FEBRUARY 2012

A Closer Look E-mail the author

Solesbee's Equipment & Attachments
David Jenkins • 770-949-9231

If you’re in need of thumbs, Solesbee’s can take care of you. No, not those kind of thumbs – Solesbee’s manufactures attachments for OEM equipment like excavators “that enhance the utilization of the equipment,” according to David Jenkins, the company president.

Solesbee’s sells that equipment through about 250 different dealers all over the US, and Jenkins said that most of those dealers would say that Solesbee’s is the company to go to for thumbs. In fact, that was the first product the company made when it was founded in 1993, but it has since expanded to making all types of add-on equipment including scrap grapples, loader attachments, loader rakes, concrete crushers, wood shears, demolition grapples and forks.

Jenkins found his way to the equipment business through a rather convoluted route. He started off working in the grocery business doing outside sales work. He did so well in that capacity that he was promoted to work in the company’s warehouse and to do HR work.

Later, he was offered a position in human resources at a tire and rubber company, but found that he really missed working in sales. “I like the art of making deals,” he said. “I enjoy making the deal; following through on the deal.” So when the opportunity arose, he joined Solesbee’s in the sales department. “It’s easy to sell something you believe in. That’s why it’s easy to work here,” he said.

Just like the grocery business, Jenkins didn’t stay in the sales department for long. When he first started with the company, he felt like he didn’t know enough about the manufacturing to be able to do a good job selling the equipment. To learn about how the equipment was made, he spent a lot of time on the manufacturing floor during the second shift. “My curiosity drove me into more of a management role,” he said.

It wasn’t long before he was promoted to general manager, and later he started doing the buying. After the original owner of the company retired and the company was bought by investors, Jenkins became the company president.

In the 14 years Jenkins has been with Solesbee’s, he has seen the company grow from making very few products with 5 employees, to one with a wide range of products and a large distribution system. He’s also seen it struggle – like everyone else – when the economy took its dive. But business is looking up. “We had a great last year,” he said, and the company is back up to 27 employees.

Besides increasing the number of products and employees, the company has improved its processes and manufacturing systems, and has invested in a lot of equipment to manufacture its products. About 98 percent of the equipment is made in-house, with just a few parts, like nuts and bolts purchased from outside vendors.

One new challenge is getting product to customers “in a timely manner.” Jenkins said that in the beginning, it wasn’t unusual for customers to be willing to wait a few weeks for delivery, but now they expect much faster delivery. He said Solesbee’s has an advantage because they operate 20 hours per day on 2 shifts, rather than working a single shift. A product that takes 32 hours to make can be out the door in under 2 days.

Even though Solesbee’s has been in business since 1993, Jenkins said, “it’s still a young company” with a lot of potential to grow. He anticipates that business will double or triple and said, “it’s exciting watching the company grow.” To accommodate that growth, he expects that the company will move to a new, larger location, but he is committed to staying close to the current location in Douglasville, Georgia.

To help find a location, he put pins in a map to show where employees live, and he wants to make sure that any move won’t make it difficult for his employees, some of whom have been with the company as long as he has. “There’s very little turnover,” he said.

He also appreciates his customers, and no matter how big the company gets, he wants to make sure that anyone who calls will talk to a “real person” and insists that the people who answer the phone “treat everyone with Southern hospitality,” no matter what they’re calling about. “We treat people the way we would like to be treated,” he said.