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James River Branch Helps SW Virginia Farmers, Contractors

Thu October 13, 2022 - Southeast Edition #21
Eric Olson - CEG CONTRIBUTING EDITOR


Buddy McGlothlin (L), general manager of the Salem, Va., location, and Eric Finch, general manager of the new Boones Mill, Va., location (seen here), are working together to help their customers succeed.
(CEG photo)
Buddy McGlothlin (L), general manager of the Salem, Va., location, and Eric Finch, general manager of the new Boones Mill, Va., location (seen here), are working together to help their customers succeed. (CEG photo)
Buddy McGlothlin (L), general manager of the Salem, Va., location, and Eric Finch, general manager of the new Boones Mill, Va., location (seen here), are working together to help their customers succeed.
(CEG photo) Working together to solve a problem and fix a part are Jamie Smith (L) and Steve Garber, both service technicians at the Boones Mill, Va., location.
(CEG photo) The shop has six service bays to help customers get back up and running.
(CEG photo) Bob Gearhart, parts manager, Boones Mill, Va., gathers the needed items to fulfill a parts order.
(CEG photo)

James River Equipment, a John Deere agricultural and construction and machinery dealer in the Mid-South, earlier this year moved its Rocky Mount, Va., branch further north to a larger facility in Boones Mill, just south of Roanoke.

The Rocky Mount store had been in operation since 2017 at what had previously been a long-standing John Deere dealership 15 minutes south of the current branch along U.S. Highway 220.

Eric Finch, the store's general manager, said that James River's relocation to Boones Mill was done to better serve local farmers with operations both large and small.

In addition, the branch helps its construction customers that work to develop Franklin County, including at nearby Smith Mountain Lake, southern Virginia's top destination for folks wanting to build lakefront homes. The change of address puts the James River dealership closer to the turnoff from U.S. 220 onto Wirtz Road, which leads to the lake. In addition, Boones Mill is 15 minutes nearer to Roanoke.

"The traffic out here on U.S. 220 is substantially higher than it was in Rocky Mount," he said. "As a result, we have seen a significant increase in business since the move, and the new building has attracted people as well."

Branch Serves Both Farmers, Contractors

Finch noted that, above all, James River's Boones Mill store is a full-service agricultural branch that both sells John Deere-made tractors and keeps them running with its parts and service departments.

"We handle everything from lawn mowers and other lawn and garden products to compact tractors, full-size utility tractors, big agricultural tractors and all John Deere's large harvesting equipment, like planters and sprayers," he said. "We have a few customers who run large agricultural operations, but it is mostly customers with beef cattle farms that we sell our tractors to."

Helping James River's efforts, too, is the shoreline of Smith Mountain Lake, which has seen a steady rise in homebuilding over the past 35 years, with an emphasis on upscale houses, condominiums and golf communities. That means builders and lawncare professionals stay busy at the reservoir, and, by extension, a dynamic company like James River can thrive.

With the goal of supporting the company's nearby Salem location, which Finch described as James River's construction hub for southwest Virginia, he said

Boones Mill serves "many contractors that use compact construction equipment, as well as a lot of landscape companies, and many independent contractors that have one or two machines. We have a unique opportunity to support our construction customers in the region through our agricultural and lawn and garden footprint."

Although his branch does not stock parts for large construction equipment, Finch added, it can obtain parts from Salem, the one branch in the area dedicated solely to heavy construction equipment, or order directly from John Deere and have it in the Boones Mill branch just as quickly.

Normally, though, Finch's store shelves parts that most contractors — no matter their size — can stop in and pick up, along with light service, if needed.

"We do not plan to sell a ton of heavy excavators and bulldozers from here, but if we can help keep customers up and running down here without them having to drive more than an hour to Salem, that will really help us grow," Finch said. "We carry a full stock of parts for all compact construction pieces."

He added that the Salem store, and James River's three other nearby turf and agricultural locations — Boone's Mill, Amherst and Buchanan, each of which are within a 50-mi. radius of Salem — have banded together "to tighten up" their construction efforts between Roanoke and Lynchburg.

Other James River dealerships in the area can be found in Martinsville, an agricultural specialist south of Rocky Mount; and in Richlands, a construction branch located farther west in the state's coal region.

In total, James River Equipment has 24 locations in Virginia, with most focused on either agricultural/turf products or construction/forestry machinery. Some of its stores in Virginia, though, are designed to handle equipment for all these industries.

In addition, the company runs another 20 stores in North Carolina, and one each in South Carolina and West Virginia.

Product Offerings Expand at James River

Buddy McGlothlin, vice president and general manager of James River's Salem dealership, is excited that the Boones Mill branch is perfectly capable of providing a large contractor with what he or she needs, either through its service or parts departments or, in short order, those of the Salem branch.

"We offer full-service facilities with well-trained mechanics, and we have everything they would need on our shelves," said McGlothlin, who also manages the Richlands branch. "People coming in our branches will find we have a wide array of products for various industries, from the quarry and mining business to the residential contractor. Plus, we are getting very specialized with our ability to serve the drilling and the materials-handling industries."

Among the latter products that James River carries that are vital for contractors is the Epiroc line of drilling equipment, which McGlothlin characterizes as the premier class of rock-drilling tools in the country.

"And we are proud to represent that manufacturer," he said. "We were Epiroc's top dealer in the country last year."

James River also distributes an impressive list of material-handling manufacturers that, along with Epiroc, helps the dealership capitalize on a bit of resurgence in southwestern Virginia's coal industry, McGlothlin said.

"We think the coal business still has some legs to it in the region and we have worked to engage more in that industry," he added.

Material-Handling Division Creates Choice

James River also has created its own material-handling division in the past few years to sell, rent and service machines purpose-built for several different industries. That brought construction products such as crushers, screeners and conveyors to its yards and showrooms, in addition to machines for the forestry, scrap metal, recycling and agricultural trades.

With the new division, McGlothlin said, James River provides customers with total support and replacement parts for each line.

"When you talk about the affiliated lines we have, one of the world's best is SENNEBOGEN, which makes material handlers for construction and forestry," McGlothlin said. "In addition, Wirtgen makes mobile crushers and conveyors, but we have also taken on ancillary lines like Rubble Master, which also makes that equipment, and Superior, a company that produces the stationary crushers. So, we have everything from screeners to small crushers to commercial crushers at many area rock quarries and construction sites."

For Finch, he has enjoyed seeing James River's growth from simply being a dealer of John Deere excavation equipment to one that offers a diverse set of machinery from different manufacturers.

"Of course, we have always had other equipment lines, but we are now able to help contractors take the rock out of the ground, crush it, process it and get it to their companies to lay as base and apply rollers to it," he said. "It is the same on the forestry side, where the equipment we supply cuts trees, feeds them into wood hogs, and chips them. Our customers do that with the mulching and screening machines we sell that are made by companies like Morbark and Doppstadt."

Dealership's Branches All Row in Same Direction

James River Equipment recently unified its branches — no matter their specialties — to better steer the direction of the company and continue its 45 years of success, according to McGlothlin.

"I love what we are doing together," he said. "In the last 12 months, we have really started working as James River Equipment, rather than just James River Construction & Forestry or James River Agricultural & Turf. We have coordination meetings now on a quarterly basis with the company's personnel in Buchanan, Boones Mill, Amherst and Salem, and that includes all the parts and service management. In those meetings, we talk about synergies that we can create between each other to enhance the presence of James River in the region while improving these collective resources for our valued customers."

For more information, call 540/483-9234 or visit www.jamesriverequipment.com. CEG




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