Most contractors know the importance of good service and maintenance to keep their equipment available and productive. But as equipment outlets and suppliers consolidate their operations, reducing service and limiting their parts inventories, many contractors are finding it more difficult to get parts and warranty service. In a dozen major metropolitan areas—with more soon to come—contractors can now use Equipro to help meet those needs.

The company was formed in 2003, as a subsidiary of Wacker Corporation, to provide fast, high-quality local service for light construction equipment. It operates through a nationwide chain of independently owned and operated service centers. The local onsite representatives, the Metro Service Specialists (MSS), are actually Equipro employees who can offer preventative maintenance recommendations at the jobsite while also identifying service needs that Equipro can help meet.

Dan Bennett, the company's operations manager, says that although Equipro was formed only two years ago, the concept evolved over the past several years he spent at Wacker in product support. “We were continually looking for independent service dealers who could fill the service gap where it was needed,” Bennett said. “But it just wasn't getting to the level we wanted.”

Equipro's Metro Service Specialists receive factory training from all the alliance partners so they are familiar with the complete range of equipment the company services.
Equipro's Metro Service Specialists receive factory training from all the alliance partners so they are familiar with the complete range of equipment the company services.

Although Bennett could see the growing demand for service, he also knew the company would have to support more than a single line of products if a separate service company were to be a viable business venture. Today the company's alliance OEM partners include Wacker (for its full product line—from vibrators to light towers), Sullair (tow-behind compressors and air tools), ICS (hydraulic and gas concrete chain saws), MK Diamond (concrete and tile cutting and grinding) and Mi-T-M (pressure washers and portable air compressors). Taking advantage of the commonality of gas engines in that mix, Equipro's engine manufacturing partners include Briggs & Stratton, Honda, Kohler, Robin Subaru, and Wacker.

Through his previous efforts to build a service dealer network, Bennett knew that good service people weren't always good at business. “We realized very early that if we were going to be successful in the service business, we were going to have to be very efficient,” Bennett says. To that end the company developed specialized business systems that are shared with all franchisees to help them run their parts and repair operations while also integrating inventory and logistics.

Marketing was another area where the franchises often need additional support. The Metro Service Specialist became a key element of the plan. Besides receiving factory training from the various manufacturers, the specialist also acts as the local service center's sales and marketing representative.

The MSS's primary mission is to make sure that equipment buyers and owners are satisfied with the products and the service they are receiving and to learn from contractors what equipment and service they need. For unmet needs, Equipro can often help fill the gap. Even where all is well on the service front, the company becomes a good backup for local dealers.

At first, Bennett says, there was some concern that local equipment dealers and distributors might consider an Equipro service center as competition. “It turns out distributors are using Equipro more and more, especially for warranty service,” he says. “They also are learning that they can come to us when their own shops are overextended and for certain types of products that take more time or are more difficult to service.”

Other equipment owners, such as utilities and public works departments, are also finding the Equipro MSS to be a good resource. Rental houses, too, have discovered this as a way to get timely maintenance and quick repairs that might otherwise sideline a piece of equipment, making it unavailable for rental.

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