Scott Equipment celebrates 75 years of customer and community service
Scott Equipment has been in business 75 years, and as the company looks back on its history, two themes become apparent over the years of change and growth: its commitment to customers and its commitment to the community.
In 1939, Scott Truck and Tractor opened its doors with 10 employees, including founder Tom Scott and his wife Mayme. Seventy-five years later, the company now called Scott Equipment employs over 500 people focused on Mr. Scott’s motto, “People are important.”
“A lot has changed over the last 75 years, but our commitment to customers remains a constant,” said Scott Cummins, President, Scott Equipment Company and Tom Scott’s grandson. “Our business has been built on service to our customers and service to the communities in which we’re located. We realize our customers are the biggest asset we have.”
To celebrate this milestone, Scott Equipment hosted an Open House on Friday, October 10. Over 150 employees, customers, vendors and manufacturers joined Scott at their corporate headquarters traveling from everywhere from down the street in Monroe to as far away as Japan.
No matter the economic conditions, Scott Equipment has grown by focusing on what customers need through changing times.
“My grandfather built a thriving company by paying equal attention to the big picture for company growth and the smallest details of our customers,” Cummins said. “With a narrowed focus, we’re better positioned to help our customers and our company grow.”
Scott Equipment began as an International Harvester (IH) farm equipment and motor truck distributor. During World War II, “We sold anything we could, including appliances,” Mr. Tom Scott would say. In 1965, the company became the North Louisiana distributor for IH Construction Equipment. In 1974, Scott Equipment purchased General Equipment of South Louisiana.
At times, the company has sold insurance, automobiles, logging equipment, and refrigeration equipment. It has provided sales, service, parts, and lease and finance options to the farming, construction, oil field, government, and chemical industries. Earlier this year, the company transferred ownership of its agricultural division to Progressive Tractor & Implement in order to focus on construction equipment, material handling, and cranes.
“It’s evolved as the times changed,” said Jim Bershen, CEO, who joined the company in 1957. “All these years we’ve added lines of equipment as they became available. We’re continuing to get more focused as we move down the road.”
With corporate headquarters in Monroe, Louisiana, Scott Equipment now includes 21 locations in Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Texas as well as three Scott Van Keppel locations. Those branches represent a range of equipment manufacturers including Volvo, CASE, and Kobelco.
As Scott has grown, the company has seen and helped its customers grow as well, working together through multiple generations. “Over my lifetime I’ve seen individuals with nothing but one tractor grow into a major company,” Bershen said. “We’ve got a lot of customers out there who say, ‘Scott helped us when we were small and we’ve never forgotten it.’ We try to create a personal relationship instead of just trying to sell a piece of equipment.”
A legacy of commitment and service
In 1964, Tom Scott created the nonprofit Scott Foundation, which carries out a variety of initiatives every year.
When Scott Equipment celebrated its 50th anniversary, Betty Cummins, Chairman of Scott Equipment’s Board of Directors, and her father began a tradition of annually awarding scholarships to 4-H students selected by local 4-H agents.
The foundation initially granted one-time, $1,000 scholarships to students in 30 northern Louisiana parishes. Now the program covers all of Louisiana and the southern half of Arkansas. “Right now we’re up to 80-plus 4-H scholarships every year, and it’s been going on for 25 years,” Betty Cummins said.
Five years ago, the foundation also began awarding employees’ children $1,500 scholarships, renewable for four years. Last year that program funded 40 students. It is the foundation’s hope that this program will continue to grow as a benefit to Scott employees.
In addition, “We give every year wherever our footprint is,” said Jim Bershen, Scott Equipment’s CEO. “We make contributions to universities and hospitals, and each branch has a budget that they put back within their own community.”
According to Betty, “My mother and father always said the foundation was the best thing they ever did.” And the community has taken notice.
In 2010, the Monroe Chamber of Commerce created an awards program to honor companies making significant contributions to the economy in Ouachita Parish, Louisiana, through capital improvements, expansion, job creation, and community involvement. It named the program the Thomas H. Scott Awards of Excellence. Sue Nicholson, Chamber President and CEO, said, “The businesses recognized with this award demonstrate the principles and values that Mr. Scott embodied in his life and in his work.”
The Scott Awards are presented annually by the Chamber of Commerce, The News-Star of Monroe, and the University of Louisiana at Monroe College of Business and Social Sciences.
Betty Cummins said, “The compliment to my father was fantastic. He was an encourager. I can see him slapping the nominees on the back, just thrilled if they won or didn’t win, just that they were nominated. With all our customers, my dad was a cheerleader for whatever they were trying to do.”