Founded in 1980 by business partners Frank Gallo and Bill Bochicchio, Sr., Five Star Equipment has evolved from humble beginnings into a major player in the municipal and general contracting markets in New York and Pennsylvania. The company currently has eight locations serving 57 counties within the two states and is a premiere John Deere construction and forestry equipment dealer enjoying a 35-plus year relationship with the construction and forestry equipment icon.
Five Star Equipment is in the midst of a five to seven year expansion plan with a view to update existing branches with renovations or construct brand new facilities where warranted.
For the official grand opening of the newly constructed state-of-the-art facility in the Buffalo suburb of Orchard Park, NY, Five Star Equipment held a celebratory open house on June 12. Director of Marketing Patricia O’Brien explained the new building is “a 25,000 square foot facility that is truly state-of-the-art for our industry.” Within the repair and maintenance shop there are two 10-ton hoist cranes “so we can repair virtually any size piece of heavy construction or forestry equipment — whether it’s John Deere or has any other name attached to it.”
Other flagship brands in the Five Star corral include Hitachi, Bomag compaction, Fecon and Topcon GPS grading systems.
Currently, the employee group at the new facility is about 20 people. O’Brien continued, “We’re looking to provide state-of-the-art facilities that not only benefit our customers but also benefit our employees. Our employees are so proud and excited to come into work each day. We have a well-organized parts department housing a vast inventory of parts, which helps our customers. They can come in, pick up their parts and get back to business.”
The parts department counter is located in the main lobby and consists of three ultra modern computer stations equipped with parts inventory software to insure up-to-date in-house supply counts of every part they carry. The cutting edge system allows for quick servicing of customers who can’t afford to loose important repair time.
CEO Bill Farrell is leading the resurgence of the company, taking it up a notch. Although Farrell came from a completely different background than construction, it’s obvious partners Gallo and Bochicchio made the right choice to lead this major overhaul and expansion project.
Farrell said, “I’ve been with the company for three years as the CEO and it’s been an interesting journey. The reason we’re investing in the Buffalo market first is that it is one of the largest markets within the area of our responsibility. The Orchard Park facility was dated and needed to be renovated — but when we looked at the options of renovating or building a new facility, we opted for building new. We thought from a customer point of view and employee point of view, making the investment at this time in this marketplace was key to Five Star’s future success.”
Construction of this new facility was on the heels of remodeling the Dunmore, PA branch. They are currently working on the remodel of the Corporate Center building, which is located on the same property in Dunmore. The Orchard Park location is the first of the new buildings to be completed and was designed from the ground up to meet and exceed the service and parts needs of Five Star Equipment’s customers in the Buffalo market.
Farrell continued, “We just completed a significant renovation in Dunmore Pennsylvania, which is where our headquarters are. We just broke ground in Syracuse, New York for a brand new facility being constructed there and we’re looking for a new location in Rochester, New York, where we hope to break ground for a new facility next year. And then we’re going to continue through the rest of our locations over the course of the next several years.”
All locations sell, rent, service and provide parts support. Farrell continued, “We not only service in the shop, but we have a number of vehicles that travel to customer job sites to do repairs. It is not always convenient to bring equipment here — especially in regard to production-class equipment — so we bring the repair capabilities to the job sites.”
O’Brien said the event was months in the planning and throughout the day, excited customers filtered in to enjoy a behind the scenes look at the new facility and take part in the catered barbecue lunch.
Outside in the expansive yard, all manner of equipment was on display with OEM representatives on hand to answer any questions. There was also a demo area set up for the Topcon GPS grading system. Five Star’s Grade Control Specialist Charles Roberts was assisted in the demo area by Territory Sales Manager for the Williamsport, PA branch, Budd Greevy, who also specializes in Topcon Grade Control sales. They were ready and willing to assist any of the guests who wanted to experience the current technology.
Bill McDonald is the general manager of the Orchard Park location as well as the Waterford, PA location, which services the Erie market. “What we did here was build on the same property, behind the old facility. This way we were able to function as a dealer, right here, fully until we were ready to move into the new facility.” The original facility was purchased in 2004 and was demolished in April of this year after moving into the newly constructed building.
McDonald said with the upgrade and expansion program, Five Star Equipment is looking to expand their clientele within all their markets. They are fully staffed to meet the needs of the expansion. He explained the company’s HR department is being proactive in recruiting to “stay ahead of the curve in order to add to the pipeline.” Anticipating the need for skilled technicians and service personnel in the future, the company is “always looking to grow as a whole. The HR department actively works with SUNY Cobbleskill [College of Agriculture and Technology] and with Penn College [of Technology] in Williamsport [PA].”
Several executives from John Deere’s headquarters in Moline, IL, were on hand at the event to celebrate the grand opening. Representatives from many of the other flagship brands were also available to showcase their latest equipment and to answer questions as needed.