Issue link: http://read.dmtmag.com/i/489019
>> 40-BELOW JOANNE COSTIN M eet the brother-sister team that is making its mark on Monroe Tractor, a family-owned Case agriculture and construction equipment dealership with 11 locations throughout New York state. While each took a differ- ent path to leadership positions within the dealership founded by their grand- father, they're on the same page as far as what it's going to take to continue the growth of the 65-year-old brand. Chris Felosky, 39, in his 14th year with the company, was recently named general manager of the Agricultural team. Laura, 36, joined Monroe Tractor in 2011 as marketing manager. Founder Henry Hansen just recently retired as chairman of the board and CEO. His daughter, Janet Felosky, (mom of Chris and Laura) is the current CEO and president. Growing up, Chris worked summers at Monroe Tractor's main branch in Rochester, N.Y., and always had an idea that he wanted to work for the company; but he also wanted to explore other career opportunities. Aer graduat- ing from the University of Delaware he worked in banking and then in sales for Paychex payroll service. "I really liked selling, but what I didn't like about selling the payroll service is that it wasn't relationship selling – it was about getting the business, and operations would take over from there, " he said. In 2001, he took a sales position at Monroe Tractor in Rochester, and has assumed increasing responsibilities ever since. For Laura, the decision to join the dealership was more difficult. It all started when Chris decided they needed someone to bring in new ideas and more professionalism to the marketing position. "e first person who came to mind was my sister," he said. When he approached her about the opportunity, she was enjoying a successful career with office supply retailer Staples, headquartered in Boston. "I was hesi- tant because I was feeling really good about my position at Staples. I was also worried about the dynamics of working with my mom and brother – I didn't want our relationship to change. Lastly, I didn't want to uproot my family." When Chris sent her the job descrip- tion, she promised him she would at least look through it. She quickly realized she was far more invested in the success of the family business than she had first imagined. "I came to understand that it was the right decision for me," said Laura. Aer working remotely at the onset of the job, she now also works at the headquar- ters for one week each month. "It is getting to the point where I need to figure out if I want to continue in the marketing role or if I want to play a bigger role and move back," said Laura. More Than a Brand When she started the job Laura found that some of the branches were marketing independently and there was a clear lack of strategy. "There was a need to build consistency and continuity across all 11 stores," she said. Developing consistent messag- ing and a consistent brand promise to our customers became the priority. "It was recognized that we needed to bring everyone together and repre- sent one company not 11 separate companies," she added. Living the Brand and the Bonds Siblings Chris Felosky and Laura Wilkas model family commitment and brand promise at their 11-branch New York dealership. 44 | www.cedmag.com | Construction Equipment Distribution | April 2015 The brand promise is far more than a slogan. CED CHECKS IN WITH A PAIR OF UP-AND- COMING DEALER LEADERS UNDER AGE 40 LEADER OF LEADERS Laura Wilkas recently took on a leadership role with AED's new young leaders group. A dozen young dealer executives met during the AED Summit to share their ideas about how AED can meet their needs as future leaders at their companies. e group elected Wilkas to chair the Future Leaders Council, and chose Brian Meis- sen from Reynolds-Warren Equipment as vice chair. Wilkas says she is looking forward to the opportunity to network and learn from peers at other dealerships who are not competitors. "As a family-owned business it is difficult to get unbiased feedback," she said. AED Regional Manager Phil Riggs facilitated the February meeting, which, in addition to the new leader- ship, was attended by: JB Closner, Closner Equipment; Brooke Tyler IV, Tyler Equipment Corp; Katie and Chris Anderson, Anderson Machinery; Jeff Bonomo, Indy Equipment; Corey Vander Molen, Vermeer MidSouth; Jonathan Campbell, Wheeler Machinery; Jonathan Berry, e Berry Companies; Remington Lawyer, Star Equipment; and Matt McGowan, Cowin Equipment. All future leaders are encouraged to attend AED's Leadership Academy in Napa, Calif., Aug. 25-27 at the Meritage Resort.