Dyke Messinger

In November of 2017, AEM announced Dyke Messinger, president and CEO of Power Curbers Inc., was the latest inductee into the AEM Hall of Fame, which recognizes and celebrates outstanding individuals in the off-road equipment industry.

Through focusing on research and development, customer service and support, and diversification, Messinger took Power Curbers from a small regional manufacturer to a major global player in the concrete paving industry. Active within the industry, Messinger also has served in leadership positions for both the AEM and the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM).

To commemorate his recent induction, Messinger recently spoke with AEM and answered a few questions about the state of equipment manufacturing, issues and priorities of great significance for the industry, and what motivates him and keeps him passionate about working in manufacturing today.

AEM: You’ve been a fixture in the industry for decades. You’ve seen great times, tough times and everything in-between. What are your overall feelings about the state of the equipment industry right now?

Messinger: The equipment industry is healthy again, and it needs to be healthy in order to advance it forward. It’s interesting, because in times like this, where commercial and residential construction is strong, infrastructure work is strong, and the international marketplace is strong, we don’t see companies buying nearly as much new equipment like they did prior to the financial crisis. Instead, they are doing everything they can to make their machinery last longer, they are putting more hours on machinery, and they are being incredibly cautious when it comes to evaluating their purchasing decisions. That’s tremendous for us as an industry, because when we do experience a downturn, it’s not going to be as dramatic as a decade ago. In addition, the demand for infrastructure development worldwide is huge, and it presents real opportunities for all manufacturers worldwide. American construction machinery has always been one of the leaders in the world, so I think the state of the equipment industry is excellent right now.

AEM: What are some issues you feel are of significant importance to equipment manufacturers today?

Messinger: We really have an infrastructure crisis in our country. Consider it this way: the efficiency of the U.S. infrastructure system is no different than the efficiency we all look for in our digital devices. Imagine if our phones and other mobile devices weren’t increasing in speed and capability with each passing year. We’d be incredibly frustrated, and we wouldn’t know what to do. But yet, we have allowed our physical infrastructure to absolutely deteriorate to the point that, as the population continues to grows, we’re setting ourselves up to be in real trouble. Infrastructure is an issue everywhere these days, and the time to address it is now.

Safety is also extremely important to our industry today. We need to continue working on it. Our machinery is out there and in contact with people. We simply need to continue improving the safety of our factories and our jobsites.

AEM: In your opinion, what can AEM and its members do to advance some of the causes that are important to the industry right now and help ensure the long-term success of equipment manufacturing?

Messinger: We’ve just got to keep telling our story, but doing so really requires everybody. Of particular importance is the need for the entire workforce in our organizations to communicate with elected leaders in Washington, not just company owners or managers. Change occurs when voters make their voices heard. Elected officials expect owners and managers to reach out to them, but when workers share their thoughts and feelings, the easier it is to get Washington’s attention and affect real change.

AEM: What challenges or opportunities out there really have the most potential to shape the industry in the long term?

Messinger: Sustainability is probably going to be a bigger force in our industrial lives than we really appreciate today, and I think it will go beyond recycling. That’s the obvious first step, but true sustainability in our organization occurs when we nurture the God-given resources we have and apply our will and intellect to maintain and minimize the impact we make on the Earth. Our population is growing, and it’s going to continue to grow. We need more space. And being able to sustain what have, as opposed to consuming even more, is going to be a real challenge for us.

AEM: Equipment manufacturers are balancing quite a few tasks and priorities these days. Not only are they developing new products and services to better meet their customers’ needs, they are trying to reduce costs in their operations and maximize profits, as well as educate themselves on the latest technologies and trends. What do you think it takes for an equipment manufacturer to balance everything?

Messinger: Our industry is experiencing some very good times right now, but during the financial crisis  we really needed to retrench. Priorities shifted during those times, and they’ve shifted back now toward growth and development. At Power Curbers, we’ve always wanted to build a company that would last, which requires us to hit every major area of the business, monitor it and improve it on a regular basis. From information systems, to lean manufacturing, to customer service, all of it has been actively addressed. I’ll also say, in order to really make an impact, you need to have a strong sales and marketing team that knows how to tell a story. Otherwise, your company will only be sharing its successes with itself.

When Power Curbers came out of the financial crisis, we set a goal for ourselves: no machine would fail in the first 200 hours of operation. In addition, a Power Curbers customer should never have a question about the machine or its process at work that wasn’t answered before he or she ever bought it. If that customer has an expectation that’s not realized on the jobsite, we failed that customer before we ever sold them the machine. Everybody in our industry builds machines, and all of them work, for the most part. To us at Power Curbers, the differentiator is the service we provide to the customer. Everything else falls into place around that.

AEM: Finally, what motivates you and keeps you passionate about working in the industry?

Messinger: There are young people coming into the industry with a real appreciation for what opportunities exist. The supplier base is strong today, and I’m really encouraged by the level of involvement I’ve seen from equipment manufacturing leaders in AEM and other associations working to serve their members and support the industry.

Nominations for the 2018 AEM Hall of Fame are now being accepted; learn more at www.aem.org/HallofFame.

Subscribe to the AEM Industry Advisor for more AEM news and updates.