Spokane Journal of Business

Two concerns build facility, expect growth

Sister ventures here provide service, sales of auto-shop equipment across country

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Two related Spokane companies that service and sell automotive-shop equipment in 43 states are building a new, expanded headquarters here and planning a push that will extend their reach into the remaining seven states by the end of the year, says Dennis Foucault, president and co-owner of both companies.


The two companies, Shop Equipment Specialists Inc. and Shop Equipment Service Inc., currently employ a combined 61 people, about 20 of whom are based here, and expect to add more employees this year, he says.


Shop Equipment Specialists sells automotive-shop equipment, such as hydraulic lifts, alignment machines, engine analyzers, emissions testers, and other diagnostic and repair devices. Shop Equipment Service, the larger of the two companies, repairs and maintains such equipment, Foucault says.


Most of the companies employees outside Spokane are based in population centers on the East Coast and in California.


We have more people in Los Angeles than we have in all of Montana, Foucault says.


In January, the two companies moved into a 4,000-square-foot office at 2602 N. Sullivan, and a 10,000-square-foot warehouse for the companies now is under construction next to the office building, he says.


Foucault says he and his wife, PJ, who together own the two companies, bought the office and land through another company they own called Hacienda LLC. When the warehouse is completed, the value of the complex will be about $840,000, he says.


Durheim Construction Inc., of Spokane, remodeled the office and is building the warehouse, which is expected to be done by May, Foucault says.


Before the move, the Shop Equipment companies had occupied a smaller warehouse-office space at 11616 E. Montgomery, and will use the warehouse there until the new structure is done, he says. The Montgomery location had roughly half as much space as the new location will.


Foucault started Shop Equipment Specialists here in January 1996 as a distributorship for Bear and Allen Testproducts brands of shop equipment, after working about 10 years in Denver for Allen Testprod-ucts Inc. Shop Equipment Specialists employed six people at first.


In 1998, SPX Corp., a Muskegon, Mich.-based company that now owns the Bear and Allen brands, asked Foucaults company to provide maintenance and repair service to automotive shops in Eastern Washington, North Idaho, and Western Montana for those two brands of equipment, Foucault says. Requests to extend that service into Western Washington, Colorado, and California came in rapid succession, followed later by agreements to service such equipment in another 38 states.


Its really taken off in the last two years, Foucault says. Service is our primary business now.


Last fall, Foucault changed the name of Shop Equipment Specialists to Shop Equipment Service to reflect the businesss focus better, and created a new sales company called Shop Equipment Specialists.


The seven states where the Shop Equipment companies currently dont have operations are targeted with expansion plans this year, Foucault says. Shop Equipment Service also currently is negotiating with several automotive-lift manufacturers with the intent of being able to offer installation and service of their lifts anywhere in the U.S. under a uniform pricing program. If those negotiations are successful, the Spokane company will hire six additional employees nationwide and is expected to have a healthy boost in revenues, he says.


Although he declines to disclose revenue figures, Foucault says he expects sales to grow 20 percent this year, pushed in large part by the anticipated new lift program.


He says he also plans to begin offering repairs of air conditioner-service equipment and is considering adding other service lines.

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