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Wright Credits Early Mentors for SoCal JCB's Success

Tue June 27, 2023 - West Edition #14

Dealer Principal of SoCal JCB, Caleb Wright, and his six-year-old son, Judah.
(SoCal JCB photo)
Dealer Principal of SoCal JCB, Caleb Wright, and his six-year-old son, Judah. (SoCal JCB photo)
Dealer Principal of SoCal JCB, Caleb Wright, and his six-year-old son, Judah.
(SoCal JCB photo) (L-R): A portion of the Fontana team includes Michael Madrigal, parts advisor; Art Ramirez, parts associate; Cristina Padilla, accounting assistant; Rodrigo Duran, service manager; Vic Munoz, technician; and Noah Lira (apprentice). This team has worked tirelessly to increase sales and customer service objectives at this location.
(SoCal JCB photo) The La Mirada location is the newest location for SoCal JCB.
(SoCal JCB photo) Caleb Wright has the enterprise on a pace for 60 percent growth in his 12 months on the job.
(SoCal JCB photo)

A heavy equipment career that began with an internship at a Cat dealership during the Great Recession has morphed into a dealer principal position for a 36-year-old California man.

SoCal JCB's Caleb Wright has leveraged what he calls "great early mentors" to a bright future leading JCB's sales and support efforts in the huge Southern California market. Wright became Dealer Principal just last year, but has the enterprise on a pace for 60 percent growth in his 12 months.

Wright has been in the heavy equipment industry for nearly half of his life: 17 years. He credits his early mentors for instilling the love he has for the heavy equipment industry and his early success running his own dealership. His passion for the industry began at the age of 16 at an independent auto shop in Carmel, Ind., and then to a college internship at MacAllister Machinery (CAT) in Indiana. His time at MacAllister was "life-changing," according to Wright.

"MacAllister Machinery was, at that time, a well-respected Cat dealer in Indiana, but had not yet become the business they eventual developed into," Wright said. "It was clear there was something great happening and I was so fortunate to be a part of the unique entrepreneurial environment. I watched how they navigated the recession in a way that resulted in an explosion of growth. During my internship, I worked in the service department and then worked for the director of service operations where I was introduced to Lean Six Sigma methodologies and, before I knew it, all of the things that I learned had real application."

Upon graduation, MacAllister was quick to offer Wright a permanent position.

"MacAllister was my home," Wright said. "I thought I'd be there forever."

"Forever" lasted 14 years, at which time Wright and wife, Christie, decided to pursue their dream of living and working in California. An offer to become general manager of RDO Equipment in Riverside made that dream a reality in 2020.

Wright attributes the move to RDO to his wife's more "adventurous spirit" and that they try to make decisions based on future regrets and they knew we would regret not taking a chance. "If we were going to make a move, now was the time while our children were under 5.

"Similar to MacAllister, I'm grateful for the opportunity and experience that RDO gave to me," Wright added. "I was able to lead my own dealership effort, all five phases: parts, service, sales, rental and technology. I was 33 years old, and that team rallied around me, a new young leader, running a very large business."

But when JCB reached out, the idea of owning his own dealership with a good manufacturing partner in JCB was another potential future regret that the Wright's just couldn't pass by.

"The thought that I could be in control of the culture, taking care of employees and customers in my own way, was exciting," Wright said. "I also believed in the future of JCB in the US with the company investing heavily in manufacturing facilities and parts distribution throughout the country."

Growth for Wright is about responsible growth and adding employees where needed. Since taking over the dealership, Wright has gone from 18 to 24 employees. Wright plans on "adding a new technician every month this year, and as we keep doing that, we're able to take care of customers in a way that we have not in the past.

"We prioritize problems and engage and don't think that problems are going to solve themselves," Wright added.

As an owner, he engages fully. Wright compares running SoCal JCB to "big dealerships in the 60s, if you had a problem, you would call the owner, because you knew him and he would gather the team and solve the problem."

Wright realizes that can be more challenging as companies get bigger, but it's a philosophy he drives into each member of his SoCal JCB team.

"That is our advantage as a small business," Wright said. "We don't want our internal challenges to become a barrier to our customer's success. It is our responsibility to be outward focused and provide solutions."

Wright admits that this is about "legacy."

"I don't come from family business, but what I come from is parents that are wise, committed, engaged and incredibly present in my life," he said.

"I've been fortunate to have had a lot of unique experiences in my life, experiences that a lot of people don't have and, because of that, I feel a responsibility and a need to pay that forward," he said. "This is a 100-year commitment that my family is making, what we hope will be our legacy."

Wright is very close with his parents, who still reside in Indiana.

"My dad only understands a portion of this world, but he is still the person that I call weekly, at my highs and my lows," Wright said. "My parents are part of the SoCal JCB team in that way.

"I truly believe good things happen when good people come together and work hard, and that's what's happening at our dealership." Wright added.

And Wright is excited for the future of SoCal JCB.

SoCal JCB has two locations: 14675 Valley Blvd., Fontana, Calif., 92335 and 14480 Alondra Blvd., LaMirada, Calif., 90638

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