by Becca Taurisano
It’s a whole new Five Star Equipment in Syracuse. The Dunmore, PA based construction equipment company opened their new, state-of-the-art Syracuse facility in November 2020, shortly after General Manager Dave Kreis came on board in September. With over 30 years’ experience in the construction industry, Kreis was tasked with filling multiple open positions. “I wanted to find people that would be a good fit. Here in Syracuse, we needed to reinvigorate the atmosphere of teamwork.” Kreis was able to staff his team with a combination of outside hires and promoting from within, an important practice at Five Star Equipment.
Recent hires include Scott Hinman, Sales Manager, who comes from a large, national construction rental company with many years of service and branch management experience. Tim DeLany, the Used Equipment Manager has over 30 years of construction experience, the last 20 of which were in used equipment.
Valerie Smith started at Five Star Equipment in 1990 in the service department, worked in various departments, and now serves as Rental Manager for both the Syracuse and Kirkwood branches. Smith has even served as Interim General Manager, when needed. Smith says, “I just truly love working with the customers. It is a close-knit family at the end of the day.”
Pam Huckaby, Corporate Parts Operations Manager, started off on the parts counter, worked her way up to Parts Specialist, and then to her current corporate role. “Pam has been instrumental in hiring and interviewing parts employees and leading the charge in training and mentoring,” Kreis says. “Every day, Pam drives home that the customer comes first and she does a phenomenal job at it.” Huckaby recently assisted with the rollout of the MyDealer portal, an online parts ordering system, and getting larger customers on board.
Gary Mason, Senior Governmental Territory Sales Manager, oversees municipality customers in five counties. “Gary has maintained an industry leading market share with those customers and the John Deere line. He is always available to help and mentor the new sales professionals,” Kreis says.
Lori Prent, Service Advisor; Brian Jacopelle, Territory Sales Manager; and Chris Pier, Product Support Sales Specialist are internal hires who have been promoted to their current positions. Jacopelle has over 15 years of experience and Pier came to Five Star from BOCES, already earning his first promotion in his brief career. Kreis says customers can rely on these industry professionals to provide the highest quality service in construction equipment sales, rentals, and service.
Bringing a fresh perspective to Five Star Equipment is Rob Hecox, the new Service Manager in Syracuse. Hecox has been able to draw on his experience in the automotive industry. “We lean on Rob for feedback in the area of sales and service to help our customers,” Kreis says. Brian Doran, Territory Sales Manager, has nearly five years of industry experience, joined the company in January 2021, and is already a strong producer. Juli Rowe, Sales and Branch Administrator, has served in a variety of administrative and office management roles prior to joining Five Star Equipment in April 2021.
Kreis believes you must exceed customer expectations and communication is essential to doing that. “Getting back to customers in a timely manner is key. We have a very short season in central New York and our customers need to get a lot done. Many of the customers we deal with are multi-generation companies. Relationships in the construction industry are built over long periods of time and you have to go above and beyond their expectations.”
TRAINING & EDUCATION
Five Star Equipment places emphasis on a highly trained workforce who are certified to work on highly technical machinery. “Much like our cars and our appliances, machinery is very complicated now and the repairs need to be done by certified technicians. We provide this through external training from John Deere University, or internal training with our own product support operations managers,” says Kreis. The organization is always looking to build its team as well. “Having teams with qualified people is essential,” Kreis says, “so we invest heavily in employee training and education.”
Five Star Equipment carries a vast array of product lines including John Deere, Hitachi, Fecon, Bomag, Eager Beaver Trailers, Trail King, HARLO, and Topcon. “We are seeing global shortages on all kinds of products, so availability is key. We are able to offer a large and diverse fleet of equipment from industry leaders to support all of our customers’ needs,” Kreis says. Consistency is also important as customers are more mobile and work across county and state lines. Kreis says customers should have the same experience in any Five Star Equipment location. “We want the customers to expect they will hear from someone in a timely manner, there will be follow up, and there is someone accountable like a General Manager that they can reach out to.” Smith says, “Our goal is to accommodate the customer in every branch. We want to go above and beyond in every way we can.”
With a new facility and a new team, Five Star Equipment is looking to the future. CEO Bill Farrell says, “The company has changed to reflect the industry. There are more women in positions of leadership in construction.” In addition to Valerie Smith and Pam Huckaby, General Manager of the Williamsport branch, Carrie Wolf, and Human Resources Director Elena Seidita, also serve in key leadership roles at the company. “We have the right people in the right positions and we are always looking for more people to join our team,” Farrell says. “For us, the future means strengthening existing customer relationships by always putting our customers first.”