Our 2022 40 Under 40 Awards featured young OPE leaders from across the country. In the next couple of weeks, we’ll highlight several of our 2022 award-winners here. Our winners were chosen not only for their numerous accomplishments and individual strengths, but also for their passion for their dealerships and outdoor power equipment – and the promise they bring for the future of our industry. Of course, you can check out the entire 40 Under 40 roster in our May/June issue.
Owner, Saint Louis Equipment – St. Louis, Missouri
Tim Jenkerson leads by example. “First in, last out every day. I’m not afraid to step in and do whatever it takes to make this business successful, doing any job necessary,” he says. “I am more than willing to listen and implement another employee’s idea. I realize that I don’t always have all of the answers and that other people are better in certain areas. I allow peoples’ strengths to come through. I really feel that great ideas come from everywhere, and no one should be afraid to speak up with new ideas and ways to do things. Whether it’s a new product to carry or a new way of doing things, I’m open to any idea that someone brings to me, implement it, and combine our knowledge to make it work, as long as they have thought about how and why we should do it. And if an idea does not work, either find a different, better way to do it, or step in and shut it down at a certain point.”
Since taking over ownership of Saint Louis Equipment about four years ago, says a nominator, “Tim has strengthened the team and his base of customers. In the last few months, he has purchased a building and property from a former landscape-materials supply business, positioning himself for the next level of growth [and] he has built a service team to support growth. Tim is the backbone of this business. The new building has been put into shape in short order. Spring 2022 will be serious go-time at this new location, and it looks like they are ready to bring it on.”
The new property has provided the dealership with better store roadside frontage, Tim points out, and the large lot allows them to incorporate bulk material into the business, providing another reason for the commercial landscaper to visit the facility.
“We now have mulch, and decorative gravels on site. We also have a yard-waste dumpsite. We have added another major brand of mowers to our lineup, and we now carry what I feel are the two best mower brands on the market – Wright and Scag. We have also added the Tuatara line of UTVs. And by adding two additional mechanics, we’re able to keep lead time short, and mower repair turnaround time down,” he says.
What truly sets Saint Louis Equipment apart from his competitors? “It’s our knowledge of our consumer,” says Tim. “I have been in the lawn and landscape maintenance business since I was 12, and still own a lawncare business with 30 employees. I know exactly what the owner/operator lawncare business needs, and I know exactly what the larger commercial lawncare business needs. I know that you cannot have equipment down. Our customers know that if they call with a simple fix, like a drive belt popping off, or a PTO switch going out, they can call, say, ‘Hey Tim, my mower is down, can I swing by and you take a look?’ That customer knows I will have a mechanic ready to get them back up and running right then and there. These mowers are expensive, and I know that a customer cannot have a mower, or any other piece of equipment, down – it’s their money maker. We concentrate on people that do lawncare for a living, and they know if they come to us, we will have them up and running faster than anyone else in the area. We will service a piece of equipment, whether a customer buys from us or not. We just know how important it is to have equipment that works.”
He also stresses the importance of his employees: “Making my employees’ daily work life easier is the best thing I can do. Our mechanics know that they have free rein to purchase the tools they need. Finding programs to make invoicing, inventory, daily tasks as streamlined as possible. Our employees realize that, yes, you have to come ready to work, but taking as much of the un-needed worry, and stress of operating throughout a day is key. I come in at least an hour before everyone else to plan each and every day out. I try to have the day prepared every morning for success. The day can go sideways in an instant, but at least we are prepared when it does. The biggest thing is to never stop: Never stop innovating, improving, and focusing on a set goal. My employees know that we are customer-service first.”
In addition to Wright, Scag and Tuatara, the dealership also carries Husqvarna handheld equipment and The Ramp Rack system. “We only carry products that I will stand behind,” he says. “I’m not going to sell anything just to sell it. We have been approached by other brands that I just won’t sell, because I feel that I would be doing our customer a disservice. If I wouldn’t use it to run a lawncare business, I won’t sell it. I love talking about all aspects of lawncare with all of our customers – sharing ideas, talking about best practices, complaining about weather, you name it. Our customers know that we are in the business with them.”
SAINT LOUIS EQUIPMENT