Tom Hammel 2017-12-09 03:35:28
AT McCANN INDUSTRIES, EVERYTHING IS ABOUT THE CUSTOMER Conventional industry wisdom holds that big iron and small tools mix about as well as oil and water from a sales standpoint. More than one national equipment rental chain has tried — and failed — to incorporate small-dollar, high-inventory consumable sales into its high-dollar, low-inventory big iron model, but an entrepreneur will always find a way. Based in Addison, Illinois, McCann Construction Specialties Co. began life in 1967 as a traditional family-owned distributorship focused on Chicagoland residential and light commercial concrete contractors. Founder Richard McCann also focused on light equipment, which led him to an opportunity in 1995 to purchase three Case factory-direct equipment dealerships. These Case stores became a new business called McCann Power & Equipment, which ran separately from the supply business until 2000 when the separate entities were merged under the umbrella of McCann Industries. “Today, we run seven locations around metro Chicagoland,” explains Richard’s son, Jim McCann, who became president and CEO of the company in 2013. “Three of our locations are primarily focused on the heavy equipment side of the business, mainly working with the Case construction equipment brand and sales, product support, service, repairs and rentals of those of products. “Five of our locations are fully focused on construction supply, but one of our facilities does both — we service both aspects of the business in our Bolingbrook store.” As the only true hybrid store in the company at present, the Bolingbrook branch serves as something of a working laboratory for cross merchandising to two “mutually exclusive” market segments. As such, it presents McCann with a great opportunity to fine-tune its hybrid model for potential roll-out to other existing and future branches. However, the Bolingbrook store also brings into sharp relief a perpetual thorn in the side of any company that tries to merge the two worlds: mutually exclusive software needs and systems. “When we first merged the businesses together, we ran a parallel operating system alongside wholesale distribution software for a couple of years and it was an absolute nightmare. Now we have found a solution that will cover sales, rental, maintenance, repair — all of it. The vendor is CDK Global and we hope to be live on that system by August 2018.” McCann is excited about the changeover because he sees it presenting the company with major benefits and opportunities. “It’s a very strong and user-friendly system on the equipment dealership side, and we are working with them to enhance the system for the wholesale distribution side of our business, which will present some opportunities for us.” The software component is one piece of the puzzle in integrating the two sides of McCann’s consolidated business. McCann is fortunate to have a strong brand in Chicagoland even though some heavy equipment customers are still surprised to learn the company also handles an extensive range of traditional “STAFDAtype” products such as adhesives, power tools and hand tools. The Bolingbrook store is a foray into changing that perception across McCann’s market area and into educating each group of customers about the sum of McCann’s offerings. So far, so good. “We may look or feel a little bit unique in the wholesale business because we’re involved in heavy machinery too, but to our ‘STAFDA’ customers, it’s not a big deal,” McCann says. That said, McCann is firm in his expectation that any system — software or not — work in harmony with his company’s “customer-centric” philosophy and culture. “We try to preach and promote the customer-centric aspects of what we do,” he explains. “We think we have a pretty solid plan with our sales and marketing approach with employees who are experts in either side of the business. But as we wrestle with the real meaning of running this distribution business on the new software platform, we’re forcing ourselves to look at our processes and see what we really need. “Again, from a customer-centric standpoint, what’s going to add value? Why are we doing these processes? Do we need them? We’re only going to run this business on one operating system — that’s rule number one — and we’re going to find a way to make it work.” Damian Allen, McCann’s supply sales manager, expresses the company’s customer-centric vision more directly. “It’s all about service,” Allen states. “The number one thing that is going to separate us from anybody else — whether our competitors are other brick and mortar stores or online — is our people, our service and our expertise.” This customer-centric culture is vitally important today in the face of Amazon and other web-based competitors. Numerous cogs mesh in the McCann service package. As might be expected, the heavy equipment side of the business offers rental services, but uncharacteristically, mainly in cases of rent-to-own or short-term rentals to good customers. “Rental is a means to help us promote product sales,” McCann summarizes. “We view rental from a customer-centric standpoint, too. If the customer prefers to rent, we will do that. If they prefer to buy, we will sell to them, and if they prefer to acquire their equipment though an RPO rental purchase option, we can do that with them too.” However, going to market with hundred-thousand dollar machines also requires financing, which requires specialized staff. “We do a lot financial solutions work for our customers,” McCann explains. “We work with CNH Industrial Capital, which finances Case equipment, to facilitate equipment acquisition financing and insuring, and we have a full-time finance and insurance manager who makes it easy for customers to purchase.” McCann’s equipment business includes repair and maintenance, but it also goes beyond that. McCann’s extensive heavy and small equipment service and repair expertise