Triple D Equipment  has been around for nearly three decades, but owner Larry DeLong has never forgotten his company’s small-business roots, The West Volusia Beacon reports.

DeLong, whose business is an authorized dealer for Stihl power tools and other outdoor equipment, such as Kubota tractors and Gravely mowers, believes it is the collective power of the many small businesses in the DeLand area that led to the city winning the title of “Best Main Street” in the recent “America’s Main Streets” contest. 

Pictured Above: Larry DeLong, left, and Cody Resciniti stand in front of a display of Stihl products recently at Triple D Equipment.

The contest was sponsored by Independent We Stand, a Stihl-backed effort that focuses on independently-owned businesses and educating people on the benefits of buying locally.

Triple D was a key supporter of the contest as the only authorized Stihl dealer in the area, but DeLong said many others share the credit.

“The recognition goes to all the small businesses around here,” DeLong said. 

DeLong strives to live up to the motto coined by his mother many years ago: “A hometown feeling.” As part of that effort over the years, DeLong has quietly supported the community, such as the local FFA chapter.

“A lot of FFA kids I helped grew up and now have kids of their own, and they come into the store and visit me,” DeLong said.

He treats employees like family, even mentoring younger males who come to work for Triple D.

“During the past 26-plus years, I’ve called the younger guys my sons,” he said, although he doesn’t have any kids of his own. “I am proud of these young men and our future, and this makes Triple D Equipment ‘A Hometown Feeling.’”

Slade Smith, for instance, started at Triple D when he was in high school.

“He got his college degree while working here, and now he’s our sales manager,” DeLong said.

One of his more recent success stories is Cody Resciniti, who was 19 when he was hired a little more than two years ago. “I have known his dad, James Resciniti, and his uncle, Jason Hunt, [since] before Cody was even born,” DeLong said. “Cody was lost and dropped out of DeLand High School. He tried working jobs, but they never worked out because he was bored.”

So when DeLong and his parts manager, Jason Panton, hired Cody Resciniti, the young man was told they would help, but he would have to earn his General Educational Development (GED) certificate within a year.

Less than a year later, Cody came to work and showed off his certificate.

“You’ve got to motivate people to do better,” DeLong said. “That’s the important thing.”

For his part, the younger Resciniti said he knew DeLong meant it when he said Cody needed the GED certificate for himself, not for the company.

“It was a tremendous weight off my shoulders,” Resciniti said. “I am very proud of that achievement.”

Resciniti said his own father is one of the best he could ever ask for, but DeLong is almost like a second father.

“He treats all of us young bucks here like his own,” he said. “He’s an awesome guy.”