MacKinnon Equipment & Services

A 32-year turnaround still going strong
Written by: 
Molly Shaw
Produced by: 
Ian Nichols

When A.D. “Sandy” MacKinnon purchased a twice-bankrupt Yale Materials Handling factory store in Tampa in 1982, he took a huge risk by draining his lifesavings, sacrificing nearly everything he had to get the company off the ground again. Fortunately, through hard work and customer-driven service, MacKinnon Equipment & Services (MacKinnon Equipment) has climbed from zero to a multimillion-dollar company and is still going strong 32 years later.

MacKinnon entered the industry in 1964 as a territorial salesman for a Yale factory store in Detroit, before the lift truck and warehousing equipment supplier had privately-owned distributors. MacKinnon quickly climbed the company ranks, eventually landing a management position in Yale’s Detroit store, one of 12 nationwide locations at the time.

Mr. Fix-it

One of his first major undertakings with Yale was to pull a Baltimore-based factory store out of financial hardship. With success, MacKinnon went on to do the same in Miami and Philadelphia.

In 1978, he was promoted to Yale’s North American national sales manager, but by 1982, MacKinnon was ready to return to his dealership roots as Yale decided to privatize the factory stores and form distributorships. Taking on a bit of a gamble, MacKinnon spearheaded the transition with the Tampa-based store in 1982, truly putting his “Mr. Fix-It” skills to the test.

One of the first moves MacKinnon made was to diversify the company’s offerings, supplementing the Yale line with other products besides forklifts. Today, MacKinnon Equipment sells, services and rents Genie aerial lifts, Taylor-Dunn commuter vehicles, Factory Cat floor cleaning equipment, Tico yard spotters, Princeton lift trucks, as well as Sellick forklifts and Utlev forklifts, among numerous other heavy equipment product lines.

MacKinnon Equipment now operates five dealership locations spanning Florida and Georgia with close to 150 employees. All five of the company’s locations boast award-winning customer service and sales teams, factory-trained technicians and field technicians who service the greater Tampa, Sarasota, Orlando, Fort Myers, Naples, Ocala, Daytona Beach, Jacksonville, Fla., markets, as well as Macon and Albany, Ga.

A new name, same commitment

While Yale has been the backbone of the dealer’s existence for the last 30 years, MacKinnon decided to rebrand the company several years ago. “Since I purchased the Tampa dealership in 1982, the Yale name has been a big part of our brand,” explains MacKinnon. “My entire career has been devoted to promoting the Yale brand in some way or another, but April 1, 2011, I decided to put my name on the company, officially changing the name to MacKinnon Equipment. The new name does not affect our product line coverage or polices or our independent, family ownership. It just better reflects where we’re headed and the diversity we now offer.”

“We’re now into our third year of the transition and it’s going extremely well,” adds MacKinnon. “All of our product lines are now under the MacKinnon Equipment umbrella and it works well.”

Most recently, the company added JCB construction equipment (JCB) to its extensive product line up, including skid steers, backhoe loaders, excavators, telehandlers and compactors. “We’re also the new ag dealer for JCB, as well,” reveals MacKinnon. “Agriculture is a huge industry in Florida, first is tourism, but then there is a big agricultural market, which some people don’t realize.”

“We’d eventually like to be at about $50 million in JCB alone, with a 10 percent market share goal,” adds MacKinnon. “But it’s hard work, people aren’t sitting on their doorstep waiting for you to show up; it takes time and persistence, but if you keep on keeping on, eventually you’ll get there.”

It comes back to culture

In rejuvenating a once failing company and restoring it with new products, MacKinnon says developing a strong company culture has been pivotal to success. “Everything we do is about people,” he stresses. “We’re a family-oriented company and that reflects in our culture; how we’ve developed as individuals and how we treat one another, our expectations and the dialogue in which we communicate.”

MacKinnon conducts extensive annual reviews with all employees at least once a year. “Our people know where they stand with us, because our relationships with them are very important to us,” he shares. “We have a core management team of about 30 people and it’s a winning team. We’ve won all kinds of awards, but it’s these hardworking individuals who have earned them. We might not be the biggest in the business, but I’d put our people up against just about anyone.”

Although the name has changed, the dealership’s commitment to delivering an outstanding experience backed by diverse products and service remains the same, netting MacKinnon Equipment & Services a rock-solid reputation for 32 years and counting.

Strategic Partnership(s): 
Taylor Dunn