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.
Parts Manager, American Pride Power Equipment – Zanesville, Ohio
It’s not been easy to have a positive mindset during the past year – Covid and a limited supply chain have seen to that. But at American Pride Power Equipment, Brian Novotny has shown that combining positivity with creativity can reap rewards for an OPE dealership.
In fact, said a nominator, “Brian has the most positive attitude and passion for the OPE industry. His passion and attitude infect everyone around him and creates a very positive environment. Everyone’s day starts better when Brian walks through the doors. With the challenges in the industry at this time, Brian has found ways to get product through channels outside of ‘normal’ vendors, which has expedited customer service and turnaround time. Brian has also done an amazing job forecasting these shortages to the point where availability and price have been less of an issue compared to the industry par. Brian is a person every dealership should strive to have!”
“We have been facing unprecedented issues with the supply chain across all levels, [so] we have had to be creative … to create solutions,” says Brian. “While the availability of parts will never be 100 percent, we have added additional partners so that if there is a backorder, it’s because we have exhausted all reasonable options. I have had to drive this so that we can create solutions for our community. Being one of the larger dealers in our small town, we have to be the resource for not only what we sell but anything with an engine.”
Training new employees is another challenge he’s devised a solution for: “Due to our growth, we have had to bring on some new folks that have the correct attitude but not necessarily the experience in the OPE retail industry. We’ve had to hit the ground running, so we set up some processes so that when we’re busy, the folks at the counter as well as others can answer the most commonly asked questions. We’ve done this through guides with quick access part numbers – utilizing the operating system to create relationships between parts that are commonly sold together – and through training to know what the common questions are and what the responses should be. While not everyone needs to track down a carb kit for a trimmer on a related brand that we don’t carry, everyone should know what oil is recommended and that there are differences and similarities in oil filters, for instance.”
When it comes to educating customers, Brian isn’t limiting himself to those that walk through American Pride’s doors. “I have been working outside of the dealership to educate consumers about choosing, maintaining and properly using equipment to enhance their yardwork. I have 10-plus years’ experience in landscaping along with more than 10 years at a dealership that have led me to help others enjoy yardwork as much as I do. Over the past few years, I’ve had the opportunity to lead presentations at the Columbus (Ohio) Home and Garden Show on multiple topics related to equipment selection, maintenance and repair. I also regularly teach in-person classes at the Columbus Garden School, which offers classes in various topics related to homeownership and homesteading.”
He continues: “I’m also working on putting content out there via social media, so that they have more info as to what’s available and what’s needed to enjoy lawncare and landscape more. I’m also working to create a network of dealers, distributors and manufacturers to ease parts sourcing, communication and assistance to help the industry grow and flourish to what it really could be for the future. The supply-chain strain that we’re currently experiencing is a great example as to why dealerships and manufacturers need to work together to help our consumers enjoy their equipment and their yard. Nothing is more fulfilling that having a customer come back for more equipment as they are happy with what they have and are not spending more than necessary to keep it running year after year.”
American Pride Power Equipment’s brands include Cub Cadet, Exmark, Spartan, Ferris, Husqvarna, Redmax and DeWalt.
AMERICAN PRIDE POWER EQUIPMENT