and staff of technicians enables the company to offer repair services on any brand of machine, not just line-card brands. Another benefit is equipment prep. ““We won’t sell you anything in a box,” Allen states. “Every piece of equipment you buy from us is prepped and job-site-ready when we deliver it. Anything with an engine has fuel, oil, and a fresh blade if needed. It’s not coming to you in a crate.” This strict prep-before-delivery policy also sets McCann apart from some of its local competitors. “Some of our competitors don’t have the mechanics to do all this,” Allen notes. “Trying to prep a piece of equipment in the field is asking for trouble. If there’s an issue with a machine, we can catch it right here before it ever walks out the door.” McCann’s other services include rebar fabrication, concrete form sales and rental, project takeoffs, 24-hour emergency field repair, equipment preventative maintenance packages, oil and wear analysis, field service, rebar estimating, detailing, fabrication and, of course, training. McCann also employs several technical sales reps who focus on takeoffs, layouts and related supplies for the hand-set concrete forming part of the business. This past year McCann also hired its first product support sales specialist. Andrew Summers pursues sales opportunities that arise after the initial equipment sale, such as warranties, repair contracts, parts, GPS systems and telematics machine control systems. With such an extensive menu of services, McCann is confident that it has tools to counteract the “Amazon effect” in the industry. “The Amazon effect is for real,” McCann says. “Millennials coming into the workforce and their shopping preferences as consumers are real, and that’s going to continue to change our industry as distributors. But I also know that distributors are pretty self-reliant and very adaptable. “We are approaching those challenges the same way. A cornerstone of our focus is to embrace the change that we see coming down the line, and that culture in this business is vitally important. Our culture and our brand is very important to our business.” As an employer in a changing market, Jim McCann is keenly aware of the need to attract new generations of employees to the industry and to adapt the business to how the new generations of customers prefer to do business. “Our ability to attract and develop employees is vitally important to us. We’re committed to staying openminded to the ideas of the generations entering the workforce because they’re the ones who will help us create the innovation that we need to maintain the business. “The historical model of wholesale distribution, as we all know it, is somewhat under siege. You buy products on your cell phone throughout the day, so there’s every reason to believe that construction supply products can and will be bought the same way.” “Amazon is a presence and they’re not going away, but customer service is the night and day difference,” Allen adds. “I had an experience with Amazon today. I spent an hour and a half on it and it’s still unresolved. They say they’ll contact me in two or four days. You’re never going to have those types of situations with McCann industries — we’re going to resolve that situation for you today. “We have real people on the phone and we’ll bring you resolution right now. What will continue to make McCann Industries successful is customer service — our dedication to the customer and making sure that their needs are met.” As he looks ahead at where the next generations of employees, customers and technologies will take the industry, Jim McCann can also look back with some satisfaction at the success his family company has enjoyed so far. In 2017, McCann Industries celebrated 50 years in business and is currently planning to open a new branch next year in South Bend, Indiana. “We need to stay open minded to the innovation that it’s going to take to stay relevant,” he says. “We have a high level of respect for the work ethic it took to get our business where it is today. A lot of the things I was taught as I grew up in this business — keep your head down and shovel; the harder you work, the luckier you get — have served us well and will continue to serve us well, but those things need to be tempered with a healthy dose of reality to embrace the new generation that’s coming into our industry.” McCANN INDUSTRIES AT A GLANCE FOUNDED: 1967 OWNERSHIP: Privately held HEADQUARTERS: Addison, Illinois BRANCHES: Addison, Bolingbrook, Chicago, Crestwood, McHenry and Wauconda, Illinois; Schererville, Indiana FACILITY: Addison: 60,000 square feet on seven acres (owned) STAFF: 100 companywide; 16 outside sales MARKETS: Concrete construction, restoration and waterproofing, road and bridge, underground utility, water and sewer, municipal and landscapers LINE CARD ADVERTISERS IN THIS ISSUE: Locate these advertisers using the advertiser index on page 8. LINE CARD: ADA Solutions, Albion, Allen Engineering, Ames, Bon Tool, Bowman Kemp, Bradco, Butterfield Color, Carlson, Case, Chapin, CH Hanson, Dayton Superior, DeWalt, Eagle Mfg., EDCO, Euclid, E-Z Drill, Furukawa Rock Drill, Gar-Bro, Gator Tools, Havila, Honda, Husqvarna, Hydrozo, ICS, Igloo, Imer USA, Jackson, Keson, Klein Tools, Kraft Tool, Leica, Lura Enterprises, MacLean, Magnolia Brush, Mar-Mac, Marshalltown, MAX USA, Mazel MultiVibe, Owens Corning, Prosoco, Powers Fasteners, Road Hog, Sika, Spectra Precision, Stego Industries, Sterling/Metalforms, Stabila, Stihl, Sullair, Symons, Takeuchi, Tremco, Wacker Neuson, W.R. Meadows, Wyco AFFILIATIONS: STAFDA, ACDI, AED, American Public Works Association, Concrete Contractors Association of Greater Chicago, Illinois Road & Transportation Builders Association, Illinois Landscape Contractors Association, Lake County Contractors Association, Underground Contractors Association of Illinois WEBSITE: www.McCannOnline.com
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