Working for the Customer

Esch Construction Supply

For more than thirty years, Esch Construction Supply has provided contractors with concrete cutting solutions – but the company is more than an equipment supplier. The company’s success is a direct result of the special care it takes in learning about a customer’s needs and helping them select the right equipment for the job. It also teaches customers how to operate and maintain the equipment safely to minimize the potential for downtime and improve efficiency. Esch supplies equipment, but its true value is in helping contractors meet deadlines and stay under budget on projects.
~
When it comes to concrete cutting, the best and most reliable tools use diamond blades and bits. Esch Construction Supply carries diamond saw blades and core bits in all sizes, shapes, styles and bonds, and employees help contractors match the cutting components to their equipment.

Selecting the right tools requires a great deal of training as well as collaboration with manufacturers and metallurgists. Esch has employees in the field working with contractors to monitor the speed and quality of the cuts and the lifecycle of the products.

The roots of the company can be traced to 1948 when Otto Esch began selling hand tools to contractors on job sites around St. Paul, Minnesota, but it was in 1984 that Otto’s son Mike began to build it into the business it has become. “Mike Esch, my uncle, ran the business with his wife Helen out of their garage,” says Dan Esch, owner and president. “They built a strong following very quickly which was a testament to how hard they worked. Their brochures and business cards all said ‘twenty-four-hour service,’ and they lived that.”

In the beginning, Mike and Helen Esch did not sell any equipment at all. The focus was on building expertise in diamond tools. After some time, the company leadership realized that to offer a valued service to their contracting customers, they would need a stronger understanding of the equipment contractors were using and how it was being used in the field. Esch decided to begin supplying and maintaining that equipment and, as a result, discovered a great deal of information related to it.

Throughout the course of the company’s history, it has focused on acquiring information and applying it to help the profitability of its customers. This has set it apart from other equipment supply companies in a highly competitive marketplace.

Dan Esch joined the company in 1987 as a commissioned outside sales representative for Minnesota and Wisconsin. In 1998, Dan and his wife Elizabeth bought the business and began to accelerate its growth by adding employees and product lines, expanding facilities and adding a service department staffed with mechanics and other specialists who could assist contractors in the field. In 2012, the company doubled the size of its facility, added more customer service representatives, mechanics and inventory. In 2013, it introduced a contractor training service.

The training service was an idea developed by Esch’s marketing department, and it proved to be a successful venture for the company. Providing these courses to contractors brought the company closer to many of its customers and gave a deeper understanding of the work they do, helping it build a clear picture of customer needs.

The earliest sessions were courses on how to safely operate a saw with a diamond-tipped saw blade. These expanded into tool maintenance training, guiding field personnel in maximizing the efficiency and life of their equipment. Finally, Esch introduced a hands-on operator training course for novice workers to familiarize them with using cutting equipment.

In 2015, the company opened a new branch in Waukesha, Wisconsin, serving the Milwaukee, Madison and Chicago markets, and it has been highly successful in that region. The St Paul branch has a stunning showroom and store including a service counter where trained service technicians work with contractors, a repair department in the back with four skilled mechanics, and a warehouse with more concrete cutting, grinding and polishing equipment than anywhere else in the Midwest. It has a fleet of ten delivery trucks that has made the company famous in the region for one-and-a-half-hour deliveries. The facilities’ polished aesthetic reflects the professional service that the company provides.

Esch has a long history of stable, significant, growth and it plans to continue that with many expansions forthcoming. Currently, it employs twenty-seven people in the St Paul branch and three in Waukesha. It will soon open a branch in Denver and another in Chicago. Six other locations are planned for the future.

Esch is built on service, team, growth and solutions. “We live to wow our customers through our commitment to service,” says Mandy Bastyr, marketing leader at Esch. “We’re team-focused, everybody working together, rowing in the same direction. We want our team members to grow as individuals, to get better at the things that are important to them and to get better at their jobs. We want our company to grow as well and hit its goals. And solutions − there’s always a way to do things better, to find an answer. We focus on finding that solution.” The Esch team lives by this set of principles.

The company has a sincere respect for its workforce and recognizes and rewards their achievements. The culture of collaboration encourages the entire team to be invested in the success of the company. Everyone works together, sharing the sense of accomplishment that comes with doing quality work.

“The way we communicate our company vision to our employees is really key to our success.” says Esch. “It’s done through weekly department meetings and quarterly companywide meetings, where we share the vision of where we’re heading and how everyone’s role fits into achieving that. That’s something that our employees appreciate.”

The company goes even further to keep the work stress-free and productive. Esch has a committee that develops leadership and team building exercises and brings an element of fun to the workplace. “Employees drive that committee, and I think that’s been the success of it,” says Esch. “They get a budget, and they get to do what they want with it. There isn’t a manager in a high tower telling them what to do.”

Additionally, the company has an employee-driven program dedicated to charitable efforts including clothing and food drives, assisting with programs to provide housing and independent living to the developmentally disabled and much more. The result of these efforts is an environment where creativity thrives and a workforce in which every employee is invested in success.

Recently, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) introduced a new standard related to containing silica dust. This standard presented a challenge to contractors, but Esch rallied to become a go-to destination to help its customers follow the regulations. The silica standard is a complex, information-dense document, but Esch worked to understand it fully so that it could help customers in finding the right equipment solutions to fit into their operation.

“It’s the exceptional service,” says Esch. “It’s knowing our customer − that’s the key.”

Building the Next Generation

As thousands of experienced workers retire across North America every day, it is small wonder many industries are concerned about the future. It has been a decade since the oldest members of the baby boom generation started leaving their jobs, removing from the workplace decades of experience and skills that are tough to replace. The situation is so dire that, when younger workers are not available or knowledgeable enough to take over, retired staffers are often called back to work on a part-time basis.

November 14, 2019, 10:15 AM EST