8 Traits of a Successful Corporate Equipment Manager

corporate equipment manager salaryThere's no overstating the importance of a corporate equipment manager in ensuring the lasting success of a construction contractor today.

Tasked with efficiently and effectively managing several different aspects of the acquisition, maintenance and operation of equipment, a corporate equipment manager is required to be a detail-oriented and organized person capable of coordinating related activities between the field and office staff. Adept at not only meeting expectations – but excelling – in a fast-paced job environment and completing tasks under tight, ever-changing deadlines, a corporate equipment manager must demonstrate advanced critical thinking and negotiation skills on a daily basis.

However, a number of certain factors determine just how successful a corporate equipment manager is at his or her role. Coordinating and directing the operations of all equipment for effective maintenance and repair programs, machine safety programs and equipment use on jobsites is no small task, and some corporate equipment managers stand out from the crowd in terms of their skills and accomplishments. With that fact in mind, here are eight habits common to people with this particular job title:

  • They possess a strong understanding of the technical aspects of their job. – It’s simply not enough for a corporate equipment manager to be able to talk intelligently about the tasks his or her employees are conducting on jobsites. The most successful not only know what their workers are doing, but also why they’re doing it. Being in possession of solid management skills can advance a person pretty far in his or her professional career, but having a strong technical understanding will help a corporate equipment manager become an effective – and respected – leader.
  • They use their different skills and their wealth of experiences to their advantage. – The days of a construction company promoting a shop manager to the role of corporate equipment manager may soon be coming to an end. If someone is on a single brand, handles a certain type of equipment, or doesn’t have a lot of experience in a certain area, he or she must need to try to find a way to gain a wider range of experience and build a well-rounded portfolio of skills. In the past, I was fortunate enough to be in a job environment where I was introduced to new roles and responsibilities every three or four years. While it wasn’t always fun for my bosses to lose me after investing a considerable amount of time and effort to train me, it benefitted the company to introduce me to different areas like tower cranes or concrete paving, for example. Ultimately, I think organizational leaders need to force themselves to think strategically about the future and focus on creating, developing and advancing well-rounded corporate equipment managers.
  • They embrace training. – The more training young manager receives, the better off he or she will be in the long run. The skills, traits and habits a person can pick up from extensive training really end up providing value. And it’s not only the direct objectives that can be gained from training, it’s also the contacts one makes that can provide important insights and information down the road. In short, training really helps solidify the success of a corporate equipment manager. Looking back, I think that’s what has really helped me advance my career, just having met the right people to call when needed.
  • They are open to new ideas. – Over the years, I know I’ve benefitted greatly from joining certain industry groups and being open to new ideas shared by others who work in equipment management. Most people don’t mind sharing their thoughts, ideas and experiences with industry peers, but it’s much more difficult to have an open mind to other perspectives. Listen to what other people have to say, and then apply it accordingly.
  • They constantly re-evaluate their business plan. – It’s not enough for a heavy equipment manager to just invest in a cutting-edge technology like telematics. A well-conceived plan for doing so needs to be developed, and approval has to be secured from the company’s ownership in order to move forward with confidence. The best approach is to annually execute a business plan with three or four large initiatives to focus on every year. Stay focused on those large items and naturally several smaller items will develop within the bigger ones. 
  • They are able to communicate. – In my role, I feel like I’m always speaking in front of a crowd. It’s critical for a leader to be able to communicate effectively up and down the ladder and be comfortable doing so. Most people can make a significant improvement by picking up a few techniques here and there when you watch how others effectively communicate, and even asking them for help. Remember, practice makes perfect, and I’m not just talking about giving presentations.  Often-overlooked opportunities to practice might be giving toolbox talks, moderating a daily department meeting, or even just reading the kids a bedtime story at night. 
  • They stay aligned with their company’s goals – The Equipment Department isan integral part of a company’s strategic planning. Having the title of corporate equipment manager means working alongside the all levels of an organization and always staying focused with company goals and objectives. These goals and objectives may vary from region, or even evolve over time. No matter what, though, equipment managers need to continue to steer the ship and stay focused on the corporate long term goals.
  • They learn from experienced industry professionals. – It’s so important to be a sponge when around older-generation workers who will soon be leaving the industry. We’ve got to learn to work with them and earn their trust, which I think the younger generations find difficult. Determine what makes experienced industry professionals tick, be willing to listen what they have to say, and put in the time and effort to learn something of value.  Those lessons learned will come in handy in the years and decades to follow.

 Ernie Stephens

Ernie Stephens is the corporate equipment manager at Superior Construction.

Superior Construction Company is a Midwest-based heavy-civil, transportation, and industrial services contractor, operating throughout North America, proudly employing a Union Labor force.


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