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Construction Equipment Dealer Job Description, Career as a Construction Equipment Dealer, Salary, Employment

Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

Education and Training: Varies—see profile

Salary: Varies—see profile

Employment Outlook: Varies—see profile

Definition and Nature of the Work

Construction equipment dealers sell or rent trucks, cranes, bulldozers, cement mixers, pile drivers, and other equipment to the contractors of construction jobs. They help contractors find the right machines for the job as well as help manufacturers sell their machines. Dealers must be very familiar with the different machines and methods of construction.

Some dealers may specialize in a particular brand or type of equipment, such as road-building machinery. Others may handle the products of several companies and sell whole ranges of equipment, including hand tools, air compressors, power lifts, and asphalt rollers. Most dealers have some form of service department.

Many dealers are independent and have their own sales agencies or dealerships. Dealers usually have a franchise agreement with one or more manufacturers. In a franchise agreement, the dealers own the equipment, the building, and the surrounding property, all of which are supplied by the manufacturer. This is a considerable financial investment, so dealers must be capable salespeople as well as good business managers. They manage the company's finances, including inventory, overhead, and advertising or marketing. Dealers also must manage a team of salespeople to sell and rent the equipment.

Education and Training Requirements

There are no specific educational requirements for becoming a construction equipment dealer. However, a high school diploma is recommended. Courses in business, mathematics, accounting, public speaking, and English help to develop financial and communication skills. Other courses, such as shop, mechanical drawing, and the sciences, may be helpful in understanding how construction equipment works.

Technical schools and community or junior colleges offer courses in business law, construction methods, engineering, psychology, sales methods, and business and sales management. These courses develop skills and increase a dealer's chances of success.

One of the best ways to further prepare for a career as an equipment dealer is to become a salesperson. Dealers provide on-the-job training about selling techniques that work in the industry and about the different types of equipment. Equipment manufacturers may offer training sessions to salespeople to introduce new machinery. Work as an equipment repairperson or in one or more of the building trades will also be useful for future equipment dealers.

Getting the Job

There are a number of ways to enter this field. Some future dealers begin in the service and parts department of an established dealership. Many others begin as equipment salespeople. They learn about the machines, about organizing and managing a dealership, and about the entire construction industry. It is possible to advance from salesperson to assistant sales manager, to sales manager, and to general manager.

Job seekers should contact local dealerships. They are listed in the Yellow Pages under "Contractors' Equipment—Rented" or "Contractors' Equipment and Supplies." The sales manager will know about job openings. Sales managers usually prefer to hire those who are well rounded, sociable, and able to communicate clearly and knowledgeably. A potential salesperson should also be well groomed, confident, and determined.

Equipment manufacturers may also know about sales jobs. State employment services, newspaper classified ads, and job banks on the Internet may also provide job leads. A sales position in a related area, such as automobiles, hardware, or construction materials, would provide experience that could lead to a job with a construction equipment dealer.

Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook

Dealers own their businesses, so advancement is usually in the form of increased sales and higher profits. They may also expand their businesses. Generally, when the economy is strong and construction is in demand, there are more opportunities. Also, the type of equipment sold at the dealership can make a difference. There is almost always a market for power saws and drills, for example, but not for the heavier equipment, such as bulldozers and cranes.

Working Conditions

Dealers spend most of their time at the dealership supervising salespeople and office staff and meeting with customers and suppliers. They may spend only part of their time in heated and air-conditioned offices. The rest of the time they may be outdoors on the lot, showing customers the equipment for sale or rent. Because they are independent businesspeople, dealers often work more than a forty-hour week.

Where to Go for More Information

Associated Equipment Distributors
615 W. Twenty-second St.
Oak Brook, IL 60523
(800) 388-0650

North American Building Material Distribution Association
5261 Paysphere Circle
Chicago, IL 60674
(312) 321-6845

American Road and Transportation Builders Association
1219 Twenty-eighth St. NW
Washington, DC 20007-3389
(202) 289-4434

Earnings and Benefits

It is not uncommon for a talented salesperson to earn up to $30,000 in the first year. However, it is difficult to describe the average earnings of a dealer, because earnings depend on many different factors. The economic conditions in the country as well as in the dealer's area are major factors affecting the amount of construction. Most dealers earn commissions, which are percentages of the selling prices of the equipment. They usually buy their buildings, and they must pay their employees and other overhead costs. Dealers must be able to build up a list of satisfied customers and motivate their salespeople. In general, those who have the most knowledge of the machinery, the best management skills, and the best selling techniques will be the most successful. Dealers must provide their own life and health insurance, pension plans, and other benefits.

Additional topics

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesConstruction & Skilled Trades