Service Above All

Construction Equipment Co. (Sault) Inc.
Written by Jessica Ferlaino

For over 56 years, Construction Equipment Co. (Sault) Inc. has served everyone from homeowners to contractors and major corporations in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario and surrounding areas with new, used, and rental equipment, parts, and service.

From lawn and garden to heavy equipment and the unmatched support of its expert service technicians and parts, rentals, and sales teams, Construction Equipment Co. (Sault) Inc. brings the very best to its customers big and small. In the community it calls home, the company brings a standard of service that has gained the respect and patronage of people near and far.

A tradition of service
Construction Equipment Co. (Sault) Inc. has come a long way since its founding, but its definitive period of growth has come under the leadership of President and Owner Dan Valiquette, who has breathed new life and purpose into the operation over the last 15-plus years.

For much of the company’s history, it supplied compressors and other equipment to the local steel plant, but the decision was made to expand its offerings to include a single manlift, which was a bold move considering this equipment was not the industry standard at the time. Luckily, the investment was met with success.

What started with one manlift in the 1980s soon grew to a fleet of 10, and rocketed to 110 under the new ownership. In achieving this, Construction Equipment Co. (Sault) Inc. became the go-to place for parts, equipment, and service. Now, with over 8,000 products from leading brands such as Ariens, Baumalight, Bercomac, Castle Forklifts, Genie®, Husqvarna®, Hyundai, JLG, LS Tractor, MK Martin, Skyjack™, Snorkel, Stihl®, TimberPro, Wacker Neuson, Walker Mowers, and Wallenstein to choose from, the company has the equipment and expertise to support almost any project, from small home repairs to major construction, forestry, and mining projects.

“We do all of it—the servicing, selling, and renting of it. If it’s not working, we’ll fix it. We’ll come and pick it up for you. We’ll drop it off. It’s all about the full circle customer service,” says Danielle Loucks, Accounting Administrator and Media Coordinator.

Customer service, without a doubt, is the company’s key offering. From inquiry to final sale and everything in between, the team goes to great lengths to satisfy every customer no matter what their need. “We do our best to help the customer, whether it’s advice, education of our products, or a little bit of research to answer a question,” says Sales Consultant Christopher Maltais.

This standard of care holds equally true for the customer with a query, the rental customer, the customer buying a two-dollar part, or the customer making a major equipment purchase. Service is service, and for Construction Equipment Co. (Sault) Inc., exceptional service is simply the standard.

“Whether buying or renting, we try to go through each machine as it leaves our door to educate the customer. They’re going to understand better and they’re going to have a better experience with either their rental or their new purchase,” explains Maltais.

When a sale is made, he notes, “we get it all ready. We put it together for you. We register for your warranty. We run it to test it out so that when you come here and pick it up and bring it home, it’s 100 percent ready to go. You don’t have to worry about getting online to register it for your warranty and if you do have an issue, you bring it back here and we take care of the warranty issue.”

Managing growth
This elevated service delivery paired with the right market conditions, as well as the ability to pivot quickly during the pandemic, is why, over the last few years, the company has experienced historic rates of growth.

As a company that prides itself on a job well done, during the pandemic it was forced to quickly adapt its operations to ensure it remained operational without sacrificing service quality. “We learned how to adapt to that, from keeping waiting lists for when product did come in to, when you couldn’t enter the stores, having a table outside. We would go outside to customers to bring them their parts,” says Maltais.

At one point, there was a long waitlist for a chainsaw. It seemed like everyone was a homeowner with a project during the pandemic. However, on top of increased homeowner demand added to its regular demand, the company also saw growing demand from outside its traditional market bounds, which tripled its growth.

Maltais credits the connectivity of phones and the internet for this growth in reach. “At the beginning of COVID, people were calling from all over the place, and we realized, ‘wow, they’re a two-day drive away and they’re still calling us for equipment.’ So that has really opened up the market.”

The company’s market footprint might be bigger, but its commitment to providing exceptional service remains the same regardless of where a service call originates. The team at Construction Equipment Co. (Sault) Inc. makes it happen.

As Loucks says, “If we have rentals go out of town and there’s an issue, we send a service truck out to help them. In a lot of these places—a lot of the mines that are popping up—there’s nobody up there, so if they need help, we want to supply them with that service.”

A market ripe with potential
The tripling of its business during the pandemic was a memorable achievement for Construction Equipment Co. (Sault) Inc., but there are still other market opportunities that it can take advantage of to remain ahead.

The strength of the housing market in Sault Ste. Marie means that contractors big and small are driving demand for equipment. The city was one of several Northern Ontario cities that managed to exceed their targeted housing growth last year.

Likewise, one of the city’s largest employers and one of Construction Equipment’s longest-standing customers, Algoma Steel, is committing more than $700 million to transition to electric arc steelmaking, a more sustainable approach to manufacturing that represents the way of the future.

“Algoma Steel is switching over to a greener facility, so they’re switching everything over, including the equipment. Eventually, they want it to be completely green, so that’s something that’s been in the back of our minds,” says Loucks. “For example, they’re starting to use more battery-powered equipment to help them reach their goals. It’s nice to see them utilizing what we have to help them with that mission.”

Construction Equipment Co. (Sault) Inc. is aware that many organizations are aspiring to zero emissions, and its fleet of battery-powered equipment can support this transition away from fossil fuel-powered equipment.

In addition to the ever-expanding fleet of electric equipment offerings, technicians undergo skills upgrades and training to ensure they are up to date and prepared to help customers through industry changes as well. Change is hard, but with the support of Construction Equipment Co. (Sault) Inc., it doesn’t have to be.

As Loucks explains, “The area has become a place to go, a place to move to, and a place to stay, and it has really expanded on the construction side of the economy. There are a lot of startup businesses in not only construction but lawn care, snow removal, and many facets of what puts an economy together, and we’re very fortunate to have the equipment that those businesses need.”

Rooted in the community
The service and support offered by Construction Equipment Co. (Sault) Inc. doesn’t end with the provision of parts and equipment to customers; rather, the success of the company enables it to maximize its contributions to the greater community through outreach and advocacy work.

A big part of the culture at Construction Equipment Co. (Sault) Inc. is to give back to the community through philanthropic efforts which, Loucks notes, originates with Valiquette at the very top and trickles its way down through the company.

She says, “I highly respect the owner, Dan, and his wife. They are adamant that this is a family business, and it doesn’t just mean their family, it means our families; it’s family first. You’re proud to say that you work for him because of how he is not only in the workplace, but how he treats and helps others in the community as well.”

Examples of the community outreach efforts of the Valiquette family and the company include SkiAbility Algoma, which is an adaptive waterskiing program that provides persons with disabilities the opportunity to take part in this activity in a safe and fun environment.

“He fundraises for them; he provides his time, his boat, his machines. It’s such a fantastic feeling to watch them do that—you’re so proud of them that they donate so much of themselves to these different organizations and charities,” says Loucks.

Further, Construction Equipment Co. (Sault) Inc. supports the community through the donation of machines to Touch A Truck events, the Bon Soo community winter carnival, the Sault’s Christmas Parade, and sponsoring local sports teams. Through this philanthropic work, Construction Equipment Co. (Sault) Inc. has become a community within a community, ready and willing to support those who rely on it and to support each other in the process of facilitating growth and success.

Whether it is through parts, equipment, or outreach, Construction Equipment Co. (Sault) Inc. places service above all. This is clearly reflected in the consistent growth and the positive reputation of the company throughout its long and storied history, and the rich potential it still has in looking to the future.

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