The Story of PIERCE 1990-2006 [Part 3]

by Connor Crumpton on 10/28/16 3:56 PM

The Story of the PIERCE history continues with a look into the 1990s -2006.

 

 Ginger Schaffner

 

1990

 

Kicking off the nineties was challenging for Pierce Sales. Not only was George and Nancy’s presence missed by the business family, but a competitor moved into the area. Twenty miles up the highway of 287 big-box stores were built in Wichita falls such as Walmart and Sutherlands. Local retail and grocery stores didn’t have the buying power to sell products at a low enough price to compete including the Pierce Local stores. Like many local store owner’s, Jeff had to close the Hardware store, Pierce Tire and Battery, and the Lumber Yard.  

However, Pierce Sales had enough diversity in products and a strong market presence in larger equipment that it remained unaffected by the big-box stores.  Jeff moved most of the employees to Pierce Sales and a few to the local stores that remained, such as the Gift Shop Jeff opened after the Hardware Store closed. One of the employees that Jeff moved to Pierce Sales was Ginger Schaffner. Jeff came into the Hardware Store to inform the employees that the store was closing. After telling the employees of other options, Jeff pulled Ginger aside to ask her to come work for him at Pierce Sales. George Pierce had spent most of his time managing the Hardware Store before he passed and grew a deep trust with Ginger. Jeff did not want to lose an employee that his dad trusted so much. Ginger accepted the request though her position wasn't finalized yet. 

When Ginger came in for her first day of work Jeff showed her to her desk that already had towers of files stacked on top. Jeff joked with Ginger that he finally figured out what she would do and found a lot of it. One of Ginger’s jobs was to create an account of inventory on a new software that Jeff bought. Early software was not very user friendly. Ginger would go home to put her new baby to bed and then come back to Pierce Sales to update inventory until 2 a.m. Jeff appreciated Ginger's commitment. In time, Ginger knew the products well enough to begin selling and customer service as well as accounting. Unfortunately, some working men in the nineties did not want to hear from a woman how to fix their winch or what part they needed to buy. It was very common for Ginger to have to give the customer to a male employee and then the male employee seek advice from Ginger as she coached him through the call. This issue only motivated Ginger to become a top saleswoman of Pierce. Ginger recalled that, “no one could pick up the phone faster than me until I hit my quota for the day.” As Ginger took on task after task, she handled many internal issues that could have possibly been detrimental to Pierce Sales in the nineties. Ginger never let Jeff’s trust down and works today as PIERCE’s general manager overseeing purchasing, accounting, warehouse and production.  On top of her many responsibilities Ginger continues to take care of customers - now when men call they prefer Ginger because she is the expert they need.  

 

PIERCE team

1990-99

 

Jeff brought on other employees in the nineties that are staples in the PIERCE company today. One was Sheri Hood who started in 1991 overseeing the accounts payable documentation. Sheri still oversees that position today. Sheri’s position is crucial and when she was having her second child in 1994 she couldn’t be as present for work. Sheri’s temporary absence led to Kathy Pierce stepping on the scene. Kathy has an accounting degree but focused on parenting her two sons, Wade and Philip, when they were born. After Kathy’s kids were old enough she did some work with a local CPA then stepped into Pierce Sales for accounting help while Sheri was out. When Sheri stepped back in, Kathy was already a part of the team so she began to help with a large role in finances. Kathy progressed to become PIERCE's CFO and remains there today.  

      As Jeff grew his team he sought to prune old products to make new ones. Diversity and flexibility have been a hallmark to Jeff’s business model – no matter the economic conditions or changes in the market, Jeff found it important to have enough product lines to sustain the company. This diversity is seen when Pierce ventured into wrecker equipment, jeep parts and remotes due to market changes. Already doing wired remotes for some time, Jeff met the founders of Lodar, an industrial wireless remote company from the UK. Jeff talked to Martin Skidmore and Tim Halford, the founders of Lodar, and made a deal to sell their remotes in the US. Lodar USA USA became a DBA under Pierce Arrow Inc. and is a large part of the PIERCE company today. Jeff recommended Alan Jackson to be the technical service and repair manager. Alan was a huge asset to Jeff back in the 80’s building bale spikes, trailers and anything else Pierce Sales made. Jeff knew that Alan was great with his hands, smart with technical issues, and had messed with radio frequencies in the past so Jeff connected Alan to Tim and Martin. In 1999, Alan took the job and still remains as the Lodar USA service manager to this day. 

The change in product line and technology opened new opportunities to market the Pierce Sales brand. For example, the Internet allowed Pierce Sales to sell to anyone around the world.  Also, towing and wrecker publications like American TowmanTow Times  and Footnotes featured a monthly Pierce catalog of equipment, remotes, winches and parts. Every month after the ads were published the phones rang. Pierce Sales continued the legacy of selling at the best price no matter the market. Also, the team began attending tradeshows in Baltimore, Orlando and Dallas to market Pierce slide-units, winches, Lodar, Dynamic wheel lifts and Minute Man wheel lifts. During the early 2000s, Pierce Sales became one of the top dealers of Dynamic wheel lifts. The partnership between Lodar and Pierce Sales continued to be profitable and beneficial. Also during that time, Pierce added to their diverse line and began manufacturing 5, 7.5 and 10 ton dump kit units for landscapers, municipalities and ranchers.  

 

pierce sales

 

2000-07

 

In early 2000, more staples to the company were hired. Chris Claeys moved from Pierce’s video rental store to the Pierce Sales shipping department. Chris worked hard and bounced between shipping and the winch shop, now he supervises both as the winch department manager. That same year, Pierce Sales was needing another person to share the beast of the accounting so Bettye Franklin was hired to manage accounts receivable and still remains in that work today. In 2004, Anthony Fairchild was hired for shipping and worked his way up. Today, he serves as PIERCE's technical service manager and new product manager. The growth in the manufacturing shops led to Rick Langford's promotion to shop foreman. Rick is now the economic development director for the city of Henrietta. The shop growth opened up an opportunity to allow PIERCE to manufacture their own line of wheel lifts. For a short time, the wheel lifts were sold around the nation. By 2007, Pierce Sales was focused on converting wreckers in their shops; building and importing winches; selling Lodar; locally converting ranch trucks and providing the best support and customer service possible.   

Through all this change, Jeff was getting older but wiser. Jeff was well into marriage and his two sons were growing up fast, soon to join the company. The passing of Jeff’s parents was overbearing but he had now gone through the hardest of its time and was ready for a new day.  With a new age of technology and culture on the rise, Jeff and the Pierce Sales team were once again prepared to stay diverse and flexible with new innovations needed to take the company to the next level. 

 

Click to read part 4 of our 4-part series.

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This post was written by Connor Crumpton