Victor L. Phillips Parlays Light Iron Success Into New Market

Tue June 21, 2005 - Midwest Edition

Lynn Ronnebaum, Kansas City branch manager of The Victor L. Phillips Company, has spent the last eight months revamping the company’s personnel as it moves forward into the crushing, screening and pavement and compaction markets. By hiring new management, Ronnebaum is positioning the Kansas City branch to be a premier player in the quarry market.

Although Victor L. Phillips is one of the oldest compaction equipment dealers in the nation, it wanted to revitalize its sales position in this area. With sales territories expanding throughout western Missouri, Kansas and now, northern Arkansas, VLP decided that it was essential to implement management changes as the company shifts its focus more onto heavy equipment.

Ronnebaum’s goal is to retain current business while progressing forward and introducing customers to different types of equipment in the quarry business.

In previous years, Victor L. Phillips has derived the majority of its market through light utility construction. The bulk of its business coming from the sale of smaller machines, such as skid loaders, mini-excavators, mini-crawlers, hydraulic hammers and tractor loader backhoes.

Ronnebaum said, “We have always been in the heavy market, with hydraulic excavators, wheel loaders, motorgraders and paving and compaction, and crushing and screening equipment. During the recent recession it was necessary to downsize, To focus efforts and broaden our product offering.”

More than a year ago, Ronnebaum joined Victor L. Phillips. His goal was to get key employees on board who have the experience necessary to pursue areas of the equipment industry where some weaknesses were defined.

Ronnebaum took an unconventional approach while he searched for a new service manager. He went straight to the source of his business and asked key customers who they would like to see in this position.

Jim Myers, who has been in the crushing and screening business for more than 30 years, was mentioned several times. In October, he was brought in as the head of corporate responsibility for the service departments in each of VLP’s six locations.

Ronnebaum used the same method in May of this year to find Bill McDermott, the new corporate parts manager. He has more than 20 years of experience and said that he looks forward to expanding the parts department to better serve the crushing and screening market.

Even with the help of VLP’s customer base, Ronnebaum said that the selection process for his new management team was not an easy task.

“Since the company is currently working to refocus its market from light utility machines to heavy equipment, we’ve raised the bar by making our hiring procedures and guidelines tougher,” he said. “At VLP, we view our employee quality in such high regard because there is no Plan B in the crushing and screening market. Customers can’t rent this type of equipment just anywhere. When those machines need repairs, we have to have competent people to take care of those issues. With tough deadlines and heavier penalties being imposed on contractors, VLP has to raise the bar on product support.”

With its new corporate motto of “No Soft Answers,” VLP has set a goal for all employees. This means we will have any product support issue resolved, within 48 hours, or it goes to senior management here and at the manufacturer for quick resolution.

VLP took some extraordinary steps recently, and sent its entire sales and management team to a training facility in Garland, TX. There, the staff got a chance to tour the facility and spend a day in a local quarry drilling holes and learning valuable techniques of the trade.

Another area of personnel expansion Ronnebaum identified included municipal sales. Jim Hermon has come on board as the light utility and governmental salesperson for the Kansas City market and the four surrounding counties. Hermon’s focus is to expand the light utility market, particularly with the sale of skid loaders, tractor loader backhoes and excavators.

Ronnebaum said that this addition to the team allows the other salesmen to focus more on heavy equipment. The company will strive to keep a persona1 relationship with customers in both areas.

By familiarizing themselves with the company on a one-on-one basis, VLP’s customers have the opportunity to cement exclusive partnerships. In turn, Ronnebaum hopes these relationships will bring the best of both industries together.

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