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Yarbrough Looks to Future With Long-Term Rentals

Thu September 11, 2003 - Southeast Edition
Jennifer Conway



When Tom Yarbrough opened the doors to his central-Florida business in 1979, the doors led right into his home. Now the company, Yarbrough Equipment Rental and Sales, has expanded from conducting most of its business locally to renting throughout the entire state and selling equipment on national and international levels.

Family-owned Yarbrough Equipment specializes in the rental, sale and re-marketing of used, heavy equipment. Approximately 25 percent of the company’s revenue comes from sales, whereas 75 percent comes from rentals — and that’s where the company sees itself heading in the future. One of its current goals is to increase long-term rentals.

“We’ve been very successful since the expansion of our rental program this year. We’re located in central Florida but also rent in north and south Florida,” said Matt Yarbrough, vice president and Tom’s son. “We have our own transport so we have no trouble hauling machines to job sites. We also have certified mechanics who will service and repair machines on the job site.”

The company offers rental-purchase options that are convenient for its clients, allowing the customer to work with the equipment for an extended period of time, said Matt, “so they know that they’re buying a quality piece of equipment.”

With a $2-million inventory, Yarbrough rents and sells all makes and models of used wheel loaders, off-road dump trucks, skid steer loaders, excavators, material handlers, compaction equipment, motorgraders, dozers and more. When Yarbrough doesn’t have a specific machine in stock, the company has a purchasing representative who searches for customer requests on a daily basis.

As for new product lines, the company specializes in the Yanmar America mini-excavator and mini-wheel loaders and Terex material handling equipment, offering parts for Yanmar, TCI and Terex.

At ConExpo, Yarbrough Equipment was recognized as the No. 1 Yanmar dealer in the United States for 1998, noted Tom. “Two representatives from Yanmar in Japan came to the United States to present a plaque to us since we were unable to attend ConExpo.”

Centered between Tampa and Orlando, the company’s 10,000-sq.-ft., Plant City office and repair center is in a prime location for heavy equipment auctions. “We attend and participate in most auctions,” said Tom. Yarbrough’s largest one-time auction sale took place in Kissimmee, FL, at the Yoder and Frey auction, where it sold 38 machines.

Along with increasing its rental business, Yarbrough is looking to increase sales and exports, said Matt. But, “We do not anticipate the need for opening another branch since so much can be done via e-mail and the Internet.”

Over time, marketing schemes have changed, agreed Tom, who along with Matt, has used technology to increase sales and draw international attention.

Soon after college, Matt saw an opportunity for Yarbrough to profit from overseas buying and selling, mostly done using the Internet. The idea has worked well for the company, which now purchases 60 percent of its equipment internationally. However, the new business opportunity wasn’t readily accepted by Tom, who said that Matt and him fought like “cats and dogs” to move purchasing and sales to an international scale.

“Matt has a lot of energy and thinks positive about everything,” said Tom. “When he brought up the idea, I said ’Well, you’ve got to prove it to me.’” And he did.

The international buying and selling has brought Yarbrough Equipment “a lot of money,” noted Tom. “We went from buying from local dealers to large auction companies around the world — Malaysia, Indonesia, Japan.”

The company’s Web site also has played an important role in advancing sales. “Several customers buy our equipment without even looking at it, because our Web site offers detailed information about machines. We can even give inspection reports to meet their needs and make them feel comfortable about the transaction,” said Matt.

Yarbrough Equipment prides itself on its positive reputation in the industry and its relationships with customers. “Truth and honesty are the biggest components in sales – bad news travels,” said Tom. “Tell the truth and you don’t have to have a very good memory.”

Well-known throughout the heavy equipment industry, Tom rarely runs into a stranger and his upstanding reputation has had major impact in the company’s success. “Once I went to an auction in Baltimore and almost everyone I talked to knew my dad,” said Matt.

Tom ascribes much of his and the company’s success to his wife, Carol, who is the company’s secretary and treasurer. “My wife has a different outlook on the company,” he said. “I think I can change the world … she’s more down-to-earth and is good with things like numbers and discipline — her strength has helped me make the right financial decisions.”

“My wife and I have been through it all — good and bad,” said Tom. “She is my best friend.”

With the company’s reputable industry name, Matt foresees “excellent things” in Yarbrough’s future, with rentals and overall business continuing to grow.

“You’re not going to satisfy everybody at 100 percent,” said Tom. “But if you please 90 percent, your integrity grows.”

For more information, call 813/752-0768 or visit www.onlinemachinery.com.