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Road Machinery Services Still Going Strong After 50 Years

Wed June 14, 2000 - Southeast Edition
Sheila Irvine

A lot has changed over the half-century since Alex Mendaloff Sr. founded Road Machinery Services, Stateville, NC, and current president and chief stockholder John Heath has seen many of those changes.

“But our key focus has stayed the same,” Heath said. “We’ve tended to our knitting — providing parts and service for the aftermarket undercarriage business.”

If it relates to the aftermarket undercarriage, “We sell it, we stock it, we repair it and we install it,” Heath said. “I like to say we’re like a NAPA store for heavy equipment parts.”

“Every bulldozer, every crawler, every loader, every excavator” has the undercarriages Road Machinery works on and services, Heath said.

So, business is “excellent and growing,” he said. “We’ve grown on a consistent, steady basis.”

Some of the major changes Heath has witnessed over the years include a realignment of the “Big 3” in machinery production.

“It used to be Caterpillar, International Harvester and Allis-Chalmers,” he said.

“Now it’s Caterpillar, John Deere, and Komatsu.”

Heath remembers back when equipment operators’ only protection from the elements was an umbrella over the driver’s seat.

“Now, of course, you have air-conditioned cabs, and OSHA has required rollover cabs so the operator doesn’t get crushed,” Heath said.

Machines that used to be cable-operated are now hydraulically operated, Heath said. Also, there are now power shift transmissions, turbo chargers, torque converters and other improvements.

Although undercarriages are the company’s focus, another aspect of Road Machinery Services is “ground engaging tools with bucket teeth and cutting edges,” Heath said.

“You can’t do anything without moving dirt,” he said.

Road Machinery deals with Pacal Co. out of Minneapolis-St. Paul for cutting edge, and with H&L out of Tulsa, OK, for bucket teeth.

To keep the company’s 24 mechanics busy between undercarriage and groundmoving machinery jobs, the company “got into the remanufacturing of landfill and soil compaction equipment,” Heath said. “We buy the machines and dismantle them, rebuild them and resell them back to cities, counties and contractors, and that accounts for about 10 percent of our business.”

After working for E.F. Craven Co. out of Greensboro, NC, and doing consulting work, Heath bought the company in 1979 from M&L, the company which had taken over from Mendaloff in 1975.

Heath served on the board of the Independent Dealers Association for 14 years. The “highly respected” association represents dealers from all over the world, he said.

Heath credits his partners, son Steve Heath, senior vice president, and Mark Hiatt, vice president and general manager, both longtime employees, with major contributions to the company’s success.

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