A&H Equipment’s Golden Rule

A&H EquipmentUsing the golden rule has been the Midas touch that has made A&H Equipment so successful.

When current owner Tripp Amick’s dad partnered with Roy Holsinger to form the company in 1963, their business philosophy was to simply treat their customers the way they wanted to be treated. At the time, A&H was a regional distributor for Elgin sweepers and a refuse packer line.

“People buy from us because we are going to do whatever it takes to get them up and running when that equipment breaks down,” says Amick. “My dad’s philosophy was that if we take care of our customers, then they will take care of us.”

According to Amick, that is certainly the case. Despite the economic downturn, A&H Equipment has done very well in these tough times.

After Holsinger passed away in 1968, A&H passed to the Amick family. By then, the company’s product lines had increased to provide sewer cleaners, leaf machines and snow removal equipment.

Since then, A&H has grown to three locations and 23 employees. They are distributors of a wide variety of high-quality upper-tier lines, such as Elgin sweepers, A&H Bodies, and Warner, as well as top lines in sewer maintenance, snow and ice control, airport products, and refuse and recycling.

“Our suppliers have the same philosophy of taking care of their customers that we do,” said Amick. “If you have a manufacturer that doesn’t have that same philosophy, then you can find yourself between a rock and a hard place with your customers.”

“By expanding our product lines, we can spread the cost of that customer service over several budgets,” said Amick. As their overriding principle, doing the right thing for the customer is why they have such tremendous customer loyalty. The bulk of their customers include municipalities, authorities, boroughs, and townships as well as city and state governments. Industrial contractors, landscape contractors, and sweeper contractors make up the remaining 20 percent.

Their business philosophy may be one reason that A&H has won so many awards, such as regional awards from Elgin and Vactor, Envirosight’s dealer of the year and national awards from various manufacturers.

Recently, A&H teamed up with Elgin to provide the Pocono Speedway with a specifically designed Crosswind Sweeper for NASCAR races. It was used for both races and is booked for 2012 as well. NASCAR was so impressed that they awarded Elgin the “Track Innovation Services Award.” The award is “presented annually to the individual or group that displays the ability to create or adapt tools, processes or solutions which address a problem or concern shared by multiple tracks. This year’s Track Services Innovation Award went to Elgin “for the development of the Track Sweeper, designed specifically for racetracks, which is the only sweeper equipped with a blower to remove debris from the racing surface.”

However, Amick admits that not every customer is happy. Some customers remain silently disgruntled. “Sometimes, you don’t know that a customer is unhappy until they don’t pay their bill,” says Amick. “But those that give us the opportunity to fix a problem, end up happy.”

Even though A&H is already known for their customer service, they persist in their search for new ways to keep customers happy. That is why the company is taking steps to reach out to their customers to make sure they don’t have anyone that is silently disgruntled. “It all boils down to communication,” said Amick. “In my experience, almost every problem you have within a company, or with customers or suppliers has come down to a failure to communicate or a simple miscommunication. People are just people and they make mistakes. I may say one thing and you may interpret it another way.”

A&H continues on its quest for growth, both geographically and monetarily. “We want to stick to our core customers and markets, but we are on the prowl for new products and expanding our geographical footprint, while maintaining our business philosophy.”

Speaking of new products, he says there has also been an increase in interest for alternative fuel sweepers. “There are grants available for customers to purchase greener products. Right now, Elgin is on top of the green movement to support that demand. They make a wide variety of products that run on alternative fuel and fuel-efficient models. They also make several sweepers that filter particulate matter down to PM 2.5 reducing the amount and size that escape into the atmosphere.”

As far as the future of the industry is concerned, Amick says that there will continue to be fewer and fewer large distributors, because of consolidation, which is being driven by lower overall profit margins. Those distributors will need to have a larger geographic footprint and focus on those markets that are important to the company. “As with all successful small businesses, you have to look long-term and make decisions based on maintaining a good reputation and credibility,” he said.

With that commitment to service, it’s no wonder that as they approach their 50-year anniversary, it will indeed be a golden one.

For more information on A&H Equipment, log on to http://www.ahequipment.com/ or call 1-800-753-7566.

Story by Jennifer Taylor