Taking Care of Business – Westerra Equipment
“This starts with providing customers the right equipment solutions to meet their needs so they can maximize productivity,” says Dhar Dhaliwal, CEO. “We follow up with great service and support.”
Westerra Equipment has a large and diverse customer base. It serves customers in the construction, forestry, landscaping, agriculture and logistics industries throughout the entire province of British Columbia. The company is able to do this through four locations in Abbotsford, Nanaimo, Victoria, and Kamloops. This is in addition to its sister company – Williams Machinery – which also has four locations in Surrey, Kelowna, Prince George and Terrace.
Wesgroup Equipment has two divisions. Westerra Equipment sells and services compact- and heavy-construction equipment. Williams Machinery specializes in material-handling equipment.
The company sells, rents and services equipment brands such as Bobcat, Doosan Heavy, Vermeer, Ammann, Trailtech and SherrillTree. Westerra Equipment has distribution rights throughout British Columbia for these brands.
“These are our primary construction equipment lines, but through our dealer network we’re able to provide a great range of additional premium products,” Dhaliwal says.
Elements to success
Many factors make a company successful. Asked what makes Westerra Equipment successful, Dhaliwal listed five main elements.
- Having the right people in the right roles
- Having a clear focus
- Rallying around common goals and objectives
- Sharing the company’s strategy throughout the organization
- Having a values-based culture
“Our culture is one in which our people have each other’s backs and work together to win,” Dhaliwal says. “Every person at Westerra Equipment knows they have a voice and an opportunity to contribute to the company’s success,” he adds.
But finding trained tradespeople is a challenge.
“British Columbia is one of the tightest labour markets in Canada and as the talent pool for tradespeople becomes scarce, we must continuously refine our programs to attract and retain the best people,” Dhaliwal says. “We’ve worked hard to shape our employee practices and programs.”
Westerra Equipment trains and coaches its team members. Sales, service, parts and administration team members have access to training from manufacturers in their respective job areas. They also receive in-house training, soft-skill training and online training.
“We encourage our team members to learn and grow,” Dhaliwal says.
Among the training programs are those for technician apprentices and the sales team.
The company is registered with British Columbia’s Industry Training Authority to sponsor apprentices. The apprentices are enrolled in a four-year program to earn their red-seal certification as heavy-duty service technicians. From 2014 to 2017, Westerra Equipment employed 35 apprentices. It currently has 15 apprentices on its team. The company also sponsors parts-department employees who seek parts certifications.
The sales team receives product training and other soft-skill training internally and from manufacturers. Sales-skills training is provided by an outside consultant who helped develop the G.R.I.T. Solutions Builder Sales Process. Westerra Equipment’s employees receive training in customer-service skills through the Customer Experience Skills workshop.
G.R.I.T. was developed five years ago based on customer feedback. The feedback indicated what customers most desire is G.R.I.T. The acronym stands for:
- Great range of products and services
- Relationships – having strong relationships with customers
- Impact to the customer’s bottom line is considered when providing recommendations and solutions
- Timeliness – products and services are provided in a timely manner
Westerra Equipment also incorporated G.R.I.T. into its employee-recognition program. It presents monthly G.R.I.T. awards to employees who have gone above and beyond in helping customers and fellow employees. Employees are nominated by their peers. The awards are gift cards and company swag. Monthly winners are eligible for the annual True G.R.I.T. award, which includes a trip-for-two to a warm, sunny destination such as southern California. A four-night stay covers airfare, lodging and select team activities.
“We recognize our people for providing exceptional experiences to our customers or to each other and doing so within our values,” Dhaliwal says.
That program and the company’s culture have helped Westerra Equipment be named to “British Columbia’s Top Employers” list as well as “Canada’s Best Managed Companies” list for the past two years.
What lies ahead for Westerra Equipment?
“We’ve experienced steady growth year over year, and plan to continue doing so,” Dhaliwal says. “We’ve built a strong foundation on which to expand.”
Westerra Equipment is opening in 2019 two new purpose-built facilities in Nanaimo and Abbotsford as part of its ongoing effort to meet the needs of its customers and to manage the growth of its business.
Written by Lynn Grooms
Lynn Grooms is an agricultural journalist living in Mt. Hoerb, Wis.