The Secret to AULT Equipment’s Success: Accessibility and Speedy Service
By Tina Costanza
Call Ault Equipment (“AULT”) and you’ll get a hold of a real person. Depending on which number you dialed, you may get the personal cell of Jackson Ault, the owner.
“We don’t use a lot of landlines. Everybody’s on a cellphone,” Ault explains. “If you need sales, you get your guy directly. If you need service, you call my service manager. We have phones ringing off the hook.”
It’s this accessibility that’s been a large part of the company’s success, says Ault. “That’s one of the things that puts us ahead of the competition and makes people happy to deal with us.”
With offices in Ontario and Quebec, AULT provides equipment that covers mineral and aggregate processing, composting, and waste recycling. A nod to the company came in April 2020, when McCloskey International Ltd., a screening and crushing equipment maker, appointed AULT as its official distributor for Ontario and Atlantic Canada.
The two new regions add significantly to AULT’s territory, which had been limited to Quebec.
AULT took over the Atlantic Canada market for McCloskey in January, followed by the Ontario market in March. And that’s not all: AULT will now also operate the new dealership in Ontario near the McCloskey International plant in Keene, just outside Peterborough.
“We are delighted to work with AULT to ensure that our customers across Ontario and eastern Canada continue to receive the high level of support that they expect and are used to,” John O’Neill, vice-president of sales for McCloskey International, had said in a release.
McCloskey offers a line of equipment that consists of crushers, screeners, stackers, and washing systems for the screening and crushing industry.
The partnership with AULT is timely. Growth at AULT has been fast the last 10 years, says Ault, who has hired staff — specifically service staff — to support this expansion. The company employs 30 people.
“The key to our business is to have a very good service department and we have a group of really good guys that work hard for our customers,” Ault says. “We provide specialized equipment that requires specialized knowledge and specialized service.”
That equipment includes machinery used by a range of construction segments — from aggregates and landscaping to infrastructure, environmental, and demolition. AULT also provides after-sales support and services the equipment, even sourcing certified parts as required.
In addition to McCloskey International, AULT also distributes equipment from brands recognized as leaders in the industry: MDS, Lippman, Komptech, and Superior.
The users of that equipment are, of course, AULT’S customers, who range from small “mom-and-pop” businesses to large multinationals within the private and public sectors across multiple industries, including aggregates, construction and demolition, road building and infrastructure, topsoil, and composting.
“Even at the level of multinationals there’s always a couple of faces that you get to know,” Ault says.
“We make it pretty easy to do business with us in the sense that I’m still a person that can be called around the clock. People have a more personal relationship with me. They’re really not treated as a number,” Ault says.
“When you can go right to the top decision maker to make a decision, that’s very handy. Decisions can be made quickly and directly with a customer,” he adds. “If you’ve got a problem, you have the guy to voice it to.”
Much of what the company does is last minute, so it’s important for customers to be able to quickly reach someone, as well.
“Contractors get notified at the last minute that they have a job and they need a machine from us. So we’re last second. We have to keep a big inventory. We’ve got about 75 machines that we keep on hand that we’re able to sell and rent.”
Managing his company’s growth while remaining easily accessible to customers has been a balancing act for AULT.
“There’s a sweet spot there,” Ault explains. “You’re big enough to support all customers and at the same time keep the small-business mentality — you’ve got the support but don’t want to get to the stage where you end up like a big-box, where you call in and there’s 100 prompts for you to get a human being.”
The fact the company works in a specialized field has also required AULT to foresee potential issues and remain one step ahead of them.
“You have to know the applications,” says Ault. “You have to know how the equipment works and there’s not a lot of people that are familiar with it. It’s a very, very specialized type of equipment. These are production machines, so when they stop, costs start getting incurred at a quick rate.”
Therefore, Ault makes it a point to provide a rapid parts service to ensure the machines get back up and running “yesterday.”
“If something breaks, we have to have (the solution) on hand. We have a guy ready to go. We operate, a lot of the times, a 24-hour parts service where we’d be getting parts at night. And we work closely with the factory. We maintain a huge inventory of parts so that if machines are down, we can get them back up quickly.”
Maintaining this stability and ensuring everything continues to run smoothly are AULT’s goals for the future, while it transitions to a Microsoft system in order to have an accounting system that’s more closely related to service.
“We’re making an investment in what you might call ERP (enterprise resource planning) software,” says Ault. “We’re not getting tied to the computer, but a base level system is needed to manage resources.”
Ault’s plans also include diversifying its product line into a couple of more specialized products.
“We’re going to stay in the specialized equipment business and work probably with five suppliers that will cover basically the entire domains of mineral processing and environmental applications,” says Ault, who founded AULT in 2008.
Prior to that, in his first job, Ault worked for Paschal McCloskey, founder, president and CEO of McCloskey International.
“I had initially worked in the service department for Paschal and I told him that I wanted to try sales,” says Ault. “The only available territory was Quebec, because they didn’t have any French speakers. So I went to Quebec and started selling. I got along really well with folks there so I decided to start my own business.”
It’s a business Ault describes as being very much behind the scenes.
“Some people go their whole life and never see a crushing system, but they’ll drive on roads where every stone was passed through a system,” he says. “It’s kind of an underground business and that’s what we like about it. It’s specialized, and we’re happy to be a part of it.”