Sometimes, out of loss comes benefit. Pantaleo Electric Inc. of Freehold, N.J., has learned this lesson well — and was able to turn a stolen machine misfortune into an opportunity. Not all companies have the ability to do this. It comes with experience, good business sense and a positive attitude. Luckily, purchasing agent Lou Pantaleo has these things to keep this company sustainable.
Pantaleo Electric, founded in 1960 by Lou’s dad (now retired) and incorporated in 1966 is a small family business that was first opened as an electrical contractor. They have since grown and now specialize in heavy highway electrical work: bridges, turnpikes, street lighting, etc. With more than 40 employees on staff, which includes Lou’s mother, Dolores (the company president), two sisters, a brother-in-law and a brother, the company has a solid and reliable reputation based on its strong family foundation.
So when Pantaleo Electric suffered the theft of a Caterpillar 426 backhoe around Halloween in 2000 and a Caterpillar 420 backhoe in 2009, purchasing agent Louis Pantaleo took measures into his own hands. The 1997 backhoe was never recovered; nor was the 2009 backhoe, which had been secured with leg locks. Both pieces were insured, but, as Pantaleo comments, “The loss is crazy, even with insurance! You have to pay state tax on replacement purchases and your insurance premiums go up.”
Peace of Mind
To prevent any future machines being stolen he decided to put Product Link, Caterpillar’s remote equipment monitoring system, on a 420 E backhoe purchased from Foley, Inc. as a replacement. He was willing to spend extra money on the security system. “When you invest so much money on a new machine, what’s another $2,200 for protection?” In fact, he added the system to three other new machines in his fleet of about 50 vehicles.
Product Link’s satellite pinpoints the location of the machinery at all times and features a geo fence option that sends an immediate alert when the machine is operated outside a defined boundary. This keeps equipment from being driven away without authorization.
In addition to the alerts regarding unapproved use, the system tracks hours as well as the machines themselves. That helps with maintenance, simplifying fleet management, maximizing uptime and reducing operating costs. “It tells us what’s working and what’s not. It’s a cool system.”
That’s just one example of the how a knowledgeable sales person can benefit a Caterpillar customer. Fitting the product to the need is what Jon Musicant, Foley, Inc. equipment consultant, specializes in. “I counsel them on their needs; I don’t just sell. I help them get the right machine for their needs.”
“They’re a loyal Cat customer,” Musicant said. They’re strictly a Cat customer, Pantaleo emphasizes. Cat earned his loyalty because of the way they build their equipment, he said. His first Cat purchase was in 1995: a 416 D backhoe and it’s all he buys now. “They’re hard-working machines. They cost a little more, but they’re worth it. It’s a great product and our operators love it.” So, although they’re trying to conserve on expenses, their company is busy despite the economy and they still need equipment to do the work. Because Cat machinery holds its value, he said he can get his money back if he resells equipment, although he usually keeps pieces as “yard rats.”
Because Pantaleo likes to hang on to his equipment, he wants reliable pieces he can depend on: that’s why he buys only Caterpillar. But as a small company, he also needs to get the most out of each piece; he needs versatility.
Musicant realized that when Pantaleo was looking for a broom attachment for a backhoe. “They go for around $10,000,” he estimates, “but I knew that for a little more, they could get a skid steer with a broom attachment. It was a better option because it gives them more versatility.”
“A broom is so expensive,” Pantaleo agrees. “We saved a fortune by buying a used skid steer instead. It was only $20,000 more, but now we have another tool. It may be the best buy we’ve made. It’s handy.” He said its smaller size has made it convenient for doing several tasks without “wasting” a backhoe, and he said it was especially useful in snow this past winter.
Pleased with his purchase, Pantaleo praises Musicant for making such an insightful suggestion — but he’s not surprised. “Foley has a good sales guy; he’s not typical sell-and-walk-away salesman. He knows the applications and the equipment, so he can make suggestions like that. He knows we use a side dump to spill stone in the trench and that we need beacon lights on the road.” Pantaleo trusts his recommendations so much, in fact, that when he needed to hire office help, he interviewed an applicant Musicant recommended.
For Musicant, the great relationship he’s developed is what his job is all about. For Pantaleo, Musicant and Foley Inc. are an important part of his business. “He’s a great sales guy. He gives great prices, he’s available on the phone and he’s always on top of things.” Considering that Pantaleo said they’re “very particular about who we work with,” that’s quite a tribute.
This story was reprinted with with permission from Paydirt Magazine Fall 2010 issue.
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