More than 1,400 heavy equipment machines were financed in Michigan last year and Case Construction Equipment has a five-year plan to gain a larger share of that market. Courtesy Case Construction Equipment
James Maioho is setting up a bulkhead to help resuscitate Case Construction Equipment’s market share and reputation in Michigan.
Following nearly 10 years of sinking sales and the spread of rumors that the 175-year-old equipment manufacturer might be going out of business, Maioho hopes to breathe new life into the brand and triple the market share in the first year, with an aggressive five-year plan.
“At some point in the last decade or so, Michigan became almost like a redheaded stepchild because of a poor organizational level and management,” said Maioho, regional sales manager for RPM Machinery, the Indiana and Michigan dealer for Case. “West Michigan became a black hole of sorts, and customers would have to go elsewhere for parts and service.
“One of the strongest brands in the Midwest went from a large market share to almost nothing.”
Maioho was hired when Indianapolis-based Hageman Group had purchased RPM and saw the need to reinvest and capture the Michigan market with Case’s strong heritage in the region. Case makes equipment ranging from small skid loaders for agricultural clients to large loaders used in gravel pits and “anything that moves dirt.”
The new ownership of the dealer network in addition to new management at Case saw a sales network that made their eyes widen, Maioho said, as he explained more than 1,400 heavy equipment machines were financed last year in Michigan, with very little coming from Case. Those sales don’t include machines bought with cash, he said.
With the construction market in West Michigan booming and no real signs of slowing soon, Maioho said the time is right. Even if the construction market slows, Maioho said road and bridge infrastructure in Michigan is in such a poor state with commitments to make improvements, sales should stay steady.
Sales also come from replacing broken down and retired equipment, not just new fleet additions, he said, so a growing construction slate isn’t necessary to keep sales rising.
“Road commissions, general contractors, just people sitting on their hands since 2008 not replacing old machines,” he said. “Case saw they weren’t involved in that, so they’ve dedicated assets, money, discounts and commitments to bring this market back to what it was for them 30 years ago.”
To start, Maioho said his focus will be to build up the share of equipment sales west of U.S. 127, with Detroit “being its own issue.” He said the first step will be to reintroduce the brand with “orphaned customers.”
“They want to buy these products again,” he said. “The water is warm for that to happen, we’ve just done a poor job of handling it for a long time.”
Working out of a few-year-old building in Dorr, in a stretch of big equipment dealerships, Maioho said he will expand the sales, service and staff to better service clients. Then in the coming years, as he expands sales efforts south of Kalamazoo, into Lansing and north to Traverse City, he hopes to open several more dealerships.
Maioho expects employees to become involved in the communities they serve, such as his involvement in various groups promoting minority contractors, Associated Builders and Contractors and as a commissioner on the Grand Rapids Vital Streets Oversight Commission.
Maioho said he met frequently with Case ownership before taking the job and now has plans for a steep increase in market share capture.
“I have a detailed personal plan with a footprint the owners are on board with,” he said. “We can recapture and re-grow this market share.”
A strong construction economy should be good for every party involved, Maioho said.
“If the market falls flat and we go back to 2008 when Michigan went from 1,000 machines sold to three, it’s tough on everyone,” he said. “We’re at the bottom of the totem pole, but we’re tied into everything else.”