One sure way for an equipment dealer to stay in business and grow is to develop a long-term relationship with its customers. The relationship is akin to and might be called friendship when a contractor can rely on its dealer to be there when service is needed for repair or solution for a particular need.
Since Thompson Equipment started in business in 1986 by partners Larry Caldwell, Dan Doyle and Bob Olivadoti, it has been a dealership whose customers know that it will back them up. And, over the years, Thompson Equipment has evolved into a full-service dealership covering the New England states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
Originally, the dealership sold and supported the Read Screen-All product line, but became a dealer for Pioneer in 1989, and most recently, added Doppstadt products to its lineup. Bringing Doppstadt on board was not a decision made lightly, but was an opportunity that presented itself at the right moment.
“For several years we carried Re-Tech trommels, but that line was discontinued after the Terex acquisition,” said Olivadati. “We needed to bring a trommel back to our mix and Doppstadt is the best-engineered trommel on the market. Doppstadt is a good match for us.
“They are a family-run business, strongly emphasize engineering, and have global sales of more than $300 million. That gave us a lot of confidence in the deal,” Olivadoti said.
Hugh Fagan, sales manager of DoppstadtUS, is very pleased with having Thompson Equipment on board as a Doppstadt dealer as well.
“Thompson’s commitment to service, parts and support are what really make the difference. Everything about their approach is just very professional,” he said.
Although Doppstadt was brought in to fill a need for a trommel line, Thompson is enthusiastic about the opportunity to also represent its high-speed grinder and slow-speed shredder product line.
“I see a lot of potential for those lines as the recycling applications grow,” said Olivadoti.
“Biofuel power plants are becoming much more common; and wood recycling, whether demo wood or bark mulch, is clearly here to stay.”
As the future potential for these applications is strong, Thompson Equipment believes the Doppstadt addition makes them well-positioned to benefit from the growth in this segment.
Focusing mainly on the aggregate industry in the past, this new direction has expanded the capabilities of Thompson and allows it to enter new markets.
“It [waste recycling] is a different business, but it is still processing,” added Olivadoti. “As a company, we understand material processing and handling, and with the help of Hugh [Fagan] and John [McGrath] at Doppstadt, we have been getting up to speed quite quickly,”
Fagan agreed, and has been impressed with the company’s quick adaptation to the recycling applications.
“They have been quick to identify where the current and future opportunities are, and have made the internal investment of time and effort to educate their staff and become a valuable resource for their customers in this business as well.”
Thompson Equipment is committed to its customers as is evident in its support and service structure. Olivadoti emphasized that service is the hallmark of a dealership’s long-term value to customer relationships, and Thompson Equipment takes that commitment very seriously.
“Service and parts is an important part of the business to us,” he explained. “We have a huge inventory of parts and tools that we maintain. We have three road crews that can handle any complexity of repairs. Our customers don’t have to wait long to get help from us — down time is the one thing that will cost you a lot of money in this business.”
However, Thompson Equipment’s success is predicated on the quality of the people who work there. Olivadoti and Doyle are active partners in the business, and play many roles.
“Officially, Danny [Doyle] is the general manager, and I function mostly in sales,” explained Olivadoti. “But I also work on advertising and wear a number of other hats, as does Danny. We really all do whatever needs to get done.”
But Olivadoti is quick to heap praise in every corner.
“We have a good mixture of veterans and rookies; people who have been here for 20 years. Jim Abbott in New Hampshire was a customer with his father before joining our team. Don and John in parts and all the guys in service are hardworking, knowledgeable and very friendly. They’re a key part of our success. And, nothing would happen at all if we didn’t have Sara [Chandler]. She handles all the paperwork and orders for us, absolutely invaluable.
“It takes a lot of money and a lot of commitment to run a dependable dealership, and be competitive. We were here 20 years ago, and we’ll be here 20 years from now — that means something to a well-established, family business,” Olivadoti concluded.