April 2004

Spring has sprung a leak. As I write this on March 22, it’s around 30 degrees outside with a pretty annoying wind of about 15 miles per hour. Of course, as soon as March 20 comes by, the “official” start of spring, I don’t expect it to suddenly be in the 60s with a warm breeze migrating here from the South, but these are January and February temps, so it’d be nice if they’d migrate north of here.

And on the final day of winter I had the opportunity to attend Pine Bush Equipment’s grand opening of its new facility in Holmes, NY, on Saturday, March 20. (See coverage of the event on page 58.) Their open house was really enjoyable and it was obvious that for the hundreds of attendees, the sentiments were the same. While there, I got to thinking that the heavy equipment dealer industry is virtually the last bastion of real, down-to-earth, “the customer is always right” philosophy in any business today.

The closest comparison one can make is to car dealerships, and while these have their merits when it comes to treating customers well, they don’t come close to iron dealerships. Pine Bush’s open house is far from the first event I’ve attended, but similar to all the others, this, too, was a family affair. Sales reps know their customers’ families and care about them; when they make a sale, the real work begins with keeping the customer happy. Car dealerships try to do this, but you still won’t see company employees talking with customers about their children’s recent graduation or baseball game the way you do at equipment dealers.

Sure, the argument can be made that heavy equipment is a major investment and there ought to be a lot of effort made to make the customer happy. But that’s just a superficial argument when you consider how much money we spend in a lifetime for things like cable TV or a mortgage on a house. I can’t recall ever feeling “loved” by representatives of those companies.

On to this month’s Profile … I hope you enjoy reading about Highway Superintendent James McGlynn and the Town of Bath’s highway department as much as we enjoyed telling his story. P

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