Living the dream
In 1957 William L. Baker (Bill) founded Southeastern Equipment Company and began selling motor grader blades to townships and counties for Shunk Equipment Company. He received his first load of inventory on a promise, loaded up his pickup truck, and hit the road to start selling. Bill’s wife, Nancy, was Southeastern’s first bookkeeper, maintaining handwritten records in massive ledger books.
Bill placed the utmost importance on establishing trust and lasting relationships with his customers – qualities that aided Bill in establishing Southeastern’s foundation in small and large townships.
Within a year, Bill acquired the Adam Motor Grader Company franchise agreement for southeastern, Ohio. Shortly after, Southeastern began its franchise with J.I. Case Company – shaping the future of Southeastern as a construction equipment company.
The first location, a small Quonset hut, was in Old Washington, Ohio near Bill’s childhood home. As the business grew, Bill hired his first employee, Clyde Milligan, a service technician who worked alongside Bill for many years.
Growing with Purpose
In 1964, Southeastern constructed its first new building which still serves as the headquarters in Cambridge, Ohio. Within 10 years of the new location, Southeastern was ready to expand to a second location in Gallipolis, Ohio.
After establishing Gallipolis in 1972, three more branches were added in Ohio: North Canton, Burlington, and Monroe (along with a Florida division in the 1970’s). Bill frequently traveled to each branch, ensuring his core beliefs of customer service and trust weren’t forgotten.
As the company continued to grow, Bill positioned each new location to provide saturated customer coverage for service and sales. Through careful oversight, Southeastern sustained close relationships with customers and maintained a reputation as the preferred equipment dealer.
Today Southeastern’s 225 employees proudly serve 18 locations in Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, and Michigan. The company has received accolades as the largest privately owned Case dealer in the world and largest Kobelco dealer in the United States. Southeastern still stays true to its customer-focused philosophy by offering more than 30 lines of equipment to fit all equipment needs.
Bill continues to place great importance on well-trained employees to create an informed customer experience. In 2002, Southeastern developed an 8,000 square foot training center in Cambridge, Ohio equipped with a 200+ person classroom, boardroom, and large shop bays. The facility aims to train employees and customers on a wide variety of heavy construction equipment.
From Southeastern’s first employee to it’s current 225, Bill’s core qualities of trust and lasting relationships are still found in each Southeastern employee. They care about the customer and look forward to providing the best equipment experience each and every time.