For National Equipment Dealers, uptime is the name of the game, no matter what it takes
Achieving success is one thing. Sustaining it is quite another. The key is recognizing that there’s always room for improvement.
“We never take the attitude that we have the only way of doing something,” Jesse Beasley, COO of National Equipment Dealers, told BOSS.
Make no mistake, the collective of large heavy equipment rental, sales, and service at NED is staggering. It’s because of that outlook that the company has grown to cover five states and 14 facilities, with more on the way, without losing the personalized service that separates NED from competitors.
The companies now under the NED umbrella include what was formerly MAY-RHI, Four Seasons Equipment, Earthmovers Construction Equipment, Grove River Machinery, and Richardson Service 1991, Inc. More than just adding their names, they added decades of experience, knowledge, and reputations for maximizing their clients’ uptime.
Beasley himself is well-steeped in that tradition, having been with the company since 2013 and managed operations at seven branches in the Carolinas, Georgia, and Florida. In that time, NED has grown by leaps and bounds, but always in a way that makes the whole greater than the sum of its parts.
What makes NED’s growth sustainable is that it’s never growing just to grow. The companies NED acquires have their own histories of success and building a strong culture.
“These owners could just take their check and go home,” Beasley said, “but they built good businesses, and we want them to stay around.”
One thing they typically have in common is that they’re family-run companies that deliver on their promises. Another is longstanding relationships with key suppliers, particularly Hyundai and Bell.
While their “backbone is heavy dirt moving,” as VP of Fleet Management Will Blackerby puts it, they’ve diversified quite a bit. You’ll find NED equipment in the hands of small and medium contractors as well as large site development general contractors, doing jobs from forestry and mulching to scrap metal and material handling to municipal landfill work to underground utilities to oil and gas contractors.
In the new markets they enter, they’re providing customers the comfort of knowing they have a strong dealership to rely on, supplying equipment that will be there for the long haul. No matter how big NED gets, service will always be the bedrock.
“As (Chairman) Kerry Vickar always says, service sells every machine after the first,” Beasley told us. When customers call, they’re doing so for a reason. “They’re calling either because we’re costing them money, or they want to spend money with us. Their success is our profitability, and vice versa.”
The more NED delivers, the easier it is to grow.
Matching the Product to the Job
The first step in helping customers finish jobs more quickly and efficiently is asking them about what they need done, rather than jumping straight into sales mode. With a fleet of more than 900 machines, NED is sure to have the right one. While most dealers offer equipment either as strictly rental or rent-to-own, NED is flexible enough to do both.
“We have a little bit of everything,” Blackerby said. “Let us know what you’re looking for in terms of price and usage, and we can supply it for you.”
Though the fleet is expansive, each machine is well-maintained. NED will even tear a machine down if a customer needs a part right away and that’s the only way to get it. Whatever it takes to save uptime, that’s what NED will provide.
The quality of the brands NED uses means breakdowns are fewer and further between, but inevitably they still happen. That’s where those decades-long relationships Hyundai, Bell, and others come into play, ensuring there’s a piece of equipment available when it needs to be.
A deep familiarity with different machines and their capabilities is invaluable.
“The market is always changing,” Blackerby said. “The equipment has more attachments; a lot of these machines are like Swiss Army knives now.”
As new products come out, NED continues to diversify its fleet because that’s what customers — who find themselves diversifying the kinds of jobs they do — need. If a client needs to test drive a piece of equipment first, that’s no problem.
“We find ways for our customers to be more profitable and look out for their best interest,” he said. “Equipment’s going to break. The customer wants the comfort of a relationship with a dealer that’s capable of taking care of them when it does.”
Each branch revolves around parts and service, and technicians are always attaining new certifications and training either at NED facilities or on-site with manufacturers. When a new branch opens, NED will promote from within and transfer technicians to make sure it flourishes from the get-go.
“Without talented techs and parts salesmen, we don’t have a branch,” Blackerby said, so continuous learning is crucial.
Sell What You Know
That philosophy of hands-on learning applies to the sales team as well.
“You can’t really know a machine unless you sit in the seat and hold the joystick,” Chief Sales Office Dan Letterle said.
To that end, NED has one or two demo days each year where the entire sales force assembles for instruction product experts to see what new machines can do and learn about new features on existing equipment.
Management frequently goes out on the road with the sales team, and more experienced staff members mentor the newer ones.
