The OPE Business Movers & Shakers Awards recognizes power-equipment professionals who lead with vision and influence to move the industry forward. In the past year, these leaders have embraced the challenges facing the industry, they’ve taken the opportunity to rethink the way they do business, and they’ve managed teams to success.
Winners of this prestigious award span across business in the OPE industry – including manufacturers, distributors, suppliers, dealers or others. “Success” might be an objective outcome, goals focused, or it might be more subjective, resulting in a process improvement, a design direction, or a cultural change.
We’re happy to introduce you to them here and will give more details in the November issue of OPE Business magazine.
American Pride Power Equipment, Owner – Zanesville, Ohio
Ryan Dodson started in 1990 with a small lawn care company in Zanesville, Ohio. In 1997, he opened American Pride Power Equipment in an old retail space. His goal remains to provide both commercial landscapers like himself and residential customers the ability to purchase quality lawn care equipment at an affordable price while providing quality parts and excellent service. Ryan has become one of the industry leaders and is constantly working to improve his business harnessing both the latest technology and working to partner with his employees to deliver a one-of-a-kind experience to his customers.
Andrew Firth has the ability to get everyone behind his vision for the company. His leadership and vision have resulted in the development of Yakta and its new mowers. Andrew focuses on the power-equipment dealers above himself and profits. Taking care of the dealers ensures that the entire industry is better. His saying “love our dealers to death” is echoed throughout the entire Yakta business.
Stihl Inc., Director of Business Development
Jeremy Krueger has held several roles with Stihl, Inc. since starting as a technical service assistant with one of the company’s distributors. He was most recently the marketing manager for Northeast Stihl before taking on his current role as director of business development in June. Kruger uses all these experiences to enhance processes that will secure new dealers. Krueger helps his employees succeed and grow by fostering open communication and collaboration. He encourages ideas and empowers his team members to be innovative. He also strives to understand the unique characteristics of each of his team members. He recognizes the talent that each of his employees has to offer and aligns responsibilities to their strengths.
Read about our “Under 40” winners.
McLaughlin bought a dealership group in Alaska and was not happy with the business’s dealership management software. He created his own, and that became Flyntlok, one of the newer companies in dealership management software. His company is quickly gaining a reputation for being customer-focused and cutting-edge. Flyntlok continues to innovate and add new features while keeping simplicity in mind. McLaughlin calls this “software built by dealers, for dealers. McLaughlin worked his way through college as a landscaper. He owned a New England apple orchard when he lived on the east coast. McLaughlin built trading-system software for Wall Street companies before he moved to Alaska.
Midwest Equipment and Supply, Vice President & Chief Operating Officer
Rob has led one of the premier OPE distributors, Midwest Equipment and Supply, for more than 30 years. His influence on helping manufacturers raise their level of training has been consistent throughout his tenure. This has had a great impact on many dealers. Rob has always researched and studied the market, which has given him the ability to help major manufacturers make good decisions for the marketplace in programming, promotions, and direction for equipment. He is a selfless leader who has raised the bar for all manufacturers, distributors, and dealers. Ultimately, the end-user experience is better, as this has always been his number one goal.
Yellowstone, Senior Production Manager – Findlay OH
Rob Ponn demonstrates his leadership by driving the use of autonomous mowing in commercial landscaping. He has embraced autonomous technology and the insights provided by the data it generates. Rob’s leadership has led to incredible cost savings for his team. Other branches within Yellowstone have noticed his success and are anxious to follow his lead. They are requesting him to come and teach them how to replicate his success in their branches. Twelve months ago, there were few autonomous robots actively working on landscaping crews in the US (not a pilot projects, but actual robotic workers staffed on a crew). Rob has demonstrated that a dedicated autonomous mowing crew can provide benefits to the entire team.
trDigital, LLC, Director of Strategic Partnerships
As the former corporate marketing manager of Scag Inc, Jake Segrin’s role as Director of Strategic Partnerships for trDigital allows him to share his knowledge of the OPE industry with all OEMs, distributors and dealers to advance the entire industry.
Jake has been instrumental in assisting Scag distributor, Power Tool Company, and its transition from legacy marketing (radio, billboard, newspaper) to the digital space. The combination of search and social marketing allows dealers to grow their business and come into the 21st century with a friendly and knowledgeable approach.