Aggretek proves there’s a seat at the table for equipment manufacturers striving to do business differently
In equipment manufacturing it typically takes 15 to 20 years to gain street cred and brand recognition amongst legacy stalwarts. Aggretek, the industry’s newest manufacturer of aggregate and mining processing equipment, established that critical relevance in two. Although they make custom equipment for use in a specific industry, their approach to building a new manufacturing business in a hotly competitive space has value for companies across the board.
Prior to launching Aggretek, company founder and president Eric Amberson was a seasoned sales executive in the aggregate equipment manufacturing sector; his leadership tenure included stints at major players that included Metso, Atlas Copco, Hartl GMBH, and Weir Minerals. Not only did he have the deep industry knowledge, sales expertise, and leadership chops to start a new venture, he had a small, mothballed company that could serve as the platform for a startup with a better way to do business.
That small business was a remnant of a manufacturing firm Amberson owned that had been acquired by a large corporation. When that company ended the line of business the machines were made to serve, they returned the company to Amberson, where its remains served as a parts supplier for existing machines. “My wife and daughter asked me, ‘Why don’t you do something else with it?’ So I thought about it for three or four days and then started making calls,” he said.
At the time, the company Amberson had been working with was sourcing all their equipment out of China and was reeling from the 25% tariff levied by the U.S. government on the components they required. The uptick in costs made competition in their marketplace untenable. Consequently, certain business lines were abandoned, leaving a gap in the middle market for aggregate and mining processing machines. The opportunity to fill that huge hole was too good for him to pass up.
Amberson decided that if he were to build a new market entrant those machines would not contain parts from China, preferring suppliers who hewed to the infamously rigorous European manufacturing standards. After he built alliances with firms that met those standards and produced high-quality machines, Aggretek came to fruition.
Their initial approach to fill a chasm in the middle market for aggregate processing machines changed quickly. “As we’ve gone through the growing pains we’ve expanded our horizons,” he said. “We decided to develop four entire lines from scratch with new engineering that we are integrating into our factories.”
Today, Aggretek provides aggregate processing equipment, water recycling, and waste management technology used in the production of construction aggregates. Those lines are the Redline brand of screens, crushers and feeders, Nexus wet processing equipment, VXR specialized gyratory cones, and the high-speed Genesis Gen 4 cone crusher series.
Aggretek engineers and designs the products it sells. “The products that come from our sub-suppliers are built to our standards, our engineering, our designs, and our changes,” Amberson explained. “Our early phase prices and selling points were established because we were competing against the Chinese market. … We’re not manufacturing in China. There’s not one nut, bolt, or washer that comes from China. Everything is built from our European base.”
The changeup that changed the game
For years, Amberson had watched customer and dealer relationships in the majors eroding steadily, and it didn’t sit well with him. “They were getting into a ‘book and burn’ mentality, for lack of a better term,” he said. “I didn’t want my company to run that way.” He thought back to the business ethos that was in place when his father worked in the mining industry, when handshakes sealed deals, trust was paramount, and transactions had a much more human touch.
“People still buy from people, and big corporations have forgotten that. We came up with a different dynamic and said, ‘We’re going to be old school, remember our roots, and remember how we like to be treated, and we’re going to treat our customers that way,’” he said. Aggretek was formed with future-forward technology and an old-guard sensibility that Amberson knew would stand the test of time. “Those ethics are what we live and die by every day. Every single piece of equipment we sell has our name on it, and it means something. We truly, legitimately care.”
Having a solid gold reputation amongst equipment dealers he knew from his work at other companies made assembling the company’s dealer network an easy task for Amberson. “Our dealers have weathered the storm with us. They were forgiving and understanding as we went through the hurdles you go through as a new manufacturer bringing new products to market,” he said.
Underscoring the value the organization places on its dealers is the company’s Dealer Association Council, developed to maintain transparency, open communication, and support. “We are a see-through glass,” he said. “If a customer has a problem with a machine in Indiana, at the Dealer Association Council every dealer will know about it. I’m not about hiding anything, not the problems or the successes.”
After a career of navigating complex hierarchies and multilayered, time-consuming decision-making processes, Amberson was determined to create a flat management structure that enabled staff to work with speed and agility. “Every single person who works for Aggretek has a voice. They don’t have to go through 17 steps and talk to my secretary and schedule an appointment. On the corporate tree I’m president, but I’m on the low branch with everyone else.” Weekly all-staff meetings keep everyone informed.
To top it off, the company is 100% debt-free. Amberson used his own money to establish the firm, never taking out a bank loan, and paid for machinery up front without negotiating on purchasing terms. “It was very cash-heavy, but the company has zero debt,” he said.
“For a company of this magnitude and what we’ve done, to have a company with zero debt is pretty much impossible — but we are. We don’t even have a credit card bill.”
Candid self-examination has been key to Amberson’s leadership methodology, stemming from lessons learned as a teen with a passion for motocross. “My dad built a practice track for me in the backyard, and I’d ride around all day long, and I’d come in for dinner and tell him how fast I went. And he’d say, 'Compared to what? The invisible guy that was riding next to you?'"
I’ve lived my life that way. I’m extremely competitive from a business standpoint, and I always ask myself that when I’m doing anything. 'Are you doing it right? Compared to what? Are you providing a good product? Compared to what?' If you ask yourself that question enough times you’ll end up doing things right.”
Clearly, the Aggretek team is asking the right questions, and racing ahead with responses that the industry is eagerly embracing. Thanks to tenacity, sweat, and an unflinching drive to do better, at just two years old Aggretek is a niche player with a very bright future.
We supply equipment and support throughout North America. Backed by more than 700,000 square feet of manufacturing, a strong dealer network, and two service centers in the United States, Aggregate Technologies Group (Aggretek) provides quality equipment at a fair price without tariffs or excessive lead times.
Our equipment is proper production machinery with quality assurance, quality control and supported by our premier dealer network that will support you from initial sale to aftermarket years down the road.
Quality aggregate and mining process equipment. Jaw crushers, cone crushers, screens, apron/pan/grizzly feeders, conveyors, dewatering screens, compact sand plants, UFR plants, fine material washers, log washers, blade mills, coarse material washers, vertical shaft impactors, horizontal shaft impactors.
Aggregate Technologies Group
150 Isidor Ct.
Sparks, Nevada 89441
Email [email protected]