Case Studies

Knickerbocker Russell Co. Inc.

Equipment sales and support in Pittsburgh

From Wacker Neuson products to Edco floor equipment and extensive lines from other major brands – such as Multiquip, Husqvarna, IHI, Efficiency, Bomag, Edco, Gorman-Rupp, Bandit, Atlas Copco, Topcon, Spectra and Tsurumi Pump among others – Knickerbocker Russell Co. Inc. (Knickerbocker) continues to lead the country in equipment sales and support. Customers can rent, lease or buy everything from air blowers to sandblasting equipment, excavators, material handlers, scissor lifts, safety equipment and on from the true one-stop shop.

Today, Knickerbocker serves a 120-mile radius of the company’s warehouse line on Campbell’s Run Road in Pittsburgh, Pa., with several fenced in yards and four buildings dedicated to stocking inventory, such as large and small equipment and tools, job site supplies, construction materials, portable heat and much more. The company has a fifth building for parts, rental equipment, a show room and for the Knickerbocker office staff, as well as a fully-loaded service center, which launched in late 2012.

Going steady

“We’ve been steadily growing throughout the entire recession,” reveals Sam Eaton, vice president and general manager of Knickerbocker. “Business has been excellent. While other companies downsized we stocked up and we had the products when the demand came back and it’s allowed us to expand our market share.”

Eaton says Knickerbocker is adding new equipment product lines all the time. “We have a huge variety and we stock all of our products here, in-house so that customers seldom have to wait for an order,” he adds. “We select equipment and products carefully and stock what the customer wants. If the demand calls for it, we’ll have it.”

“We communicate several times a day with our sales people and employees, who are the best source of information working directly with customers,” explains Eaton. “They’re the ones who identified the material market as a natural extension of Knickerbocker’s core capabilities.”

While Knickerbocker’s equipment division continues to grow, its materials division now makes up approximately 20 percent of the company’s sales. The company focuses on a limited niche of building materials and specialty items, including products such as grout, specialized concrete performance coatings, waterproofing supplies, caulking, drainage accessories and geotextiles, among others. Knickerbocker only represents items from leading manufacturers such as BASF, ChemMasters, Ardex, Diedrich and ACO, giving customers total confidence in quality.

People at the core

Eaton says it takes a talented team to support the large variety of construction equipment and materials Knickerbocker has on hand. Currently, Knickerbocker employs 49 individuals who are more than salespeople and deliverymen; each is well-versed in the use of every Knickerbocker item and the construction industry as a whole.

Since Knickerbocker’s founding in 1958, people have made the difference. “We have an exceptional sales team, both inside sales and outside sales led by Tim Ellison, our sales manager,” shares Eaton. “They have continued to grow our sales at a steady pace over the past several years. This growth has created a very busy atmosphere for the rest of Knickerbocker’s departments from parts to warehousing, office staff and service.”

“The Knickerbocker employees make up a great team; they are versatile and can handle any project no matter the difficulty,” continues Eaton. “We’ve been blessed with some of the industry’s best people all in one location.”

And that’s the way Russell “Russ” Keith, founder of Knickerbocker, would have liked to see things pan out. Even though Keith has since retired from active management he left a core group to carry on his legacy of hard work and total client support.

Knickerbocker’s staff includes a number of longtime employees, many of who have proudly been with the company for 25 or more years. The team’s experience allows Knickerbocker to retain a close-knit working environment and an ambitious outlook, which keeps the company’s Pennsylvania, Ohio and Western Virginia customers coming back.

A tenured team and trusted reputation kept Knickerbocker moving along through the recession. “We haven’t had a down year at all, in fact, we’ve grown every year for 20 or more years,” reveals Eaton. “Other companies ordered less and closed down satellite stores and cut back on employees. When the demand came back they couldn’t meet it – so guess who got it.”

Eaton says the steady growth has made Knickerbockers real challenge space. “We’re in an industrial area in a small pocket; keeping enough product in stock is a challenge,” he says. “We’ve changed our inventory and reorganized, putting in more shelving and racks so we can meet the demand for our sales people.”

At the end of the day, Eaton says it’s all thanks to core group of quality people. “Our team is unlike any other,” he assures. These people have allowed Knickerbocker Russell Co. Inc. to go strong and steady for nearly 60 years.

Published on: November 7, 2014



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