The quarter century mark is a good time to look back at where you’ve been and ahead to where you’re going.
And to see what’s changed along the way.
“The biggest change has to be the equipment. When my dad started the business, the equipment was pretty simplistic. Anyone could work on it. Now you need a laptop and specific training to do anything,” said Brian Gretz, vice president of Trans-American Equipment, which is celebrating 25 years in business.
“The thing that has stayed the same is the people,” Brian said. “This industry has always been about relationships and how you treat people. That hasn’t changed.”
Those relationships are the bread and butter of business to Harry Gretz, who founded Trans-American Equipment 25 years ago with a partner that he bought out within the first nine months.
He has spent more than four decades in the material handling industry, starting the service department and working his way up to ownership of his own company.
“I know it’s a cliché, but I learned everything I know about this industry from my father,” Brian said. “From treating your employees with respect to making sure that any deal you do is fair for both the buyer and the seller, because without both, you won’t be in business for long.”
The respect for employees is returned in loyalty and longevity.
“We have had very few people ever quit. We pay well and we do a lot of little things from grilling lunch out about once a week to the fact that every holiday we have always put an extra $50 cash in everyone’s pay,” Brian said. “It might not sound like much, but it’s maybe a dinner out over a long weekend or gas money to be able to get away.
“We don’t pay commission so the salespeople work together because is the most important thing is selling, not who gets the sale. During the last couple years it hasn’t been easy, but we still do a good bit of laughing.”
The company has 19 employees in two branches; a 25,000 square foot warehouse in Matthews, N.C., and a facility in Hardeeville, S.C.
Trans-American is a wholesale forklift company with a large rental fleet.
“Anyone who has been in the industry for any amount of time knows Harry Gretz,” Brian said. “He has been a leader in this industry for a long time. Those are some big shoes to try and fill, but that being said, it is a lot of fun working with my dad.”
Looking ahead, Brian said, “After several down years, we are going to see several years of growth. I think we will continue to see more off brands entering the marketplace. The Chinese manufacturers are just starting to get a foothold in the U.S. and I expect them to continue to grow their market share.”
Mary Glindinning is a freelance writer who has worked at daily and weekly newspapers for more than 20 years. She lives in rural Shullsburg, Wis. You may contact her by e-mailing email@example.com.