The picturesque beaches of northwest Florida and southern Alabama are the focal point of tourism in the region.
But as tar balls began washing up on beaches last spring after the Gulf Oil Spill in Louisiana, the pride residents felt about the region’s most valuable natural resource turned to concern. Residents closely watched media coverage of the spill and paid close attention to weather reports.
Kingline Equipment found a way to respond positively to the disaster. Summer King, Kingline’s day-to-day manager, navigated the confusing bureaucracy surrounding the cleanup effort and sold 25 New Holland tractors to private contractors coordinating the cleanup.
The dealership in Cantonment, Fla., accomplished this through selective advertising to the companies doing the cleanup, and staying in front of the asset management companies and governments involved.
“With this whole oil cleanup situation, the tail is wagging the dog. It’s a mess,” Summer King told Rural Lifestyle Dealer in July. “We’ve got local people who can make things happen, but you have BP in charge of this, and BP employing certain people, and it becomes very layered. But our tractors are out on the beaches.”
“It was hard to figure out who was a purchaser and who was a user, so we just stayed after everybody,” added Todd King, Summer’s husband and Kingline’s owner. “You have to get out there. If they’re going to buy equipment somewhere, we need to be in the game.”
When RLD visited Kingline last July, British Petroleum was still several weeks away from bringing the ecological disaster under control. Utility vehicles, tractors and other equipment could be seen at up and down the beaches near Pensacola.
Under the watchful eye of the National Park Service, tractors and construction equipment were turning up the sand and so work crews could fish out tar balls. UTVs were used to transport authorities who were monitoring cleanup activities and beach conditions.
Summer made a bold promise to get the tractors delivered to contractors quickly. That meant Kingline had a week to gather 25 tractors from dealerships around the U.S. — some of them having just received the machines for inventory.
Both a trucking company and Kingline picked up the tractors, and employees worked overtime to get them prepped and outfitted with the right equipment.
The Kings feel persistence is the main reason Kingline got the contract. “And it taught our salesmen a valuable lesson: Just take everything seriously,” Todd adds. “You never know what something is going to turn out to be. If you’ve got a lead, you follow it through.”