Taking Over and Moving Up

Throughout high school, Justin Stockton worked for the Taylor family dealership. The business was small, so he received experience in a variety of areas, from cleaning the restrooms to serving customers at the sales counter.

Stockton eventually worked his way into the shop. When the business went up for sale in 2006, he felt vested—and was confident that buying it would prove to be a smart business decision. “The business had a well-established customer base and is centered in a growing community,” says Justin.

SUCCESS FROM THE START

Since purchasing Stockton Power Equipment in Sheridan, AR, Justin and wife Stacy have added 2,400 square feet of warehouse storage, along with two acres of highway frontage. The property next door, which was once a rundown gas station and carwash, has been converted into storage space, as well as a large outdoor display area. Other business investments have included a Franzen Automatic Chain Sharpener, Stihl displays, new lighting and a line of rental equipment.

Along the way, the Stocktons have had to work through some tough spots they didn’t have experience with. Their patience, drive and perseverance has helped them through.

“Lacking experience in business management, I was forced to learn the critical features of inventory control and ordering in a very short amount of time,” says Justin. “Luckily the business immediately fell into a growing mode that has not let up through this major recession that we have experienced. We have been fortunate that our problems have mainly focused around dealing with a large amount of repair work as well as increased sales.”

One thing Justin was sure of when he took over the business was the product lines. Having worked on the equipment for years, he knew which brands he and the customers already trusted. “We kept the established product lines with the exception of dropping one and adding Honda Power Products,” says Justin. He also sells Cub Cadet, Exmark, Stihl and Troy-Bilt.

HANDS ON

Having spent so much time working for the business before taking ownership, Justin easily slips into the role alongside his team. He prefers to lead his staff by example. Justin works side by side with techs, doing every job they’re expected to do, right down to taking out the garbage. He does this in part because he likes getting involved, but also for quality and profitability purposes.

“We do this partly to train employees correctly, but it also keeps payroll costs under control and helps us stay within the business’s budget,” explains Justin.

The Stocktons are always eager to help, but first and foremost have their own duties to also tend to. Justin handles ordering, sales, service work when needed, and day-to-day operations. Stacy is a full-time high school librarian and mother of two, but finds time to take care of all equipment registrations, advertising and computer issues.

The Stocktons employ a knowledgeable team of mechanics, while equipment loaners are on hand to further improve the service experience. They are especially grateful for the help they receive from Justin’s secretary Karen Crowder-Plemmons.

“Karen has been with us from minute one, has been more dedicated to our success than we were at times, and has been invaluable at keeping the company moving in a forward direction,” says Stacy. “God has blessed us throughout with a wonderful group of supportive family, friends and customers.”

READY TO RENT

The Stocktons have continued to improve upon what the original dealership had to offer. After the remodel, they decided to get deeper into the rental business, purchasing an existing company across town and relocating it to their dealership. The Stocktons had already done a limited amount of equipment rental.

“This has complimented our business in two ways,” explains Justin.

“It allows us to meet the needs of our established customer base, as well as bring in many new customers associated with the construction industry and larger equipment we now have.” In their rural area, there isn’t much of a commercial customer base outside of the municipalities, but the rental business stays afloat with hard-working consumer customers.

The Stocktons work hard on their business and work hard with their employees to get the job done each day. It has worked well for them, as business continues to thrive in a tough economy. With business holding strong, the Stocktons already have laid-out plans for their future.

Within five years, they hope to build a completely new building to take care of space issues within the parts department, as well as the shop and showroom areas. Like most dealers, they view the service department as the most important to customers, and want to improve it in any way possible.

“Achieving this goal will only be obtained through striving to keep our core values of honesty and integrity, and remembering that nothing will go forward without the customer,” Justin says. “Our goal from the very beginning of 2006 was to only change those things we knew we could improve, hoping we have kept the best aspects of this solid and sound company.”

Stockton Power Equipment Inc.

Sheridan, AR
stocktonpowerequipment.com
Founded: 2006
Owners: Justin & Stacy Stockton
Employees: 5 full time
Annual Sales: under $1 million
Sales Mix: 60% wholegoods, 20% parts and accessories, 10% service, 10% other
Customer Sales Mix: 80% consumer, 20% commercial
Shop Labor Rate: $55 per hour
Major Lines: Cub Cadet, Exmark, Honda, Stihl, Troy-Bilt

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