When a company has been in business for 10 years and has seen growth in most of those years, the reason is due almost entirely to the experience and professionalism of its sales people and the relationships it has built with customers.
Nowhere is that more in evidence than at Pinnacle Central Company Inc., a Florida-based firm that has become one of the Southeast’s top suppliers of compressors and abrasive equipment to the industrial sector.
Pinnacle is celebrating its first decade in the corrosion control industry in 2010 largely because, as president and founder Steve Archibald said, “no one else down here can offer the complete range of products and services that we can.”
Archibald said that Pinnacle, through its two locations in Jacksonville and Polk City, concentrates its efforts on providing equipment and abrasive media to power plants, shipyards and paper mills, among other industries, as well as to the U.S. Navy and the nearby Kennedy Space Center.
Through its sales and rental offices, Pinnacle offers several different lines of air compressors, aerial and scissor lifts, forklifts, generators, blasting products, dust collectors, light towers, dehumidifiers and other products used in sand blasting. In addition, the firm sells the abrasives used to battle corrosion.
“Sand blasting is really a misnomer today,” Archibald added, “because very few people actually use sand. We offer a coal slag material, which is a Reed Minerals product. It is very hard and very angular. It comes in different sizes, from very fine to coarse, depending on what the particular application is and what the customer is trying to remove.”
Although most of Pinnacle’s business can be found in Florida and Georgia, the company has furnished equipment to projects throughout the region, Archibald said.
“If there is a large abrasive blasting job going on in this state or in the Southeast, we usually will get at least the chance to bid on it,” he explained. “That is due chiefly to our reputation from all the years in this business. It is because of that longevity, I think, and the availability of the equipment.”
Pinnacle has three sales associates in each of its two locations, and along with its parts and service personnel, counts around 24 employees. It is a far cry from the company’s beginnings in 2000 when the firm opened its doors in Polk City with just two employees.
In a business that is very relationship driven, Archibald said, he has a leg up on the competition due to the fact that the sales people at his company have, at a minimum, 15 years’ experience in the business. Archibald himself has been doing this type of work for 35 years, while his partner and company vice president David Devenburg, who will retire later this year, has been working in the business for 30 years.
Additionally, the general manager of the Polk City location, Dewey Winstead, has put in 25 years selling compressors.
“We were able to come up with good people as we grew,” Archibald said, “and we have had very little turnover. The sales force has been relatively constant for the last three or four years and the folks that we have we consider to be the cream of the crop in our industry.”
That experience has served the company well in helping to weather the recession of the last 18 months, he said. Another key factor may be found in the kind of industries that Pinnacle supports.
“The downturn in the economy has been a challenge, but the type of industries that we provide equipment for — power plants, paper mills, shipyards, Navy work — are always operating regardless of the economy,” Archibald said. “Infrastructure industries have to keep going. This business has its peaks and valleys, certainly, but they are just not as radical as in other businesses.”
He cited the Kennedy Space Center as being a very good slice of business for Pinnacle, as well as the work with the Navy, where its equipment services both submarines and surface ships.
As a result, despite Pinnacle’s revenues being down slightly in 2009, Archibald is already seeing a much better 2010 for the firm.
Yet another of the keys to Pinnacle’s success over the last 10 years has been its ability to establish itself as a one-stop shop for all of its customers’ corrosion control needs.
A good example of that can be found at a large bridge rehabilitation project adjacent to Pinnacle’s office alongside the St. Johns River in downtown Jacksonville.
The company has supplied the bridge’s contractor with every piece of equipment that it needs to get the job done — from air compressors, blasting equipment, man lifts and generators to the very abrasives needed to scour and clean the structure.
“Whereas we have competition in the rental of air compressors and other equipment, to a certain extent, very few people have the abrasive equipment or the abrasives themselves; and if they do, they don’t have the compressors,” Archibald explained. “Our competition handles the abrasives and some of the smaller abrasive equipment, but not the larger equipment that we can provide. A lot of small rental places have the 100-pound or the 300-pound pots. We specialize in 6-ton and above, all the way to 40 tons. It is difficult to find anyone else in the Southeast that does what we do.”
That includes manning a 24-hour service and parts department that is famous in the business for its dependability and responsiveness.
“We will do whatever it takes,” Archibald added. “We have a fleet of trucks here and everyone, me included, drives a pickup truck, so we can move at a moment’s notice to keep a job going.”
Among the brand name equipment Pinnacle offers are Doosan Infracore (formerly Ingersoll-Rand Portable Power), makers of compressors, generators and light towers; Genie, Skyjack and JLG, Pinnacle’s suppliers of various lifts; as well as other equipment from Ingersoll-Rand, Clemco and Empire Abrasive.
Pinnacle maintains warehouse facilities at each of its locations with a full stock of everything needed to make sure that a project is provided for with little delay.
“Abrasive equipment is very harsh on the consumables, as you might imagine, so we stock the consumable type stuff for almost any of the equipment that’s available,” Archibald added. “Whether it is a brand we represent or the competition’s, we can find the parts that are needed. If a guy walks in with an old pot, we can usually outfit what he needs to get it working again quickly.”
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