Larry Sibler: We entered the concrete equipment market two and a half years ago but started planning for it about four years ago. It took a year and a half to develop our strategy and product portfolio and to get our dealers and internal systems prepared. We wanted to make sure we could provide the same support for the new products that we have for our legacy products. To be successful entering a new space, both dealers and customers must feel as confident in your new products as they do in the equipment they have purchased from you in the past.
Russ Warner: We entered this market with a nice bundle—buggies, mixers, wet screeds, walk-behind trowels, internal vibrators, and walk-behind saws. We have not yet expanded beyond that because we came out with so many products, we wanted to first make sure our dealers were up-to-speed, had internal support, and were doing it right.
Larry Sibler: To train our customers we hold a series of boot camps around the country in different locations where we bring in dealer sales people, our own sales people, and customers for training on our products. This was a direct takeoff from the Ingersoll Rand Blaw-Knox Road Institute, which didn't teach people how to run our machines or fix them but rather taught them how to build a road. We've put that philosophy into Utility University where we teach them how to use concrete and how to pour concrete. Naturally we use our products in the demonstration.
Russ Warner: The philosophy for Utility University is to add value to make dealers experts. There is very little product training. We consider it more important for dealers to know the fundamentals, like what concrete is, what it's made of, what an F-number is. By giving them the foundation they become a knowledge base or a solution finder for the contractor. Anyone can sell iron—customers go back to the company that has knowledge.
Larry Sibler: Our philosophy is to ask how we can improve customer's productivity. How do we make them more productive in their jobs—better able to get their jobs completed on time without additional cost? If they are more productive with our products, we don't have to worry about price because they will see they can get the job done in a productive and timely manner. All equipment breaks, so the key is how quickly you can respond to the problem, cure the problem, and get them back to work. Our objective is to minimize downtime and improve productivity.
Russ Warner: We know concrete contractors don't do just one thing. They need a process not a single machine. They go from site prep to setting forms to compaction and even demolition. We find that we have more leverage by showing we have products for the whole industry. If a contractor wants one piece of equipment, that's fine. As we gain their trust, they will need more equipment and we can grow the relationship.
Larry Sibler: If we can develop the value proposition so the contractor is getting value for his money and technical support, aftermarket support, and minimizing down-time, then we will earn his business. We look at that as an opportunity. Give us a chance on one piece of equipment and we'll demonstrate our value proposition.
Russ Warner: Most innovations in this industry have come from contractors and the company that has the best relationship with the contractor will be in a position to develop the equipment.
Larry Sibler: What will drive the construction equipment industry in the future is telematics and remote diagnostics, particularly for contractors who have multiple pieces of equipment. It gives a contractor the ability to better manage his fleet and work closely with his support network, so that during the night, equipment is being maintained and in the morning it's up and running.
Larry Sibler: We don't enter any market casually. It takes too much time and energy to get into it. We come in with the attitude that we are going to be a player and we are going to develop the right portfolio. That's what we've done in the concrete industry.