The OPE industry grows and evolves because of the dedication of dealers, manufacturers, suppliers and service providers nationwide. We want to award the best of us all, and we have created two awards programs to help us celebrate.
The OPE Business Under 40 Award celebrates people in the OPE industry who are doing amazing work and have many more years to do so. The award winners work in dealerships, in technology, in services, and in manufacturing. Nominated by their peers and chosen by our staff, the professionals honored here are driving improvements in sales, customer service, marketing and technology, engineering, and more.
Award criteria is largely subjective; but you know a leader when you see one, and we do too. The Under 40 Award recipients are helpful and relentless innovators, solving problems with new ideas, strategies and tactics.
We’re happy to introduce you to them here and will give more details in the November issue of OPE Business magazine.
Stihl, Inc., Senior Manager of National Service
Justin Espy is responsible for all field testing before the launch of a product, plus support for dealers and end-users. He aims to provide faster service and more streamlined communications to the dealer, providing more efficient service to the end user and ultimately making Stihl easier to do business with. Since starting this role in early 2023, Espy has already introduced new and improved business systems and communication channels for the dealer. Espy’s experience with the OPE industry started back in 2002 and he is an ISA-certified arborist.
Power Equipment Plus, CEO – Long Island, New York
Josh Flynn took over 3 dealerships as part of an acquisition. At Power Equipment Plus, he put in place clear organization structures where each store has a dedicated manager that reports to CEO. He transitioned the business systems resulting in significantly better business insights. He expanded product offerings to better meet customer needs, and he put business on track for continued growth over next several years. By entered the power-equipment industry with a fresh perspective and an open mind, he helped improve the dealerships he took over, and he continues to do so.
Gillum’s Service and Repair, Service Manager – Ashland, Ky.
Cameron enthusiastically approaches learning the ins and outs of his family’s business. After gaining valuable outside perspective during an internship with the North American Equipment Dealers Association (NAEDA), Cameron jumped straight into the family business. He demonstrates a unique perspective on customer relationships and gaining customers for life as he works in service and on the sales floor. “I’m not a pushy salesperson. Well, I’m kinda pushy,” said Gillum, “but it’s focused on helping the customer. I’ve learned in service that you have to have broad shoulders, and you have to ask the right questions. Most people don’t know what they need, so you ask questions, and that can result in happy customers.”
Mowers Inc. Bradenton, General Manager – Bradenton, Fla.
Ray has grown Mowers Inc. business from a 1 million-dollar-a-year dealership to over 5 million in three years. The person who nominated Ray said, “I am a sales rep and I’ve never met anyone who can do what Ray can do in a dealership. Whether in marketing, sales, or anywhere, Ray goes above and beyond to take care of his customers.” He enables employees to grow their skill sets and he’s always willing to share his knowledge and to lead by example. Ray is great at identifying opportunities and will develop a plan to help grow that employee.
Read about our “Movers & Shakers” award winners.
Kubota Tractor Corporation, Senior Product Manager, Utility Vehicles
Jacob Mandoza is no stranger to disrupting and innovating a deeply rooted industry. In May of 2020, Jacob joined the Kubota team, and as he puts it, found his work home. He brings experience from the golf industry and from Polaris on the utility vehicles side. At Kubota, Mandoza embraces the complexity of the product manager role with a growth mindset. He brings new ideas to executive-leadership along with strategy and plans of action. Mandoza takes a wholistic approach. He considers not only the business opportunity, but also manufacturing, consumer demands, and category innovation. At the end of the day, Mandoza is bringing new utility vehicle products to the market, while also streamlining manufacturing and strengthening product offerings for dealers.
Wooster Power Equipment, Inc., Sales Manager – Wooster, Ohio
Nick Vincent stays focused on driving more sales into the Wooster Power Equipment dealership, and he provides a high level of support from all sides of the business. He goes above and beyond for each and every customer that walks through the door. He makes sure the customer is satisfied with the equipment but also with service after the sale. Customers appreciate that they can get in touch with him anytime. The value of the team is important to Vincent. “We are one under the business and we all help each other grow and succeed,” he said.
Woodland Equipment, Sales & Marketing – Grand Rapids, Mich.
A strong asset for Woodland Equipment, Jonny VantZelfde implemented and streamlined processes, completely remodeled the showroom, created attractive equipment displays and mower stands, and much more. Jonny sets himself apart from others, “he really is a Swiss Army Knife of our team,” said the person nominating him. “He has a drive to set us apart from our competition, and it shows.”