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December 2017
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Santana Equipment celebrates 15 years
Eileen Schmidt
Eileen Schmidt

From a humble start in a suburban Chicago townhouse, Santana Equipment Trading Company has grown to where it now stands - poised to expand its North American reach. The international wholesaler and retailer of used material handling equipment was launched in the late 1990s by an owner set on starting his own company, according to the business website. Eric Davidson found he was “extremely hungry” to start an operation of his own after a few years of working in the business.

Davidson, a Southern Illinois University international marketing graduate, had worked for Flaska JCB at Forklift Exchange, Inc. and Atlas International Lift Trucks, Inc. before setting out to start Santana Equipment. A history of success in sales made Davidson confident he could succeed at building his own organization, according to the company's website.

Santana Equipment buys, sells and trades used wholesale and retail equipment across North America. Now with two locations – headquarters in the Chicago area and a Phoenix location that makes up the “west division” of the operation – Santana Equipment is poised to meet a goal of an expanding throughout the U.S. in the next few years.

It is a far cry from when Davidson began the operation in Chicago. He was a newlywed with a baby on the way, but set to work learning nuances of finance, wholesale, retail, marketing, warehousing and international markets. Eventually, Santana Equipment had established its footing and was sustaining a growth rate of around 20 percent a year. By 2002, the time was right for Davidson to purchase office and warehouse space, so he moved the business and hired five employees. By 2005, that number had doubled.

The company has weathered various economic downturns in its history, including the recession of 2008. But this year, the company marks its 15th anniversary. “It is very exciting,” said Davidson, in a press release issued in June, the anniversary month. He noted the expansion from a “small townhouse” to maintaining two fully-staffed offices and warehouses in Phoenix and Gurnee, Ill. “We are very grateful for the customers that have helped get us here, and are hoping to continue expansion to better serve their needs in the future,” Davidson said.

In addition to physical expansion, the company's leaders have worked to grow Santana Equipment's online presence. The company completed a social media marketing and re-branding program in 2013 that the business leaders said was key to propelling the overall expansion. The effort, incorporating Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus and LinkedIn, was so successful, Santana urged others in the business make similar efforts.

“In an industry that is typically slow to adopt technological change, Santana Equipment Trading Company's fast-found success in social media marketing suggests opportunities for others to follow suit," a statement from Davidson said.

He added that the networking sites have allowed Santana to broadcast its services and products, as well as the company culture. All of which has helped Santana Equipment's relationships with current customers and in efforts to draw in new business, according to Davidson. 

On the company's site, Davidson notes that the building, launch and growth of Santana Equipment over the past 15 years has been “the joy of my life, along with my wife and two children, who have grown along with the company.”

Eileen Schmidt is a freelance writer and journalist based in the Greater Milwaukee area. She has written for print and online publications for the past 12 years. Email or visit to contact Eileen.