Continued Growth and Success

A&H Equipment Co.
Written by Claire Suttles

A&H Equipment Co. is a market-leading distributor of environmental and municipal product solutions, from street sweepers and sewer cleaners to snow removal trucks. The company operates throughout Pennsylvania and West Virginia. After reporting on the company’s latest developments in 2022, Construction in Focus sat back down with the team to hear this year’s news.

The first thing we wanted to know is how the business continues to stay on top in the face of industry challenges. “I think service is key, and that’s not just service from the standpoint of fixing the truck or supplying parts or whatever it may be; it’s servicing that client,” says President Jason Kelley. “Maybe they need a short-term rental to get them through, or they need [a part] delivered. Even though we don’t have a formalized delivery process, we will do that.”

This willingness to meet customers’ needs has kept the company in business since 1963. “Be it sales or another facet of the business, it just all comes down to customer service,” Kelley summarizes.

A positive work environment supports the team members as they support customers. “There’s always support,” says Marketing Manager Melissa Weber, “and if you have new ideas to bring customers into A&H, [leadership] always fully supports your ideas or ways to make the company better. In general, A&H is a very team-oriented environment. We all work hand-in-hand with each other, which is why I think we have success with customer satisfaction and relationship building with our clients.”

Another key to success has been the company’s focus on equipment rentals, which has been mutually advantageous for the business and the customer. With today’s sky-high prices, buying equipment does not always make sense, so the company’s rental division provides a cost-saving alternative.

“It’s so popular because the price of this equipment today is significantly higher than it was a few years back,” Kelley says. “So a lot of our customers do not have the capital to make that investment right out of the gate. They would rather rent the unit as an operating expense for a period of time before they make that commitment.”

Because the company boasts an up-to-date fleet of rental equipment, customers can take advantage of the latest, most reliable models at a reasonable price. “Most of our equipment is two to three years old, if not newer, and that leads to less downtime for the customer, which helps because downtime costs money,” says Director of Rentals and Sales Operations Jon Neutzel.

The company’s flexibility is another important factor in the ongoing success of its rental division. The team will “work with our customers within their schedule,” he explains. The team also makes it a priority to “have open communication with all our customers as to our availability, our timeline, [our ability] to fit within their window… We’re very upfront about our schedule, and we’re very open to working with the customer.”

The team works hard to “be open and set the expectations for customers; we walk through our processes for getting rentals out and make it very easy in terms of what we require from the customer,” Neutzel continues. “We can tell them what we need… and they come to pick up the unit, and it’s a very quick transition to [get them] back out on the road.” A&H extends customer support by providing all its customers with proper training of the unit. This keeps their crews safe and provides support to efficiently complete their job correctly and on time.

Communication continues after the transaction is completed. “Once they get the equipment returned, we do also send out satisfaction surveys [about] the experience that they had with us,” Weber says. “I feel like [this] sets us apart from other competitors because we take that extra step for our customers.” The team also encourages customers to post reviews online.

This emphasis on communication is also present within the company, not just between the team and their customers. “We have to work hand-in-hand with our parts department and our service departments to keep these units up and running for customers,” Neutzel says.

Another development within the company has been a leadership transition, with Jason Kelley recently moving into the position of President. The promotion comes after many years of working for the company and was a natural next step. “I’ve been [here] 15 years now,” he says. “I came in as management, so the transition started a long time ago. The day-to-day operations—I’ve been running much of the business for a long period of time. So it’s not an immediate [change]. It hasn’t happened overnight.”

Despite the leadership transition, the team will continue to focus on what has long been important to the company. “We’re focused on growth,” he says. “We’re focused on opportunity, getting the right personnel in place, and overall customer support; A&H has always had that. They were always for the customer, always here for the customer… because that’s all we have as a distributor. We’re not manufacturing anything. All we have is our customer base. We continue to emphasize that fact and grow our business off of it.”

With such a strong track record, the future looks bright for A&H Equipment Co. When it comes to future expansion, there will be a particular focus on expanding the rental division, which will in turn drive the company’s overall growth. “Rental allows us to rent to other dealerships, rent to customers outside of our coverage area,” Kelley points out. “We can always expand into different markets, different AR, different territory, different product lines,” he continues. “We always look to expand that portion of our business.”

Growing the rental fleet has not always been easy, especially when dealing with post-COVID supply chain issues, but it is important not only for the company’s growth but for customer satisfaction as well. “Securing units has been a struggle the last few years but we’re starting to see a little bit more of a flow,” says Neutzel. “So we hope to continue to add, just so we can have more units available for customers.”

The company has already expanded its sweeper fleet considerably. Just last year, it rented around half a dozen units, and this year, that number has doubled to over 12 units.

As the company grows, the team wants to stay grounded and maintain a safe, steady pace. “Our goal is to continue to look at what’s available and not get crazy with it,” Kelley says. “From a growth standpoint, you’ve got to be pretty precise on what you’re focused on because we are in a small, niche market. So you’ve just got to make sure you’re making the right decision when you expand—if that’s a new product or a new territory.”

Having a strong team already in place will be key. “It comes down to having the right people when you make the move to grow,” he says, “because if you’re not set up, you’re putting more burden on the current staff,” and risking under-delivering. However, with its customer service such a strong pillar of the company, this team is not going to let that happen. Instead, as it forges ahead, A&H Equipment Co. is determined to keep the strategies in place that have brought it success thus far, including that foundational commitment to the customer.

With their priorities clearly defined, the team is well prepared to take the company to the next level of growth and beyond.

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