The Hugg & Hall Equipment Company (Hugg & Hall) Product Support Team gathered for a meeting like no other. For the first time (in anyone’s memory) all parts and service managers, as well as all product support sales representatives (PSSRs), gathered together to build comradery and talk about upcoming changes in the coming year. This unprecedented meeting took place in downtown Little Rock, Ark., from May 14 to May 15 at the DoubleTree Hotel and the Robinson Center.
Vice President of Parts and Service Operations, Chris Shields, set the tone for the next two days by offering definitions of comradery and what it means to be a team player in a company of this magnitude. Shields also spoke on the game plan for the meeting, noting that the first day would be difficult because he was going to be talking about the various struggles the departments face internally. He said that he hoped by the end of it all each department would have a better sense of what it means to be a team.
“One objective, one team,” said Shields. “Relentless passion to be the best provider of services that deliver maximum equipment up time to our customers.”
Before diving into the struggles of the Product Support Team, Shield’s spoke on the team’s achievements from the previous year. The Product Support Team had a record-breaking year, they contributed about 45% of the company’s total gross profit. With technicians bringing in 72% of total revenue deriving from product support operations.
“We are in a great place as a company, not only to provide quality service to our customers but to provide quality service and training to attract and retain skilled technicians,” said Shields on the importance of the role technicians serve. “Saying things like ‘they could’ve done better’ or ‘they should’ve tried harder,’ is unacceptable. The value of our techs can’t be understated.”
Larry Denson, Parts Operations Manager at the Hugg & Hall Oklahoma City branch, was surprised by the impact technicians play in the overall success of the company.
“To see the average number in dollars of their (technicians’) contributions to the company’s gross profit and the bottom line was eye-opening, to say the least,” said Denson. “I think if more of the employees understood this it could and should help to eliminate some of those negative views technicians are saddled with.”
Shields was also proud to announce that the team is currently doing business with 55 Fortune 500 companies and 17 Fortune 1000 companies, a large majority of which are located, or have a substantial presence, in Arkansas.
“You should be very proud to do what you do and you should be very proud to do what you do with this company,” said Shields.
When it came time to address the struggles and hardships that the Product Support Team has been facing internally, Shields addressed it head-on, owning up to his part of the problem.
“I receive that, I own that, I believe in that,” said Shields.
The room grew quiet as everyone seemingly began to realize that the problems and issues they were having with specific departments were universal.
“The great thing about old walls is they can be removed,” said James Burgess, Product Support Sales Representative at the Hugg & Hall Fort Smith branch. “Our culture is changing with the business landscape, we are proving to be progressive and self-reflecting. I’m excited to be a part of the Product Support Team and look forward to the great things ahead.”
After the meeting, everyone gathered at the Flying Saucer, a local restaurant near the River Market, for dinner. This was also a great time for everyone to decompress and enjoy meeting people from other branches.
“It is always a neat experience when you get to put a face with a name,” said Denson “You hear these names of your counterparts that are in the same position as those you work with at your branch and then you finally get to meet them.”
The next morning, everyone gathered for the second half of the meeting. Shield’s kicked off the meeting by introducing structural changes within the Product Support Team’s leadership. After the new introductions were made, Mitch Perry, Regional Vice President of Product Support for the southern region, and Mark McLarty, Regional Vice President of Product Support for the northern region, conducted break off meetings with their respective colleagues to answer any questions and set the tone for future meetings.
“This isn’t going to change today, we aren’t going to be all huggy dovey as soon as we leave here, but you’ve got my trust and I hope I’ve got yours,” said McLarty to his group.
“We have the resources and people to do something incredible,” said Perry.
After a short break, everyone gathered to conclude the meeting. The meeting ended with small presentations from Lucas Hall, Product Support Software/Data Developer/Business Analyst, Tracey Gibbs, Corporate Parts Manager and Tom Mitchell, Product Support Manager at the Hugg & Hall Springdale branch. Each presented on new initiatives to minimize downtime and maximize productivity. Each of these initiatives will be detailed in future blog posts.
“This unprecedented meeting provided a unique opportunity to share real-world experiences that may be brought to bear for the benefit of our customers both external and internal; time well spent,” said Mitchell.