Get the machine ready to go to work, not to be worked on.
That’s what Keith King, president and owner of King Machinery of Statesville, N.C., believes in.
His company, which was formerly called Asphalt Paving Equipment, recently got an opportunity to expand. It had been selling Gehl Paving Equipment.
“We had been a Gehl dealer for quite a few years only selling the paving line,” King said, “and we had been working with a local Gehl dealer for farm equipment for a while, because our customers didn’t overlap. They were targeting farmers and we were targeting pavers.”
But when the farm equipment dealer moved to a new territory, it left Asphalt Paving Equipment with an opportunity it couldn’t resist. Gehl Machinery asked the company to be the new dealer for all Gehl equipment.
“When the opportunity came to expand, we jumped on it. It became effective June 2008,” he said.
Asphalt Paving Equipment Inc. changed its name to King Machinery and began targeting farming, landscaping, general contractors and grading companies as well as paving contractors. The agreement came because the company had a good track record with Gehl.
“We had always done really well with the pavers. When you go to Google and type in paving equipment, we [Asphalt Paving Equipment] will be the first listing you see,” King said.
Gehl decided that if paving customers liked the company, other customers would like it as well. Gehl customers could continue to get good service and King Machinery could broaden its appeal.
“We’re based in the asphalt paving industry and, with picking up other types of Gehl Equipment, we are now able to provide the skid loaders, compact track loaders and mini excavators,” King said. “In today’s society, you have to be versatile. Paving is very seasonal. It’s more difficult keeping things going during the winter when all you sell is paving equipment. Construction Equipment is less seasonal.”
Another advantage is that the skid loaders help to complete a paving package.
“Smaller contractors will use a skid loader as a grader, and even large companies keep some skid loaders on hand for a large variety of jobs,” said King.
The company still feels that paving is a strong part of what it does, however.
“Asphalt paving equipment is still what we carry. It’s just not what we’re called anymore,” King said.
A Bigger, Better Facility
But with new customers on the way and a new product line to store, service and keep parts for, King Machinery’s small facility was starting to inhibit its growth.
Another problem was that the company’s operations were too spread out. King Machinery manufactures, reconditions, and sells new equipment. It had a separate building for each of these processes, and it was harder for teams to work together. Even though the square footage was only 7,500 sq. ft. (697 sq. m) it was located over 3.5 acres (1.4 ha), and it felt too big when different departments were in different buildings.
The solution was a new 31,000-sq.-ft. (2,880 sq. m) facility in Statesville, N.C. The new facility had much more square footage, everything was located in the same building and departments that needed to work together were placed close to each other.
“It allowed us to combine all our operations under the same roof,” said King, “and it gives us enough room to store the parts that customers need, display equipment inside and have additional room to expand. We have new offices, an indoor showroom, a new fabrication department, and an equipment body shop with a new paint booth.”
The facility also gives the company a great location.
“We now have over 500 feet of interstate frontage on I-77. Anybody traveling north or south can see the company and our equipment.”
The Long Haul
“Our repeat business is strong, because we treat customers the way we want to be treated,” King said. “They don’t want a show to be put on in front of them. They want to be treated with respect.”
Because of this, King’s mechanics carefully repair customers’ equipment and restore used equipment to look and operate like new, King said.
“We wouldn’t send out a product that we wouldn’t use ourselves. We’re in business for the long haul. If you can show the customers that it’s not just lip service, that you really are there to help them, they’ll keep coming back. We tell potential customers, ’If you give us the opportunity, we will earn your business.’”
One important part of customer care is servicing machines if a customer has a problem.
“Whenever possible, we send out our service truck and fix the problem on the spot. If we need to bring it back to our facility, we pick it up and can give them a loaner machine, when available,” King said. “Customers appreciate the loaner machine. It lets them keep going.”
Machines That Last
King has a lot of confidence in the Gehl Equipment Line.
“The reason we were so anxious to take the Gehl Equipment Line on is because it is a great product with regards to the design, the manufacturing and the serviceability,” King said. “I have a mechanical engineering background, so I look at things from that perspective and the design that goes into them really does stand out — the welding, the fabrication, the drive train components and especially the ease of routine maintenance.”
King also is offering attachments for Gehl and other brands of skid steers, compact track loaders, mini-excavators and some 3 point hitch tractors.
“We’re also a full line Mauldin Equipment Dealer. Mauldin offers one of the largest lines of new paving equipment and they are based out of the Greenville, S.C area. Those are great machines as well.”
King also sells new Wacker, Multiquip, Stohl equipment and a large variety of brands of used and reconditioned equipment.
“As far as refurbished equipment, we carry many brands including LeeBoy, Gehl, Gilcrest, Wacker, Ingersoll Rand and some Bomag.”
Much of the used equipment comes from customers, who trade in their current machines for King’s new and refurbished machines.
“Many customers desire to sell their equipment by consigning the equipment to our company. We agree on a price that the customer would like to receive for their equipment. We then recondition, repair and refurbish the equipment and absorb the cost of doing so, and then we sell it.”
King uses marketing, including Web sites, magazine ads and its sales base to find buyers.
“This allows us to sell customers’ machines faster than individuals attempting to market and sell their own equipment.”
King said there are many hurdles that have to be overcome when individuals sell their own equipment. Owners want only cash buyers, because they are not set up with financing sources. That limits the sale price they can achieve and limits the customer pool.
“One of the toughest things is going through all the credit issues and the financing — knowing where to go to get the proper funding for the deal. We know where to send a buyer’s credit application to get some of the best financing available. The lenders also know our reputation and equipment quality, which gives us more financing options. Our sales department can usually get deals approved much faster and with much less hassle for the buyers,” King said.
Paving a Path to Success
With its new product line and its loyal customers, King Machinery will continue its expansion process throughout 2009 and beyond, King said.
“We’re going to focus on local markets and current customers. We’re also going to add personnel as international equipment sales increase. In the past three years, our international sales of equipment and parts have more than tripled.”
King said the company is selling to South America, Africa, the Caribbean islands, Canada, Europe and Asian markets. CEG
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