer base," said Jim Hills, president of Hills Machinery.
Together with his brother, Adam, they started the full-service dealership in Columbia in 2007.
Several New Stores
Hills Machinery currently operates four stores: in Columbia and Charleston, S.C.; and in Raleigh and Greenville, N.C. However, plans are under way to open new stores in the western ends of both Carolinas in the next 36 months, according to Hills.
The first new Hills Machinery store is scheduled to open in Charlotte by the beginning of July. Then, over the next two and a half years, Hills said the company also would expand into Greenville, S.C., Asheville, Greensboro, Wilmington and Lexington, N.C.
"It is all part of our long-term plan to expand in a measured and careful manner," said Hills.
New Product Lines Introduced
Already known for carrying the complete line of Case construction equipment, among other lines, Hills Machinery has added several new products recently.
Last summer, the company began marketing Bell Trucks, which Hills described as a wonderful product that is currently available in its rental fleet across both Carolinas.
Then, earlier this year, Hills Machinery became the exclusive dealer of Terex/Finlay crushing equipment in North and South Carolina.
"We chose to take on the Terex/Finlay line because we kept getting requests from our customers for crushing and screening products that married up with our Case wheel loader and excavator product lines that we were already selling to people, so it expanded our product lines and allowed us to meet the broader needs of our customer base," Hills said.
He added that Hills Machinery will focus on the medium-sized impact crushers at the stores closer to the Atlantic coast, where the ground is less dense.
"As we get into the middle part of both North and South Carolina and the harder materials, we would expect to sell more of the jaw crushers, as well as the screens that go with these to segregate materials into different sizes," Hills said.
Hills sees the Finlay product line as an "extremely integral part of our overall business model to add value to the product offering that we bring to the customer."
In addition to adding the Terex/Finlay line, Hills Machinery is marketing the product line of Magnum hammers, steel shears and multiprocessors. Again, Hills believes that the Magnum line of tools will be a perfect match with the dealership’s Case excavators.
He said that having the Magnum attachments in its stores puts Hills Machinery, as it expands west across the two Carolinas, into areas that are more populated — with a corresponding increase in construction projects — and in need of more demolition products.
These are areas, according to Hills, that have large amounts of rock and soil, such as in Charlotte, Asheville and Greenville, S.C., where the company needs to be able to have a good hydraulic hammer offering that is well known and of a high quality.
Magnum easily fulfilled all of those requirements for the dealership, Hills said.
"We are actively stocking hammers for our rental fleet ranging from 12,000-foot-pound hammers down to hammers that will fit mini-excavators and skid steers" Hills said. "We are also stocking multi-processors so that customers can crush concrete with rebar in it and we will be stocking hydraulic shears, too. Those products will predominately marry up with our Case CX210-C, 48,000-pound excavators and our CX350-C, 78,000-pound excavators."
The third new product offered by Hills Machinery is the Mauldin Pavers line of equipment. Manufactured in Taylors, S.C., Mauldin will be sold exclusively in the Carolinas by Hills.
"We were extremely pleased that the product line was available," Hills said. "We wanted to learn as much as we could about the paving business because not only did it help bring products to our customers who were in need of another outlet for paving products but it gave us the opportunity to be a more valuable business partner to our customers."
Hills added that he believed the medium to small-sized paver, such as the Mauldin 1750-C, is the heart of the product offering, although Mauldin also makes a full product line, from small motorgraders to distributors and precision spray trucks.
Hills said his company intends to actively market all of Mauldin’s products, although he feels the mobile paving machines offer Hills Machinery the most lucrative opportunity to its customer base.
Stores Getting Upgrades
Hills Machinery’s two Palmetto State shops are currently undergoing major expansions.
The flagship Columbia facility is being doubled in size to almost 20,000 square feet, Hills said, with the addition of five additional drive-thru service bays, as well as a new parts storage and showroom area that is triple its current dimensions.
"This will allow us to stock more parts, hire more technicians and provide a quicker response time due to an easier availability of parts as well as the ability to get machines in and out of the shop quickly," Hills said.
He added that Hills’ Columbia technicians should be able to work on between 15 and 20 machines at one time in the renovated shop.
Further south in the fast-growing Charleston market, where Adam Hills serves as branch manager, Hills Machinery is working on upfitting that store, too, with additional office and service space and an upgraded outdoor work area.
"We are specifically expanding the back end of the shop where we will be providing a large open work area like we have off the back of our Columbia facility," Adam Hills said. "We are also re-doing the wash pit areas, putting in a more modernized water filtration systems and adding probably another 1,000 square feet of office space to accommodate new employees that we need."
In order to add to its service capabilities in Charleston, Hills said it is his firm’s intention to put two additional service trucks on the road, which will increase to four the number of service trucks there, as well as to maintain six mechanics within the facility.
New People Coming Aboard
Hills Machinery understands that the relationships it maintains with its customers are its most valuable assets. With that in mind, the company has made several new personnel hires at its various stores.
In North Carolina, Hills has brought on two new sales reps — Tom MacGibbon and Mark Hollingsworth.
MacGibbon joined the company’s Raleigh location in the spring. He has spent close to two decades working in the area and has a solid background selling the Case product line, Hills said. His territory will be the eastern side of Raleigh.
Hollingsworth came on board at the Greenville location after working for several other major construction equipment dealerships in eastern North Carolina. Hills added that he will be taking the territory from Greenville to the coast that had been worked by Billy Tedder, the Greenville branch manager, for the last 25 years.
"Billy will be basically handing that territory over to him and introducing Mark to his existing customer base," Hills said. "Mark has his own loyal following of people, too, because he has worked that territory for the last 16-17 years."
In the Charleston location, Hills has hired a new product support manager, Josh Smith, who the company moved to that store from his previous position in Texas.
According to Jim Hills, Smith has 15 years of experience both in equipment dealerships and in the highway construction business.
"He brings a unique background in product support and possesses an understanding of what customers need," Hills said.
When the new Charlotte location of Hills Machinery opens later this year, Bob Blevins will be working there as a new corporate parts manager.
Blevins joined the company after previously working at Company Wrench. Before that, he worked at two other dealerships that served as Case dealers in the Carolinas, Hills said.
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