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James River Works Hard to Make Service Seem Effortless

Tue October 09, 2007 - Southeast Edition
Construction Equipment Guide

John Shearer’s philosophy on how to run a successful parts and service department sounds simple at first.

“No matter what it is, we’re going to provide a solution to the customer,” the James River Equipment vice president of product support said.

But the effort that goes into making their work seem effortless to the customer is intense.

First, the manpower must be there — James River employs 245 service technicians.

Then, they need the tools to get the job done. In addition to fully-equipped shops through James River’s locations, it has a massive truck fleet including 67 full service trucks, five rapid response trucks, two air conditioning repair trucks, two mobile welding trucks, one on-site hose replacement truck and seven preventative maintenance trucks.

And lastly, extensive knowledge of the equipment is a must. That’s why the company requires a minimum of 40 hours of training a year.

“We, by far, exceed that,” Shearer said.

He said 127 technicians have completed John Deere’s Level 1 certification and 85 of those technicians have completed Level 2. Additionally, James River technicians have completed 192 Capstone certification courses.

James River has corporate training centers at its branches in Ashland and Charlotte, which enables the company to bring in trainers from the manufacturer and customize the sessions based on the specific needs of its employees and the issues that arise in its machine population.

In the past year, James River has added rapid response trucks to its services. Manned by the best-trained techs, they normally respond to an electronic, software or hydraulic problem.

Shearer said those who man the rapid response trucks are “trained in trying to figure out the unknown.”

Rapid response trucks are stationed in Ashland, Manassas and Charlotte and one will soon be added to Salem.

These technicians are able to make six or seven calls a day, versus the one or two calls a normal service truck tech is able to handle.

“Our larger customers tend to like the rapid response trucks because a lot of their questions get answered right on the spot,” Shearer said.

This service has enabled James River to improve its average response time. Shearer said a tech will be on site to one of the larger customers within four hours 70 to 80 percent of the time. CEG staff

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