When Walt Schwind established Champion Equipment in June 1973, he embarked on a solo journey to buy, sell and recondition quality construction equipment. As a five-year sales veteran of Caterpillar machinery, Schwind decided it was time to take his experience and venture out on his own.
“It was hard to find a good source for quality used equipment at the time, and there was a high demand for it,” said Schwind.
In 1977, the company that Schwind relied on to service his undercarriages went out of business. When it sold off its service equipment, including its track press, Schwind saw this as an opportunity to break into the undercarriage sales and service industry. He founded Bux-Mont Undercarriage Service and Supply Company that year.
Shortly after, an ambitious high-school student named Steve Pinzka joined Schwind’s team. In his 26 years with the company, Pinzka has learned every aspect of the job, from operating the track press to invoicing customers.
“My involvement in the company evolved as the years progressed. During the last 12 years of employment, I have been acting as the general manager with tasks that included quoting undercarriage jobs, as well as ordering the parts, billing the customers and managing the Bux-Mont employees,” Pinzka said.
Pinzka was given the opportunity to take the helm of Bux-Mont when Schwind decided to sell the company in February.
“It was time,” said Schwind. “Steve’s been with the company for so long and has learned every facet of its operation. When I decided to divest Bux-Mont and put more focus on Champion Equipment, I knew Steve would be the best person to sell the company to. He is uniquely qualified.”
Pinzka was very agreeable to Schwind’s proposition.
“Walt approached me when he decided to phase out of the undercarriage business and asked me if I would be interested in purchasing the company. This has been a life-long dream of mine to own and operate my own business. Then came the consideration of this being a family commitment as well. My wife, Kathy, and sons, Shane, Matt and Joey, were more than supportive of me making this a reality,” said Pinzka. The sale was finalized on Feb. 24, 2006.
“The construction equipment industry has changed a lot through the years,” reflected Schwind, who believes that media and technology have made the biggest impacts on how he now does business.
“Reaching customers is faster and easier than it’s ever been. Whether it be advertising in trade journals, or contacting them via cell phone, e-mail or fax, it’s just quicker,” said Schwind. He finds the technological advances make it possible to reach the decision-makers in a hurry.
Schwind also attributes industry change and growth to computerized accounting systems. What used to be a cumbersome task of invoicing clients is now a simple keystroke on the computer.
“The assimilation of information makes looking up a customer’s history so easy,” said Schwind.
In terms of the construction equipment itself, Schwind said it’s important to stay on top of the latest technology.
“Equipment is getting more sophisticated in terms of computer technology and hydraulics. Those in the business have to stay on top of the progress,” he said.
He feels that the price of used equipment is now determined by the major auctions that have penetrated the market. “A customer will shop the auctions to get a sense of pricing, then compare it with private dealers.”
When Schwind opened Champion Equipment, he specialized in buying and selling wholesale machinery. Soon after, he broke into retail and began reconditioning the equipment as well. In the past 10 to 15 years, one of his main focuses has been on major repairs to engines and transmissions.
“We specialize in Caterpillar equipment, though we deal with many other brands. We’ve been working with crawler loaders and dozers, and are now getting into excavators as well,” said Schwind.
Shortly after founding the business, Schwind hired his first employee, Les Myers in 1976. Three decades later, Myers is still a Champion employee, along with four other people including an office manager, mechanics and welders.
Champion Equipment shares an 11,000-sq.-ft. building in Chalfont, PA, with Bux-Mont Undercarriage, and Schwind’s latest business venture, Olympic Supply. Together with his son, Tom, Walt opened Olympic Supply in 1993.
Olympic Supply is an authorized dealer of Atlas Copco, Valley Blades Ltd., Hensley Industries, and Kundel Industries, to name a few. The company sells a variety of equipment including ground-engaging tools, hydraulic hammers and attachments, new and used buckets and shoring. Olympic’s service department also rebuilds buckets and hammers for all makes and models, and provides installation for hydraulic line kits.
“We realized that this was an untapped segment of the market,” said Tom Schwind. The company now has six employees including four salespeople, one service technician and a driver.
As for Bux-Mont, Pinzka plans to continue making strides in the undercarriage market.
“I look forward to serving the undercarriage needs of our valued customers and also to expanding our customer base. I am confident that our customers will be pleased with our work and straightforward time frame given for the completion of a job,” said Pinzka.
Pinzka anticipates expanding the Bux-Mont crew of six to meet the needs of “a growing and demanding industry.” In addition to selling new and refurbished undercarriages, Pinzka said that Bux-Mont has increased its sales in the track department including continuous rubber tracks and polyurethane rubber track pads.
“I appreciate the many good wishes and support I have received from customers and vendors alike. I am grateful for the opportunity to provide high quality repairs at competitive prices, and will welcome and value your business.” CEG