April 2014

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36 | www.cedmag.com | Construction Equipment Distribution | April 2014 Best Practices In 2009 Gibson Machinery was like many other construction equipment dealers, cutting back everywhere it could. They laid off employees and slashed spending. But what they didn't do was stop investing in the employees who remained. "Training is probably something that we try to not elimi- nate, because in the long run it saves you money and it makes you a better company," said Lee Gibson, president. "Walking the talk" when it comes to training is never easy. Short-term pressures on both profits and productivity tempt managers to forgo training opportunities. When times are good, companies often argue that they don't have the time to have employees leave their everyday responsibilities. When times are bad, they claim they can't afford the training. During the difficult economic environment of the past few years AED witnessed a decline in member participa- tion for employee development. Yet, it is during these difficult times when dealers most need to empower their employees to find innovative solutions to meet ongoing challenges. Gibson's long-term view is part of the reason why the company has been profitable every year they have been in business. Gibson and his wife, Larysa, founded the family- owned company in 2003, after having grown up in the industry. Larysa is vice president of finance and admin- istration, and their daughter, Meredith Cavell, serves as sales coordinator. A member of GE Capital's Dealer Counsel, Gibson Machinery was one of only a few select businesses chosen to be featured in GE Capital and Slate's 2013 Roadshow for Growth, a six-month, 20-city tour that addressed the issues of middle market businesses. They were profiled in a video that appeared on Slate.com as well as YouTube. Technician Training Gibson Machinery takes advantage of technical training offered by its primary brands, which are Doosan Infracore and Sennebogen. It sends all 16 technicians to be trained at the manufacturer's facilities, rather than sending one technician who will train the others. "It is better that they all actually go and learn it there," said Lee Gibson. Manufacturer facilities have specialized equipment to help technicians learn to diagnose specific problems. "The train- ing is done very well." Gibson believes technicians are the backbone of the dealership and a key component of the company's competitive advantage. "To be competitive and offer your customer everything that you can, you really need to have that training," he said. "All machines are going to have a problem, it's just a matter of how fast you can fix them." Gibson has seen firsthand how training empowers his employees to get to a jobsite and take care of a problem in a minimum amount of time. The company prides itself on its service work, and Gibson believes the training plays a big part in that. "If you don't have to spend hours troubleshooting something you fix it much quicker. Everybody's happier." Training creates an opportunity for personnel to find growth while remaining in the same company that has invested in them. In the end, the Gibsons feel, training is an essential retention tool, which is especially critical to an industry where there is a shortage of qualified technicians. "We have very low employee turnover among our mechanics," said Gibson. "We go years without losing someone. And then one year, two people might leave." A mixed age group helps protect the company from the knowledge-loss associated with retiring technicians. Experts believe training helps employees feel more Always in Training Taking a long-term view on the benefits of personnel training has paid off for Gibson Machinery. By Joanne CostIn Pictured: Lee Gibson and daughter Meredith Cavell 36_Best_Practices_Feature_KP.indd 36 3/27/14 4:36 PM

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