Five Star Equipment Building for the Future

By: Sarah Hall

Five Star Equipment prides itself on, above all else, five core values: customer focus, integrity, accountability, teamwork and excellence.

Five Star Equipment is a full-service dealer for a number of major construction equipment brands, including John Deere, Hitachi, Bomag, Topcon, Fecon and dozens of other manufacturers. Their client list is made up of private and municipal customers in the construction, forestry, and commercial worksite industries in northern Pennsylvania and central and western New York state.

“We are a full-service dealer, which means we provide all of the support to our customers before, during and after the sale,” said Five Star Equipment’s Marketing Director Patricia O’Brien. “We provide our customers with virtually all of their equipment and attachment needs, as well as product support after the sale by John Deere factory-certified service technicians.”

The company has seven locations: Dunmore, Williamsport, and Waterford, Pennsylvania, and Kirkwood, Syracuse, Rochester and Orchard Park, New York.

Five Star Equipment was founded in 1980 by business partners Frank Gallo, Bill Bochicchio, Sr. and Louis DeNaples. After a few years of successful business operations with a full-line GMC truck dealership located just outside of Scranton, PA, the entrepreneurs acquired a John Deere Construction and Forestry dealership in the area. John Deere continued to offer the company expansion opportunities in New York and Pennsylvania. Over the following decades the company adjusted its dealer footprint and now serves customers from seven locations covering 57 counties in the neighboring states.


Fast forward to 2016, when Bill Farrell was brought on board as the company’s first Chief Executive Officer. Farrell and Five Star Equipment’s Senior Leadership Team have created a long-range strategic plan to reinvest in the business to carry it into the future.

New Syracuse facility

A significant part of that strategic plan is the construction of a new facility in Syracuse, New York. The current building was constructed in 1991 and, according to Farrell, has outgrown the ability to service the needs of Five Star Equipment’s customers and its employees.

“Syracuse is a growing, vibrant market. This new facility is an investment in our employees and the customers that we serve,” Farrell said. “Our goal in Syracuse is to create an environment that provides our people with the tools and infrastructure they need to achieve success, which, in turn, provides our valued customers with world class equipment backed by outstanding service.”

Located in Airport Business Park at 5801 E. Taft Road along I-81 North, the 25,000-square-foot facility is situated on approximately 10 acres and includes the following features:

  • Building design is geared towards maximizing efficiency and service capabilities
  • An outdoor equipment “playground” will allow customers the opportunity to demo equipment on-site
  • Expansive showroom/reception area with a modern, computerized parts counter plus a designated customer portal parts pick-up counter
  • Curbside/external parts pickup area
  • Parts warehouse with garage door access for receiving and parts dispatch
  • Eight-bay service area equipped with four 10-ton overhead cranes
  • Separate equipment wash bay
  • Sales and administrative offices and conference rooms for training sessions and customer meetings
  • Breakroom, locker rooms and rest rooms

“Everyone in the Syracuse branch is very excited about the new facility. It’s really taking shape with the exterior just about buttoned up. We are looking forward to a new shop with capabilities to perform work at ease,” said Syracuse interim General Manager Valerie Smith, who joined the company in 1990. “Personally, I’m very happy to be a part of this next phase that Five Star Equipment has taken. I love what I’m seeing with the growing success of this company.”

From this location, customers will receive full product support in the shop or in the field by John Deere Certified Service Technicians. This location provides service to Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca, Oswego, Madison, Oneida and Herkimer counties. Field service work is completed using two fully stocked road service trucks.

The construction in Syracuse follows the construction of a new facility in Orchard Park, New York, as well as renovations of the locations in Dunmore, Pennsylvania, and Kirkwood, New York, all of which have taken place over the last two years.

Recruiting—and keeping—the best

Having the best possible facilities will allow Five Star Equipment to continue to meet the high standards set by the brands they represent.

“We are very proud to represent all of these brands, particularly John Deere,” O’Brien said. “Our employees are regularly trained via online courses and in-person training by John Deere and other manufacturers to ensure our product knowledge is at the highest level to allow us to best serve our customers.”

And it’s representing those brands that draws employees to work for Five Star Equipment —though finding qualified workers can be a challenge.

“There is a nationwide shortage of experienced service technicians that are capable of working on heavy equipment and large diesel machines,” O’Brien said. “We are continuing to build relationships with area colleges that offer the types of programs that produce service technicians who are ready to work on machines, but we are also looking for more experienced service technicians. That’s probably the biggest challenge for us as an organization from a Human Resources perspective.”

Once employees have hired on with the company, however, they’re likely to stay. Many employees, like Valerie Smith, have been with Five Star Equipment for decades. Farrell said that’s thanks to the culture of teamwork, accountability and transparency built by the organization’s senior leadership.

“Our doors are always open,” he said. “Anyone at any time can approach a branch General Manager, a member of the corporate Senior Leadership Team or me with an idea, suggestion or concern and they are heard.”

That’s the idea behind Five Star Equipment’s Powering Your Success tagline, which seeks to empower both employees and customers.

“We introduced Powering Your Success as our corporate tagline in the fall of 2018,” Farrell said. “For our employees, it means the company is powering their success by providing them with the tools they need to do their job including new and remodeled facilities, a new Human Resources system, opportunities for growth and development, and much more. For our customers, it means that we are an important contributor to their success by providing outstanding equipment, support and service throughout the life of the machines or parts they purchase from us.”

A bright future

At the moment, Five Star Equipment, like everyone else, is in uncharted territory due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But leadership is confident this is little more than a bump in the road.

“For the immediate future, we are looking for the economy to bounce back so that our customers can return to their full workload as the COVID-19 pandemic continues,” O’Brien said. “We have kept in regular contact with our customers to help them weather this storm however we could, by offering special programs and discounts on rentals, purchases and service programs.”

And as things return to normal, O’Brien said Five Star Equipment is looking to expand is customer base in its existing seven locations. She said the best way to do that is by investing in the business.

“One way to grow is by recruiting, retaining and training top talent at all levels of the company,” she said. “Another way to grow is by providing our customers and employees with modern facilities, like the one we are building in Syracuse. These facilities will enable our employees to work more efficiently and have the right tools in place to best serve our customers.”