Jess Berrong is retiring from his position as used equipment coordinator after 20 years with Alban Tractor Co. Inc. of Baltimore, Md.
His responsibilities included inventory control and coordination with Alban’s field sales force. Berrong also was the point of contact for inquiries related to used equipment.
Berrong said that his favorite thing about his position was answering the phone and assisting customers in their search for the right machine, but that callers needed to have some idea of what they wanted to buy. Berrong doesn’t have much patience for calls where all the person knows is that they want “some type of big yellow Caterpillar machine” for export.
Vice President of Sales Jim Stewart remarked, “Jess reminds me of Radar O’Reilly from the TV show MASH. He always tries to have what you want before you want it.”
Berrong’s attention to detail and his valuable experience made him a key player on Alban’s team, but those calling from outside of the company might not have been aware of Berrong’s tendency to growl.
“He acts like a bear with a thorn in his paw with most of the salesmen,” said Stewart. “But if you wanted to know the details about a deal back in 1969 — the price, the S/N, the GP, the warranty, Jess would amaze you with the facts.”
John Alexander, Alban’s used equipment manager, characterized Berrong this way: “He is like Alban’s Chihuahua — not big enough to hurt you, but his bark gets on your nerves!”
Alexander said everyone knew that underneath that gruff, military façade was a big heart and a desire to help people out.
“Jess has done an outstanding job for Alban over the past 20 years,” Alexander said.
As he reflected on the changes he has seen in the used equipment business, Berrong recounted how Ted McKeon, now president and publisher of CEG, used to visit the Alban branch stores every month with a Polaroid camera to take the pictures of the machines for the paper.
“Now you can get digital pictures from anywhere in the world,” Berrong said.
Even with the advent of the Internet, Berrong noted that the paper edition of Construction Equipment Guide is still very important for his customers.
Sometimes access to information can complicate the situation. Berrong noted that it is customary now to find multiple brokers representing the same machine on the Internet, which makes it imperative for the dealer to be accurate in their representation of the iron.
Berrong noted, “The equipment business will always be a relationship driven business. Your word is your bond. Your reputation is everything.”
Those who have had the pleasure of doing business with Berrong wish him well in his retirement. According to Berrong, he plans to spend more time on his hobby — gardening. He also said that he might try his hand at substitute teaching history at the local high school.