In part 3 of our Top Shop series, we’re giving you a behind-the-scenes look at Robert H. Finke & Sons Inc. Equipment outside Albany, New York, whose parts and service staff have been providing us with the tips they want customers to know as well as the parts to keep on hand during the busy season.
This shining example of a Top Shop — a $10 million, 67,000-square-foot facility that opened its doors in 2014 — boasts a 16-bay space for service and repairs, an indoor paint booth, a full fabrication shop, two 10-ton overhead cranes and a hydraulic hose center.
“The expansion of the new facility has made our dealership more efficient in providing services that a small dealership couldn’t,” says Steve Micelli, service manager and warranty administrator at Finke Equipment. “Much larger bays make not only the mechanic safer, knowing he has room to move, but we can also get more equipment in for repairs. The customer is assured that his investment is in a safe, clean environment.”
The dealership had a humble beginning, however. John Finke, president of Finke Equipment, and his father, Robert, started the business in 1977 in their basement with $4,000. The pair sold pumps, generators and compactors out of their pickup truck and did small engine repairs. Several years later, they bought a few used heavy machines to rent to customers, which launched them into the construction equipment business. Having outgrown the basement and three other buildings, Finke started constructing their current facility in 2013.
Paint Booth Plus Wash and Service Bays
Finke’s new 20-by-60-foot paint booth allows the dealership to keep its rental fleet — and its customers’ machines — looking new.
“The paint booth is a terrific option for the customer who may not be able to buy a brand-new piece of equipment this year,” Micelli says. “We can resurface and repaint his equipment to not only look presentable to his customers but to increase the trade-in value.”
A wash bay cleans customers’ machines prior to service so Finke’s 17 service technicians can work more efficiently and so customers leave the 30,000-square-foot shop space with a high-functioning, spotless machine.
The new facility uses radiant heat to keep both the ceiling and the floor of the 35-foot-tall main shop at a comfortable 70 degrees during the winter months. A central Evac system drains used oil from machines being serviced and pumps it directly into a 4,000-gallon storage tank. Two clean-burning boilers then use the oil to heat the radiant floor system.
“Although the initial cost was high, we feel this was the only way to go,” says Don Fiacco, general manager at Finke Equipment. “The comfort of our technicians was one of the biggest factors in going with the radiant floor system. Gone are the days of standing or sometimes lying on a cold concrete floor all day. The cost savings and green factor associated with using oil that normally a company would pay to dispose of was another factor.”
The building’s solar panels offer the dealership even more energy savings. A flat-screen TV tracks the amount of energy the building generates, and the dealership estimates the green energy sources save the dealership $40,000 each year.
Finke Learning Center
One important feature of the new building is the learning center, which contains stadium seating that accommodates 60 people, complete with desk space. The expansive room allows the entire staff to gather in one spot for equipment and safety trainings, and tall ceilings and a bay door make it possible for the dealership to bring even heavy equipment into the space. The space also allows Finke to hold regional service and sales schools on-site, Finke Equipment service technicians take notes during a class while seated at desks inside the learning center complete with equipment walk-arounds, projection, audio, and video for enhanced learning, and to rent the room to customers so they can host their own trainings.
“Our technicians have the most advanced training right at their fingertips,” Micelli says. “We provide that training not only for our technicians but also for our customers when they buy a piece of equipment. We use this training room to educate them on how to run that equipment and how to take care of it.”
And what could be more Top Shop than that?