Puckett Machinery hits 25-year milestone in December

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Published: October 22,2007

Puckett Machinery Company, which will celebrate its 25th year in business this December, has earned one of the largest market shares of any Caterpillar dealership in the nation. The Jackson-based company has not achieved this through high-flying marketing campaigns or gimmicks, but rather a throw-back business philosophy, according to president and CEO Richard Puckett.

“In our company, we have four core values,” says Puckett. “The first of those four values we hold highly is integrity. Second is excellence. Third is teamwork, and our fourth is commitment. ‘Customer satisfaction’ and ‘ethics’ are not just buzzwords around here.

“Our business, right now and as we move into the future, depends completely on how we conduct ourselves, how we do business and how well we meet — and exceed — the expectations our customers have of our company, our products, our services and our people.”

Fathers and sons

Puckett Machinery is not only privately owned, it is a family affair, and while the company may be celebrating its 25th anniversary, it traces its roots back to the 1940s. Originally located in downtown Jackson, the Caterpillar dealership moved to its present location on U.S. 80 in 1942.

In 1953, Ben Puckett joined the company as an accountant after serving in the U.S. Air Force. In 1962, Puckett, along with two partners, bought the company.

Since then, Puckett Machinery has seen steady growth both in the number of operations and Puckett family owners and senior management. Ben Puckett became sole owner of the company in 1982, and Richard Puckett was named president in 1988. In 1994, Ben sold the company to his sons, Richard, John and Ben. (In 2005, Richard’s son, Hastings Puckett, bought the majority of the stock of Ben and John and was named vice president of sales.)

Today, Puckett Machinery offers Caterpillar equipment sales (new and used), equipment rental and service and parts as well as a wide array of support services. It also sells and supports Blount timber harvesting and processing equipment that includes Prentice and CTR products.

Puckett has grown into a family of operating units. The company’s rental business, Puckett Rents, carries a broad assortment of products and services for contractors, including new and used equipment rental, new Cat Compact Construction Equipment sales and a selection of contractor supplies.

Puckett Power Systems provides custom power solutions for electric power generation, industrial, petroleum, marine and truck applications.

Puckett Machinery and Puckett Power has locations in Jackson, Gulfport, Natchez, Meridian, Hattiesburg and Brookhaven. Puckett Rents has operations in Madison, Richland, Hattiesburg and Biloxi.

The company’s customer base is as diverse as its offerings. Puckett companies serve everyone from contractors and subcontractors to loggers and foresters and to oil and gas producers to hoteliers.

Annual sales are $260 million, making it one of Mississippi’s largest privately-held businesses, and it employs approximately 400 workers.

Moving on

Growth has been ongoing at Puckett Machinery. In June 2006, the company cut the ribbon on a 38,000-square-foot primary service center and renovated office space addition to Puckett Machinery’s 25-acre site on U.S. 80 East in Jackson, the same site it has occupied for more than 60 years. It also included 5,800 square feet of space for training and a technical center. The total capital investment of the project was $4 million.

The following month, the company opened a new Engine Division facility, located just across U.S. 80 from the company’s headquarters. It now serves as the hub of Puckett Power.

“Our engine and generator business has continued to grow, and we’re very pleased with how that facility is working for us,” Puckett says.

These projects represented phase one and two of an envisioned three-phase expansion. Unfortunately, phase three has been postponed.

“Phase three includes a major renovation of existing buildings along with many other property improvements,” he says. “I’ve placed this phase of our expansion on hold for the past 12-14 months in order to work out some issues with the City of Jackson, allowing them to fulfill some of their commitments to us there. When those commitments have been met, we’ll be able to finalize our Jackson expansion project. We’ve got big goals and are eager to complete our expansion as soon as possible.”

Puckett is adamant that phase three is simply on hold, not dead. He hopes to work out a solution with the city, and wants to stay on U.S. 80. The location offers many advantages, and Puckett is hopeful a compromise can be reached.

In the mean time, Puckett Machinery and family are moving on. Puckett says his optimism for tomorrow has not been diminished.

“Puckett Machinery Company’s vision is to be recognized as the dominant heavy equipment, rental services and engine supplier in the State of Mississippi,” Puckett says. “It has always been our singular goal to be the leading provider of construction equipment, rental services and product support in Mississippi.

“In our company, looking forward into the future is an exciting thing to do. We’re always trying to figure out how to more completely serve our customers. We constantly challenge ourselves to create and deliver more value. Over our 25 years in this business, I believe we’ve continually done just that. Looking forward, I have every intention of continuing that tradition of raising the bar. I know we’re up to the task, and that makes the future look pretty exciting to me.”

Contact MBJ staff writer Wally Northway at northway@msbusiness.com.

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