Multi Machine, Inc., sells, rents, services and repairs heavy construction equipment for an array of clients in construction, mining, oil, gas, electricity, utilities and environmental remediation. The family company marked its thirty-fifth anniversary this year with explosive growth and a highly optimistic forecast for the future. This key distributor of track dump trucks recently added rotating dump trucks to its equipment mix.
At present, business is booming, driven by demand in the fossil fuel sector. “With the pipeline regulations being rolled back, some of our biggest customers this year have been the pipeline guys, doing installations and such. Oil and gas are real big right now,” says Ken Druckenmiller, manager at Multi Machine and sister company, Summit Supply LLC.
Multi Machine’s headquarters is in a 100,000-square-foot facility in Asbury, New Jersey that features a huge inventory of construction equipment. The company also has a branch in Seattle, Washington and a storage yard in San Antonio, Texas. The firm has partnerships with other companies to utilize additional equipment yards in Atlanta, Georgia and other locales.
Its revenue model has undergone major changes in recent years. “About six years ago we were probably ninety-five percent sales, five percent rentals. We’ve seen a dramatic shift toward rentals. People just don’t want the cost of maintaining the equipment,” says Druckenmiller.
The current split at Multi Machine is roughly seventy percent rentals and thirty percent sales. The company handles both new and used equipment and is a dealer for Prinoth and Rayco manufacturers of tracked vehicles.
The track dump truck is its most popular product in both sales and rentals. Such trucks have huge advantages over their wheeled counterparts. Wide, rubber tracks exert less pressure per square inch on the ground than a wheel. Tracked vehicles can handle wet terrain, mud, steep grades and other conditions that a wheeled vehicle could not manage.
During springtime or rainy seasons, “as soon as the ground gets wet, wheeled machines are down. If a customer rents a wheeled truck and all of a sudden the ground gets too wet, they could be paying for a rental to sit there for a week, spending thousands of dollars for something they can’t use. If they rented a tracked vehicle from us, they could have no downtime due to weather at all, because there’s nothing that stops these trucks,” says Druckenmiller.
Multi Machine was “the first ones to bring track trucks in. We set the precedent for the whole industry,” he continues.
The company has recently expanded its lineup to include rotating dump trucks. These trucks have beds in the back that can rotate before releasing a load. Such vehicles are extremely useful in situations where there’s limited room to maneuver. “The pipeline guys love the rotating trucks as well. When they’re backfilling, they don’t need to keep doing K-turns [three-point turns],” he says.
It will ship equipment to clients anywhere in the continental U.S. “Last week we had a customer [in Kentucky] call up saying ‘We have an emergency job; we need trucks by tomorrow afternoon.’ These people are seven hundred miles away. We got it done. We stayed until 6:30 to 7 o’clock at night to load the truck, and the driver ran all night to make sure the truck was there on the job the next day,” says Druckenmiller.
That said, “Being a dealer for Prinoth and Rayco, the northeast is our territory. The northeast would definitely be the place where we have the most trucks rented out,” notes Curt Mornan, sales and rental manager at Multi Machine.
The company also offers custom outfitting to clients. “It’s a new service. Being a Prinoth dealer has helped us a lot because their trucks are very customizable … we just outfitted [a client’s vehicle] with a dozer blade on the front and a chipper on the back. It’s a very unique machine … We have trucks with cement mixers on the back. We have outfitted trucks with hydroseeders, hydrovacs, air compressors, fuel tanks for refilling the equipment out in the field. Instead of bringing all the equipment back to one central source, we can bring the fuel right to the equipment in the field,” says Druckenmiller.
It is looking to expand the custom outfitting side of its business in the future. The company has nearly thirty full-time employees who handle all these responsibilities.
“Last year at this time, we were probably around twenty. So our business has increased, not just employee wise but volume-wise. It’s increased about twenty to twenty-five percent for the past four years or so. We don’t see that slowing down at all,” he adds.
In addition to superior service, the company’s growth can be attributed to high-end equipment and competitive pricing, according to Druckenmiller.
Multi Machine wants new hires who are team players. “We don’t actually work off commission here, we work on team bonuses. If one salesman has a down month and another salesman has a really good month, at the end of the month, they’re still going to get the same bonus as long as the company has hit its overall goals,” he says.
Multi Machine owns an ancillary firm called Summit Supply that sells rubber tracks, solid tires and undercarriage wear parts. Summit Supply shares office space with Multi Machine in Asbury and Seattle and has locations of its own in Dallas, Atlanta, Joliet, Illinois and Riverside, California.
In addition to selling products, Summit Supply runs a rubber track recycling program. “It’s a problem. People dump [old rubber tracks] in landfills but they’re not biodegradable,” says Druckenmiller.
An external company, working with Summit Supply, devulcanizes the rubber from the steel, grinds up the rubber then recycles everything. The recycling program is “not a real moneymaker by any means, but we believe in making good for the environment,” he says.
Multi Machine also owns a company in Canada called Contrax Equipment that sells rubber tracks and undercarriage parts. The company has expanded from one location when Multi Machine took it over a few years ago, to three.
The company can trace its roots to a basement in small-town Garwood, New Jersey that belonged to Ken’s father, Bruce Druckenmiller. Bruce worked in his house as a machinist, making parts with a lathe and mill. When his main client abruptly quit to get their parts done overseas, Bruce decided to sell his equipment. Surprised at the profit he earned and casting about for a new line of work, Bruce acquired around $20,000 of used equipment at an auction. Bruce resold the gear for $90,000 and decided to become an equipment distributor. He launched Multi Machine in 1982 and remains company president.
Because of the nature of the equipment it stocks, Multi Machine is very safety conscious. Each construction vehicle includes a card on the steering wheel with operator instructions. A more detailed operator’s manual is left in the cab. As a further check on safety and quality, each vehicle is serviced before it’s rented. The company keeps track of long-term rentals (clients can rent on a yearly basis) and makes scheduled tune-ups. It will send mechanics into the field to ensure its rental equipment is properly maintained.
Multi Machine’s equipment has been involved in several interesting projects. The company’s gear was recently utilized to bring in clean sand to replenish dunes on Ormond Beach, Florida, for example. The beach had been badly impacted by Hurricane Matthew.
On a totally different front, it recently donated some vehicles for a parade in Lancaster, Pennsylvania hosted by a Make-a-Wish charity. The parade was organized for children who wanted to see industrial/construction equipment up-close.
In terms of promotion, the company attends trade shows, has a website and lively social media presence and takes out advertisements in industry-related publications.
“One of the things we branched into this year is having a much larger presence at trade shows and industry-specific shows. We’re trying to put much more of a focus on the pulse of the market,” says Mike Consalazio, marketing manager for Multi Machine and Summit.
Multi Machine also relies on referrals and recommendations from clients for promotional purposes. “We have such a great rep in the industry that I’m sure our marketing budget is substantially less than a lot of competitors … This is definitely a business that is driven by word of mouth. We have an incredibly happy customer base that’s very, very loyal,” says Druckenmiller.
In five years, Druckenmiller would like to have more locations and “probably double the amount of machines … and even more quality staff. Maybe triple the number of quality staff we currently have.”
As Multi Machine expands, the plan is to keep it a family business. “We’re a close-knit group. Even though we’re adding more employees, we don’t want to lose the feel of a family business, just because it makes it that more personal. Even our customers feel like part of the family because we text them and whatever else, to make sure everything is going okay. It all comes back to service. We want to make sure we have the best service and we know we do,” he says.