Last updated on May 14th, 2019 at 08:41 am
Terry Dolan has spent three decades working in the equipment industry, primarily with larger manufacturers. When he started talking with Richfield-based Custom Equipment LLC, he saw a smaller business with great products that filled a niche in the market.
“What I saw was they needed some more strategic direction and needed just to continue to energize this business to really meet more aggressive growth targets,” Dolan said.
Dolan started Jan. 3 as president and chief executive officer of the company. Prior to joining the company, Dolan was president of the U.S. and Latin American markets for Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers. He also previously was executive vice president at Generac Power Systems and held positions with Case and Ingersoll Rand.
Steve Ellis, chairman of Custom Equipment, said Dolan’s background is a perfect fit for the company.
“He has a strong proven background in construction equipment and channel development and has extensive knowledge of the rental industry both in North American and internationally,” Ellis said.
Custom Equipment makes the Hy-Brid brand of scissor lifts used primarily by trades in the construction industry for working up to 22 feet in the air on job sites. The Michigan-based private equity firm Stratford-Cambridge Group acquired the company in late 2017.
Dolan’s first few months on the job have primarily been spent meeting with key customers and understanding how end-users work with the company’s lifts. Custom Equipment primarily sells to rental companies who in turn rent the lifts to contractors or tradespeople.
“We’re doing a lot right now on strategic planning to expand our channel, our paths to market,” Dolan said.
Specifically, he said the company would like to target other industries outside construction, including manufacturing, data centers or hospitals.
The challenge in reaching those markets comes from customers being aware of the brand and its potential as an alternative to using ladders, Dolan said.
Like many manufacturers in the region, the company is also dealing with the lack of available labor in a low unemployment environment. Dolan said the company has around 50 employees currently across facilities in West Bend and Richfield and has increased staffing by 20% to 25% already this year.
To find more help, Custom Equipment is working with GPS Education Partners to bring in high school students and partnering with a staffing firm and the Department of Corrections work release programs to hire people going through welding training programs.
Dolan said the company has also had to get creative, offering part-time and flexible shifts to people looking to pick up extra hours at a second job. Most of those hires have added to staffing on second shift or on the weekend, he said.
“They’re always with other people who are full-time members of the team, but it really has brought in some great talent for us,” Dolan said. “It was an interesting approach for our HR group to take a look at and for the management team, figuring out how to manage it.”