James River Blog

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

New Crusher & Screener Business Capabilities

Used with permission from Construction Equipment Guide.

When James River Equipment was founded in 1977 it was known primarily as a John Deere construction machine dealership, a successful affiliation that it still enjoys to this day. As the company grew, though, it brought on other product lines, including those that support the needs of its agriculture, turf and forestry customers.

Ashland, Va– Within the past 15 years, James River also began adding material processing systems, or MPS, to its multiple showrooms in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and West Virginia. They include mobile impact, jaw and cone crushing equipment, screening plants and stackers made by Kleemann, a Wirtgen Group company.

"We have been a Wirtgen Group dealer since 2008 and continue to have Kleemann crushing and screening equipment in our rental and sales portfolio," said James River Vice President John Grantier. "Kleemann has really been the lynchpin of our MPS product offering. Their diverse product line has made us a one-stop shop for many of our contracting and quarry customers."

He explained that James River has worked hard to expand its MPS lineup and place a greater emphasis on that segment of the equipment market.

"We felt there was a need to offer smaller and larger products for the different applications our customers are engaged in," Grantier added. "Rubble Master, for one, offers a more compact line of impact crushers than Kleemann, and appeals to small contractors. Another product line we now have comes from Superior Industries, makers of wheeled portable and static crushers, screeners, conveyors and washing systems for our larger quarry customers. Ecoverse, distributors of Doppstadt trommel screens and slow-speed shredders, EcoStack stackers and Backhus windrow turners serve our environmental market."

Steps Taken to Create MPS Infrastructure

To expand the crusher and screener business, James River went out to find the best, most experienced people with MPS backgrounds — each one adept at helping customers with their MPS needs. Grantier refers to those professionals as "excellent problem solvers for our customers."

Anyone that has ever worked with James River understands that the company puts product support first, he noted. That extends to every facet of the business — sales, service, parts and rentals.

With the decision made to broaden its MPS business, James River moved to create the proper infrastructure to make it a success.

"Once we had our central MPS team in place, our top priority was to make sure our technicians were trained to work on these machines and be ready to support our customers," he said, noting the managerial staff is based at James River's Greensboro, N.C., branch, a centralized location for the company. "Anyone can sell a product the first time, but it takes technicians and knowledgeable parts people to sell it again."

The job of the MPS team members, Grantier said, is to consult with customers and examine the materials they want to process, followed by gathering data on what types of materials they are trying to produce.

"There is a machine for any application, including mulch, sand, granite, limestone, whatever it may be," he said. "We will have a solution, but it is all about the qualifying process to understand what the customer wants to achieve."

MPS Team Lends More Prestige to James River

Kevin Holdson, backed by 15 years working in the crushing and screening equipment business, serves as the manager of James River's team of MPS experts.

"He came to us with a vision of what we needed to accomplish, plus the relationships and credibility to succeed with us," Grantier said. "His priority when he joined James River was to bring on an MPS parts specialist in Ronnie Lanier, and an experienced MPS service team led by Anthony Fendley that really understands the business. Ronnie and Anthony bring instant credibility to James River as someone who understands and listens to our customers. They are driving the business for us."

The company's overall sales force is approximately 70 people strong, he added, and although some of them have various amounts of training when it comes to MPS products, Grantier said he primarily wants them to "find rental and sales opportunities, and once those opportunities arise, they will get Kevin and his team involved to follow up."

To support James River's new focus on the MPS business, Holdson implemented the use of regional customer service associates, or CSAs, who focus on the crusher/screener/stacker products. Grantier said that the dealership has a CSA in place in northern Virginia, another just west of Richmond, as well as professionals working in the Greensboro and Charlotte areas.

"There are now more team members that are checking on machines, and consulting with customers to make sure everything is running smoothly," he said. "They will do onsite inspections with an app that they have on their cellular device and, additionally, work with the James River store managers and the mainline salespeople in their area to alert them to rental opportunities."

James River's companywide inventory of crushing and screening units is well stocked, with approximately 25 of each product currently available for sale or rent. Most transactions, he said, start off as rentals before becoming sales opportunities.

Service, Parts Key Elements of MPS Business

Following a screener or crusher transaction, customers can take advantage of James River's enhanced MPS service proficiency, Grantier said, with the key upgrade being the company's hiring of more technicians with augmented training and certifications.

"We have well over 200 field trucks in the James River fleet — everything from lube trucks to full-service vehicles — and it really became critical for us to get certified trainers from Wirtgen Group to come in and conduct sessions," he said. "James River also sent many of our folks to Nashville for extra training and certification to make certain they were up to speed on servicing these machines. We already had a solid foundation as far as training, but it became a priority to get more people trained as quickly as possible to handle the [increased] MPS rental and sales activity."

James River also is stocking more MPS parts on its shelves than ever before, Grantier said, due in large part to Lanier's knowledge of the parts market.

To keep the dealership's parts capabilities at an elevated level, he said, a trio of regional hubs was created to stock MPS components to further reduce downtime for its contractor and quarry customers. Those facilities are located in Winchester and Ashland, Va., as well as in Raleigh, N.C.

"Our focus on the MPS business comes down to three things: Having product specialists that are consultants, offering excellent service after the sale, and making equipment parts readily available to keep equipment on the move," he said. "That is what our customers want."


James River Equipment, an equipment dealership specializing in construction and agriculture products, was built on the principle that partnership is the key to offering superior products and services to the regions they operate within. Combining their experience, culture, and focus on customer service has resulted in James River Equipment becoming one of the most widely respected John Deere dealers in the country. The steady growth in sales, rentals, parts, and service directly reflects the customer’s loyalty. They have also increased the variety of products to serve all customers’ varied needs and applications.

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