Today, Kirby-Smith Machinery is a top distributor of heavy equipment and cranes in the central United States as well as a full-service dealer for construction, mining, and industrial markets. Over the last three decades the company, headquartered in Oklahoma City, has grown to employ approximately 400 and has nine full-service branches in Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas. Kirby-Smith works with more than 30 manufacturers to offer a wide variety of equipment and is an authorized Komatsu dealer for Oklahoma, North Texas and West Texas.
Kirby has served in numerous construction equipment industry associations and has been active with the Association of Equipment Dealers since 1987.
For his dedication and long relationship with the foundation, Kirby will be the inaugural recipient of the Lester J. Heath, III Award, to be presented Jan. 10 at the 2017 AED Foundation Fundraising Gala at the AED Summit in Chicago.
Lester was a visionary leader who served as the first AED Foundation president in 1991. As The AED Foundation celebrates its 25th anniversary, the award honors Heath and his role in founding and shaping the foundation. The award recognizes individuals who have provided continuous dedication, support and commitment to The AED Foundation and the construction equipment industry.
"(Kirby) has been a longtime supporter of the foundation," says Rebecca Lintow, director of sales for The AED Foundation. "He uses the foundation as an educational arm of the company. He makes sure his people have skills and knowledge to be efficient managers and the tools and skills to succeed."
"At all levels of the company, from our service technicians to our managers, employees take advantage of available AED Foundation training," Kirby says. "(We continue) to put into place processes that provide our employees with many opportunities to increase their knowledge and expertise in their specific professional field."
Kirby-Smith has worked with The AED Foundation and training programs to build a better workforce. "Our company has been involved with the OSU Institute of Technology at Okmulgee since 1998," Kirby says, "and (we) are continuing to expand our presence by extending relationships to additional technical schools in Texas. We place great emphasis on the quality of skills brought into Kirby-Smith, and offering continuous training opportunities for our 400 employees is very important to both their personal and professional success and the growth and evolution of Kirby-Smith Machinery.
"A great example of (our involvement) is our on-the-job training programs for new employees. We are committed to providing the best service in the industry, and with our growth comes the need for even more high-quality, skilled employees. Better trained employees equate to additional sales and rentals, as well as better customer service."
Being involved in the foundation’s annual campaign is a no-brainer for Kirby. "For the past 33 years, Kirby-Smith has prided itself on upholding our mission of professionally serving and personally caring about our customers. In order to meet our standards of providing an exceptional customer experience, we realize that professional training is essential to our team and our customers. Through The AED Foundation training our employees have received, they have acquired new skills, learned best practices, and gathered insight from other AED member attendees. This has allowed us to better serve the needs of our customers."
Working with the foundation’s educational arm, the goal is to meet qualified staffing challenges. "Today’s equipment industry requires very skilled technicians, and finding and keeping highly qualified and trained personnel with the skills needed to be successful is a very difficult challenge today," Kirby says.
"From the first day I opened the doors of Kirby-Smith in 1983, I understood that our employees were the lifeblood of our company. The foundational training they have received through The AED Foundation is unmatched, and it is one of the primary reasons we continue to support the annual campaign each year."