“SmartEquip is a company that provides software solutions to the equipment industry that drive shop, procurement and e-commerce efficiency,” explained Ron Piccolo, executive vice president of sales and marketing for the Norwalk, Connecticut-based company.
The company’s software is unique because it provides a multi-brand parts library combined with a point-to-point procurement system, acting as “the conduit that facilitates the transaction between the equipment owner and the OEM or dealer,” Piccolo said.
“What SmartEquip does for fleet owners is a game changer. Through our agreements with over 350 manufacturers and suppliers across the globe, we have taken all of the parts diagrams and support manuals and brought them into one place,” he said. “So if you’re an owner of multiple brands of equipment across multiple locations, rather than having to keep all that – all the parts manuals, operator manuals and service manuals – updated and accurate, we deliver it all in a standardized format to each authorized user through a single sign-on, so you can access everything you need on one screen instead of having to have multiple logins with multiple portals. The end result is an enormous improvement in efficiency. We typically see the time it takes to identify and order a part reduce from an average of 40 minutes without our software to less than 10 minutes utilizing our software. The accuracy of the orders is also improved, which leads to an increase in utilization.”
What SmartEquip doesn’t do, however, is impede the relationship between manufacturers, dealers and equipment buyers.
“We value relationships,” Piccolo said. “Initially when we introduce our company to people who have not heard of SmartEquip, they get concerned that we’re going to take over the buying relationship, but we don’t.”
Piccolo also wants to make it clear that SmartEquip is not the Amazon for parts. “We’re not, because we’re not an open network,” he said. “What we do is connect the manufacturers and the dealers directly to the customers; and we embed their parts and their support information into their customers’ workflow. So rather than saying here’s a part, buy it for as cheaply as you want from across any of these suppliers, we connect the customer directly to the dealership.”
Each SmartEquip customer gets a secure login to the company’s software where they can peruse manufacturers’ manuals and are routed to the content that they need. The software is an adaptive, responsive design, so it works on a phone, tablet or desktop computer.
“You’re always in the SmartEquip environment,” Piccolo said. “We’ve built integrations in the background with the manufacturer, so we are delivering to the customers the manufacturer’s information and the dealer’s information. We don’t take ownership of the transaction at any time. We don’t buy the parts, we don’t sell the parts. We don’t mark up the parts. Our role is to make sure customers get the right part for the right machine at the price the customer and dealer have agreed upon.”
Founded 18 years ago by Alex Schuessler, a co-founder of Caterpillar Rental Services Network, and other equipment industry veterans, SmartEquip originally targeted the larger rental fleet market.
“We started off with very large fleets because that’s where the value proposition was,” Piccolo said. “For United Rentals or Sunbelt, to manage all of this content across multiple locations with hundreds of brands was a nightmare.”
The company has since ventured “down market” to contractors and smaller fleets. “We’ve made it very affordable for fleets of all sizes to utilize the software and get on board,” Piccolo said. “The product really creates efficiency from parts identification all the way to payment of the invoice. We have also introduced e-commerce software so dealers can support their customers online.”
Today, the company employs 60 people and is still led by a management team that comes from the equipment industry. “We are former dealers and rental equipment people so we understand the importance of parts sales to dealerships,” Piccolo said. “It’s a high-margin business that is extremely important to the health and success of the dealership. When we develop new products we always make sure we are delivering value to our OEM and dealer partners. We want to make sure that we support the relationship between the customer and the dealer. We don’t want to get in the way of that. We simply want to provide the mechanism that allows the dealer to get the order when the customer needs a part – period.”