The Equipment Experts story begins with a 2-year-old boy in a tiny garage. He attempts to change tires on a “68 Camaro SS” race car when his father, Dennis, comes around the corner to see him using a wrench on the lug nuts. Since then, Gregory Conner can typically be found in a garage, with a wrench or welder always in hand.
This fascination with the mechanical did not appear out of thin air. Greg’s father has been a heavy equipment mechanic for almost 50 years, and he taught Greg the craft. During his senior year of High School, Greg moved from Idaho to Washington and worked a full-time job as an oiler and preventative maintenance technician at night. After graduation, he continued his mechanical career dabbling in construction but found his true love as a heavy equipment and truck mechanic.
Meanwhile, I met Greg through a complete bamboozle. A mutual friend thought we would be perfect together, and blindly introduced us to each other. Since that day, we have rarely been apart.
In 1993, after the birth of our first child Arielle, Greg followed in his father’s footsteps and started his own business. Only one year in, the business was struggling and recorded a measly $1,000 in profit. Greg was busy and had lots of work but he did not understand how to translate that into profits. With a small family and mouths to feed, Greg went to work for the Union.
Although Union pay and benefits were lucrative, Greg found out that the job was not all it’s cracked up to be. Over a 10 year timeframe, he bounced between locations and when construction was low, he would often get laid off and experience periods of unemployment.
One year, after coming back from vacation to a voicemail telling him he was laid off, Greg decided it was time to give running his own business another shot. This time he would approach it in a different way.
At the time, Greg was home and taking care of the kids and our newborn baby, Sage, while I was working full time at a corporate job. During this time, Greg spent his mornings and afternoons building his first service truck while caring for our newborn. In 2005, he took the leap and officially went out on his own. Initially, he worked 90 plus hours a week for 3 years straight. This was a man on a mission who was doing this for himself and for the survival of his family.
In 2008, Greg took another leap and hired Nick Morris, a skilled technician, to join his company. At this time, I also came on board after quitting my job at a digital marketing firm. Even though the company was growing, the profits were still not great. In 2010, Greg and I were making less than the poverty level for a family of 5. A family that now consisted of 3 children (2 in school and 1 was in daycare). Family and financial stress caused us to hit rock bottom emotionally and professionally.
At the end of 2010, Greg and I went to a seminar for Management Success – the top automotive, collision, and truck repair consulting and training group in the nation. After taking a year to learn and implement some of the business tactics, we started to increase our profitability. We learned how to hire exceptional people and began to craft a supportive team. Our son Riley began to accompany Greg in the shop and helped with tasks such as sorting bolts. Meanwhile, our daughter Arielle joined the team to help with data entry and invoicing at the age of 16.
Time passed and we continued to add great people to our team and get more training, procedures, and policies into place. Mike Marshall was a previous employer and mentor to Greg. He believed in our vision and actually came out of retirement to assume the role of manager at our shop. He was instrumental in the early days of our growth and remains a dear friend to this day.
As we grew as business operators, our family was able to get involved and support us as well. Riley attended Bates Technical School where he completed their Diesel Training program. After several years in the field, he has become our youngest field tech. Meanwhile, Arielle progressed from data entry to dispatch to Office Manager, to General Manager (after Mike’s retirement).
Currently, Equipment Experts has a staff of 27 that includes technicians, managers, administrative staff, sales and more. Our story is about the growth of a small business alongside a family. It highlights the doubts, hard work, perseverance and education that goes into building both. The sacrifices Greg and I made early on paid off because of the support we received along the way.
Now we have watched several employees add to their families, purchase homes and ultimately build their lives. This is our greatest delight. To think it all started with a 2-year-old boy in a garage tinkering with his father’s race car.
If you require heavy equipment, truck or forklift assistance in the South Puget sound or Tacoma area, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at Equipment Experts, Inc. We are an independently owned, family operated repair and maintenance facility for forklifts, diesel trucks, and heavy equipment. By offering additional convenience resources, we are able to better satisfy our customers by saving them time, money and making their lives easier.