“Their biggest talent is listening and taking customers’ concerns to heart,” Letterle said. “They listen to objections and have a reputation of running to problems.”
Combine that with extensive knowledge of machines’ capabilities and you can come up with creative solutions for a lot of issues that might arise. For instance, when COVID-related supply chain issues limited the availability of some machines and slowed business for clients, NED leased them for fewer hours.
“We deal with the realities of business, and we keep customers informed.” Letterle said.
They also know the value in showing, not telling. NED salespeople will share what they think a machine’s production capability is, then take it out in the field and prove it. As the best salespeople do, they make it easy to see the value of their products.
“We ask customers where they would have a need for a particular tool,” he said. “We package it to where they don’t need a lot of imagination to figure out how they’re going to use it.”
People buy from people they trust to treat them right and to know the product inside and out.
“Our business is blue-collar,” Letterle said. “In the end, people do business with people face-to-face. Our guys are great at it.”
‘All About Uptime’
As Vickar and Beasley say, looks or need might sell the first machine, but service sells each subsequent one. It doesn’t matter if it’s the most beautiful machine ever made if it’s broken.
“It’s all about uptime, not about curb appeal,” Chief Technology Officer Rob Lynch said.
Lynch has a team of more than 50 in tech support and a fleet of more than 70 service trucks. All day, every day, they’re focused on quick responses when problems arise. Even when they can’t get customers back up and running immediately, they strive for a same-day response and are in constant communication about when a solution will be found, be it a fix, a replacement part, or a machine for a few weeks.
As Blackerby put it, “We have quality equipment, of course, but the way to differentiate yourself is by customer support.”
Having that large fleet and 14 locations and growing to respond quickly helps. So does having a very strong relationship with manufacturers. Downtime is costly for NED’s customers, so they make sure to limit it wherever possible. If that means tearing a part of a machine in that well-maintained fleet, that’s what they’ll do, no matter who you are.
“We’re a large company, but not so big that customers are just a number to us,” Lynch said. “Whether you buy 50 machines or one, we’re going to take care of you.”
You might get a certain image in your mind when you think of a heavy equipment dealer, something along the lines of, in Blackerby’s words, a company’s whose “heritage is in moving dirt.” You probably don’t think of checking whether they have a YouTube page. But what better way to show off all that equipment and what it can do?
It’s part of a forward-thinking digital strategy that increases visibility for NED as it continues expanding into new markets. Video tutorials on specific pieces of equipment show customers how to get the most out of the machines. Other videos show clients putting those machines to work.
“It’s all about appreciating our customers and showcasing their businesses,” said VP of Marketing Corey Rogers, who regularly visits with loyal customers and highlights their success stories on NED's YouTube channel.
With such rapid growth and bringing so many companies and territories into the fold, social media is a great way to spread awareness of the NED brand. Social media, especially Facebook, has been great for lead generation, and NED’s been hard at work refining its website for easy navigation on the front and improved SEO on the back end. The more people are introduced to NED, the more they see the NED difference.
The tools evolve over time, the machines become more advanced, and the online presence grows. What doesn’t change is the commitment to service that built NED. That “customer up top” mentality remains the core of NED’s mission, keeping the work moving along at a steady pace.
“If the end user makes a higher profit because they are dealing with us, we're going to be able to continue to grow our market share and company,” Beasley said. “We're always looking for ways to make that happen for our customers.”
Do that, and the rest will take care of itself.
National Equipment Dealers, LLC, [NED] is a large heavy equipment rental, sales, and services company with over 30 years of customer service and support.
Now under one name, NED is represented across five states with 14 locations in Texas, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Florida.
NED previously acquired four legacy companies, including Four Seasons Equipment, MAY-RHI, Earthmovers Construction Equipment, and Richardson Service 1991 Inc.
Our dealerships represent many brands of construction equipment, industrial equipment, and attachments.
Some brands are represented across all companies, like Hyundai Construction Equipment and Bell Trucks, and many other brands are represented in specific regions, including Manitou, Mustang, Gehl, Yanmar, Screen Machine Industries (SMI), Loadrite, Dynapac, Sakai, Kinshoffer, Denis Cimaf, Werk Brau, Pemberton Attachments, Tana, Humdinger Equipment, Fuchs, Lamtrac, Builtrite Attachments, Rockland Attachments, Barko, Prinoth, CMI and others.
National Equipment Dealers
8111 Mills Road
Houston, TX 77064