"Helping customers find innovative and economical ways to keep machines working isn't just good business," said Larry O'Neill, Patten's general manager. "It's part of Patten's DNA as a company. Helping to keep the environment clean is also part of Patten's mission.
"We realize we need to be stewards ourselves: our children and our grandchildren need to have clean air to breathe in the future," O'Neill said. "It's great to sell a machine and the parts and service, but if we're not a proactive partner then we're really not doing what's needed today and in the future.
"Patten increased its efforts to help customers deal with changing emissions standards about two years ago," O'Neill said. "The move reflected a core Patten philosophy: The dealership doesn't consider itself strictly as a vendor, but as a partner."
As such, Patten strives to identify possible challenges and outline solutions for its customers.
Much of Patten's staff time is spent making sure customers are aware of the emissions changes that are either coming or being contemplated and what those mean to their businesses.
"If you're aware of it, and it's part of your planning, when anything does occur in regulations, our customers are going to be well prepared and educated about their options and opportunities," O'Neill said. "When you look at problems and challenges, you usually see opportunities at the same time. You just have to have a positive attitude that there's something good in everything that occurs."
Garrett Patten, dealer principal and general manager of construction products, agreed with O'Neill believing "we're all aboard the same ship here and we're trying to navigate the economic waters that are pretty rough right now. We keep asking ourselves, 'Where can we make a difference for our customers?'"
Both men considered the government funding a "win-win-win" situation for everyone: It helps the customer update their fleet, helps the dealership keep its staff working and it's helping improve air quality in the region.
"If we look at the fact that during these economically challenging times, we're taking three unregulated machines, bringing them up to Tier III standards - and at the same time we also have 10 more technicians in our shops that have jobs - that's a real bonus," Patten said. "For Dan Plote, these wheel loaders will run cleaner and run better. Plus, the rest of each machine will be rebuilt to the point that these machines will be virtually new."
One study estimated that the stimulus funding aimed at diesel retrofits would likely generate approximately $6 of increased economic output for every $1 of federal funding. This economic impact is likely to be greatest in the auto parts manufacturing and heavy-duty truck manufacturing sectors, which have sustained job losses more than seven times the national rate.
"The funding has been a huge success for Chicagoland and we hope we see more of it in the future," Patten said. "We're thrilled that we can keep our technicians working and at the same time they're working on projects that have a positive effect on the environment, while also reducing the costs of our customers, which allows them to be more competitive in the marketplace."