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Wall Gears Up for Owsley’s New Era

Wed June 14, 2000 - Southeast Edition
Sheila Irvine

To describe John Wall, new president of Owsley and Sons Inc., as enthusiastic is to greatly understate the energy with which Wall has embraced his new job and the new role of the company as a subsidiary of Consolidated Equipment Company Inc.

Based in Fort Mill, SC, with branches in Greensboro, NC, and Atlanta, GA, Owsley, then under the leadership of the now retired Reed Owsley, was sold to CEC in December of 1999.

“It was the greatest thing that could have happened,” Wall said. “We went from $80 million to $200 million [in gross annual sales] overnight, and we doubled our rentals within 90 day.”

Owsley is one of the largest distributors of Link-Belt cranes in the country, Wall said, and has been among the top three distributors for LBX and National Crane every year. “We’re in the top five for Kohler Generators, too,” he said.

Owsley sells and rents to sell equipment in South Carolina, North Carolina and Georgia, acting as the Southeast’s platform for CEC, Wall said.

“The used equipment we sell all over the world,” he said.

Owlsey also is one of the first distributors for Mannesmann Demag, a German company that builds large all-terrain cranes, Wall said.

“Right off the bat, since the consolidation,” Wall said, “we expanded our sales staff and service people.”

About 100 people work for Owsley, he said, and the employees average 15 years with the company, with managers averaging 25 to 30 years’ experience.

The merger was “well-received” by the employees, Wall said and has allowed the company to improve its health-insurance coverage and 401k retirement plans.

“There’s no ’this is mine, this is yours,’” attitude, he said. “The joining together of the two companies has been wonderful.”

Wall’s vision for the future is to take sales from $200 million to $450 million in five years, he said.

“Our biggest challenge right now is to integrate our information systems [computers]. The process is under way and will be completed within 90 days,” he said.

Wall, a business major, joined Owsley fresh out of the University of North Carolina, Charlotte, in 1979, as credit manager.

“I didn’t know a boom from a loud noise,” Wall said. He then worked in outside sales and then became a sales manager, learning the business with the help of people like Dick Owlsey, retire chairman of the board.

“The reason we’re successful,” Wall said, “is the people who work here. You’re only as good as your people allow you to be. They treat it as if it’s their own money. If a piece of equipment is damaged, they take it personally. They’re the best in the country.”

While Wall might be a bit biased, Link-Belt is also very pleased with Owsley’s performance. At a dinner cermony with Link-Belt management, John Clafin, vice president, sales and marketing, recognized Owsley and Sons Inc. as a top five crane distributor for 1999. In further presentations, Clafin went on to recognize Owsley as the top Link-Belt crane distributor for the 1990s.

Wall accepted the award on behalf of the entire Owsley sales team along with Reed Owsley, president.

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