BY BILL ADAMS
Mike Mikoola’s business affiliation with the Oshkosh Corporation started 50 years ago—about the same time Oshkosh developed a working relationship with Pierce Manufacturing Company.
The links between Oshkosh and Pierce, between Mikoola and Oshkosh, and between Mikoola and Pierce are explained to provide clarity to the Global story. Seemingly separate paths at first, the three links are parallel in nature, coalescing in 2001 when Mikoola purchased an Illinois company called Global Emergency Products. Today, Global is the authorized dealer for Pierce fire apparatus in Illinois and Indiana. This article describes Global’s journey.
OSHKOSH AND PIERCE
Oshkosh’s roots can be traced back to 1917 when the company was expressly formed to manufacture heavy-duty four-wheel-drive trucks. It still does today. Within today’s municipal fire service, the Oshkosh corporation is predominantly known as the parent company of Pierce. Oshkosh’s actual entry into building fire apparatus started in 1953 when it delivered an aircraft rescue and firefighting (ARFF) rig to the United States Coast Guard.
Oshkosh and Pierce had a dual working relationship that started back in the 1970s. According to Tom Shand, a well-known source of fire apparatus history, Oshkosh developed a low-profile cab and chassis that Pierce used extensively to mount articulating boom aerial devices (aka snorkels) to keep the rigs’ overall height low. He also mentioned that Oshkosh was one of the outside vendors that supplied the running gear for the Arrow cab when it was first introduced. From Larry Shapiro’s book, Pumpers—Workhorse Fire Engines, “Built on a chassis that was originally constructed by Oshkosh, the Pierce Arrow designation referred to both the body and the cab. It became extremely popular.” It remains so. Pierce started building the complete Arrow chassis in-house in the early 1980s. Oshkosh purchased Pierce in 1996, cementing their established business association with each other.
MIKOOLA AND OSHKOSH
Mike Mikoola’s relationship with the Oshkosh Corporation began in 1968 when he started with that corporation’s then dealer selling Oshkosh Airport Products, which included vehicles to handle snow and fire emergencies. Ten years later, he founded Temco Machinery, Incorporated, which marketed both the airport snow removal and ARFF equipment. Privately held by Mikoola, Temco is Oshkosh’s authorized distributor for airport snow removal equipment in Illinois, Indiana, and Kentucky.
MIKOOLA AND PIERCE
Global Emergency Products was originally started by Jim Glazebrook in 1983 selling ancillary fire equipment, later the FMC fire apparatus line, and eventually the Pierce line in the early to mid 1980s. Mikoola purchased Global Emergency Products in 2001, and today Global is the authorized dealer for Pierce Manufacturing in Illinois and Indiana.
What first appeared to be the players’ divergent paths were in actuality similar routes reaching a logical conclusion. Mikoola owns both Temco Machinery and Global Emergency Products. Temco markets the airport equipment and Global, a DBA subsidiary of Temco, markets Pierce fire apparatus. Both product lines are Oshkosh Corporation Companies.
GLOBAL EMERGENCY PRODUCTS
Although Global and Temco share the same physical facilities, Mikoola points out the employees for Temco and Global are not one and the same. Each organization has its own distinct sales force and support staff. The same applies to service. The Pierce product line has its own technicians, as does the Temco Oshkosh line. He notes the average technician has 16 to 18 years of experience.
Approximately 2,000 fire departments in Global’s marketing territory are serviced by 50 employees from three locations. Global’s original location and corporate headquarters, located in Aurora, Illinois, covers the metro Chicago area and Northern Illinois and is in close proximity to Northern Indiana. It encompasses 40,000 square feet and has 18 service bays.
A 15,000-square-foot facility in Peoria, Illinois, with six service bays is located in the central to lower portion of the state. It opened in 2000. The most recent expansion serving Indiana is located in the metro Indianapolis area. Opening in 2006, it has 30,000 square feet and a dozen service bays.
When Mikoola purchased Global in 2001, he kept the Global name, as it was already associated with the Pierce line.
How did you get started selling fire apparatus? “It started in 1986 with Grumman out of Roanoke, Virginia. After Grumman closed shop, we were without a (municipal) fire truck manufacturer but still sold the Oshkosh ARFF trucks. In 2001, the Pierce line became available [through the Global purchase], and we tied our tail to the product line. The rest is history!”
Is there a trend in Global’s marketing area for purchasers to use cooperative purchasing programs? “No.” However, he adds, “Co-op purchasing (i.e., HGAC) allows purchasers to obtain the vehicle of choice without having to go to bid. In many cases when utilizing a bid process, the purchaser ends up with a nonpreferred vehicle.”
When commenting about local specification writing, Mikoola says that it is also applicable to cooperative purchasing. “Purchasing a fire truck without the assistance of an apparatus salesman is next to impossible. Specification details and applications are constantly changing based on technology. Only someone involved on a daily basis with apparatus specifications can stay up to date!”
When purchasers use outside spec writers, Mikoola says, “Typically, when a department consults with an engineering firm, the firm contacts the dealership for assistance with apparatus specifications.”
Do purchasers follow their own specs when evaluating proposals? “Not always. Depends on the strength of the spec writer.”
Mikoola responded to several questions about customers “in general” in his territory. On existing apparatus designs, he says some customers believe there’s “too much technology.” He comments that many of them are paying attention to apparatus construction “details.” Regarding if fire departments are looking for “low bid” or “dealer loyalty,” he answers that they are looking for “dealer loyalty based on service support. They want the dealer to act as a liaison between manufacturers and customers.”
On multifunction apparatus design, he says, “The Pierce PUC design has facilitated the rescue-pumper, eliminating the need for a rear-mount pumper or a separate rescue squad.”
On future apparatus design, he states, “We see an interest in a combination of (fire) apparatus and patient transport vehicles.”
On National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 1901, Standard for Automotive Fire Apparatus, Mikoola says, “NFPA 1901 assures certain standards are maintained when manufacturing apparatus. It sets a benchmark for apparatus design, similar to the Society of Automotive Engineers.”
Do you want to make any comments on standardized vs. customized apparatus? “Unless [standard operating procedures] are adopted across the board for firefighting operations, a standardized apparatus design is not feasible.”
Are you finding purchasers are specifying the requirements for “service after the sale” in their purchasing specifications? “Yes. Maintenance agreements.”
Do you have any words of wisdom for apparatus purchasers—i.e., what to look for, what to be aware of, and what to consider putting in their purchasing specifications? “Based on integration of technology, a single-source manufacturer is preferred over a compilation of components. This is especially valid in the case of aerial apparatus.”
Global’s 40th anniversary was in September 2018. Mikoola comments that Global currently has the “largest market share” in its territory. His outlook for the company’s future is optimistic to say the least.
BILL ADAMS is a member of the Fire Apparatus & Emergency Equipment Editorial Advisory Board, a former fire apparatus salesman, and a past chief of the East Rochester (NY) Fire Department. He has 50 years of experience in the volunteer fire service.