ECCO Equipment Corporation
After growing a successful general contracting business called Engineered Construction Company (ECCO). Don Schmid found that a great way to create additional income for the company was to rent the equipment it owned while it sat idle. In 1972, Schmid split his company and ECCO Equipment Corporation was formed. Headquartered in Santa Ana, California, ECCO specializes in heavy equipment and sales for the construction and mining industries and currently has 15 locations throughout the United States and Canada.
After serving in the Korean War, Schmid began a career in Civil Engineering for the Los Angeles County Sanitation District. His immediate supervisor was a man named Lester Haug who had joined the county as a project engineer after his discharge from the Army Corps of Engineers following World War II. The two discovered that they made a great team and when Schmid decided to go into business for himself, he asked Lester to be his silent partner. With $5,000 the pair formed a partnership as a general contracting firm.
The company specialized in reservoirs, flood control and bridge projects, successfully underbidding the competition while maintaining significant profits. Despite the company’s success, Schmid found that there were still times when ECCO’s equipment and its operators were not as busy he would like them to be. When crane operator Harry Proctor suggested renting himself and a surplus crane to another contractor, Schmid saw an opportunity. The company began a pattern of buying and renting until it possessed a significant fleet and ECCO Equipment Corporation was born.
The next generation
Schmid’s son David began working for the company in 1993 and is the current president of the company. After graduating from Stanford University, David did not immediately enter the family business. “After college I decided to try working for a few other places to gain some experience outside of my father’s business,” recalls David. “At age 29 I came to work for my dad.”
As a family-owned business, ECCO applies a family atmosphere to its approach with employees as well as clients. “A lot of our clients are small, family-owned businesses themselves and they like to be treated that way,” David explains. “We try to be local in all of our markets. We have late-model equipment from all the best brands and it’s very reliable.” In the rare case that there ever is a problem with any equipment, ECCO has highly-qualified technicians on standby to report to the site within the hour, to diagnose and fix any problem with minimal lost time to the jobsite.
Establishing long-term relationships
The success that ECCO experiences year in and year out is largely due to the integrity with which the company operates. “We’ve been in business long enough that we don’t focus on making a quick buck,” says David. “We are more concerned with establishing a long-term relationship with a customer and gaining their loyalty.”
While ECCO maintains relationships with numerous small businesses, the company is also well established and able to supply equipment for the larger size firms as well. ECCO possesses more than 550 pieces of equipment in its rental fleet. “We supply to earth moving contractors and government agencies of all sizes that need dirt moved,” says David. “Our customers are involved in site development, road building and maintenance, pipelines, water management and energy development. Our 15 locations allow us to serve virtually the entire western US and Canada. We’re very diversified.”
Service with a purpose
While measuring the bottom line at the end of the day gauges the level of success for a business, ECCO has always looked deeper into its mission. “We’re in business to make money so we do have to use that as a performance indicator,” says David. “Ultimately though we are creating a work environment where employees can support their families and feel like they are a part of a family atmosphere. We’re always thinking long-term, whether it’s with customers or employees.”
According to David, the employees of ECCO are the primary reason for the success of the company. “Our employees give me the biggest sense of pride about this company,” says David. “We have a great crew and they are so loyal. The fact that they enjoy coming to work every day makes me feel good and I don’t ever want to let them down. I want to provide a great place for them to grow professionally and personally and provide a healthy company so they can work for us for the rest of their careers.”
For ECCO, the near future holds significant growth in the multiple markets where the company has already established itself. “Our geographic footprint is already quite large. Our goal now is to do a better job where we already are,” says David. “We see demand increasing and we want to continue to provide the best service possible to our customers and we’re adding inventory and hiring people to help us do just that.”
As the company continues to strengthen its market share, ECCO Equipment Corporation will continue to set the standard in customer service for equipment sales and rentals.
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