On the Waterfront
It's ironic that a company whose growth, opportunities, achievements and reputation arose on land actually got its start on the water.
In 1947 L.C. Ringhaver, or "Ring," as he liked to be called, left Cleveland, Ohio for St. Augustine, Florida. The 36-year-old accountant had been tasked with finding a way to dramatically increase production at a modest shrimp boat industry that was suddenly awash in post-war demand.
Once Ring took charge of DESCO, production jumped quickly. Convinced that assembly- line production would turn out better boats at less cost to the buyer, Ring implemented manufacturing techniques he picked up during his previous time with GM's Cleveland Diesel. Within a decade, the company was launching two shrimp trawlers every week. The company's payroll jumped as well, from 35 to 200. By 1952 DESCO was the world's largest builder of shrimp trawlers. Ring purchased Desco from GM along with business partner James Melton. Five years later, Ring became the company's sole owner.
Ring's ownership gave the company more freedom to appraise - and purchase - diesel engines built by other manufactures. After years of carefully observing top marine engine producers, Ring drew conclusions that repeatedly led to his recommendation of engines built by Caterpillar Tractor Company. By the late 1950's, DESCO had become Florida's single largest Caterpillar engine customer.
In 1961, Ring Power Corporation was born when Caterpillar chose Ring as its official engine dealer. Just a year later the president of Lobrano Machinery Company passed away. Lobrano had been the Caterpillar dealer principal for North Florida, and his passing left Caterpillar in need of a new earthmoving equipment dealer in North Florida.
Ring Power Corporation Appointed Full-Line Caterpillar Dealer
There were no shortage of candidates, but in the end Caterpillar determined L.C. Ringhaver was the best candidate and awarded Ring Power Corporation the appointment as a full- line Caterpillar dealer in 1962.
Ring Power Corporation grew extensively under Ring's leadership, adding divisions and building new facilities in Jacksonville, Ocala and Tallahassee.
Changing of the Guard
In 1976 L.C. Ringhaver passed away, leaving uncertainty in the business community as to Ring Power's future. Although L.C. Ringhaver's sons, Lance and Randy had grown up working for Ring Power and learning every facet of the family business, Lance was just 36; Randy, only 28. Customarily Caterpillar did not appoint dealer principals in their twenties or thirties. But Caterpillar renewed the dealer agreement, affirming their confidence in Ring Power's current management.
Due to Ring's health complications, Lance Ringhaver had already been appointed company president in 1976, with Ring assuming a supervisory role as chairman. Lance's promotion came after four years of experience serving as Executive Vice President and General Manager. Also by 1976, Randy was serving as Vice President and Secretary - revolutionizing the Cat business model status quo and building a new foundation for subsequent success in the used equipment sales, international sales and equipment rental business.
In 1986, Rozier Machinery Company, held jointly by three sisters, decided to exit the Caterpillar business. The decision left Caterpillar with a decision of its own: who to appoint to serve the Central Florida territory. After weeks of negotiations and an impressive presentation Lance Ringhaver got the call that Caterpillar had chosen Ring Power Corporation to become its Central Florida Dealer. Caterpillar insisted that a new company was formed to serve the new territory, thus Ringhaver Equipment Company of Tampa was formed under the RPC, Inc. umbrella.
Lance decided to make the move to Tampa to establish Ringhaver Equipment Company, leaving Randy with the new authority of President and General Manager of Ring Power Corporation. Ringhaver Equipment Company's agreement with Caterpillar officially began September 1, 1986. Ringhaver Equipment Company was able to accomplish in three years what others had done in thirty, establishing one of the quickest growing Caterpillar dealerships in the country.
One Company. One Vision.
The turn of the century heralded big changes for Ringhaver Equipment Company and Ring Power Corporation. After 14 years of operating separately, health issues precipitated plans for Lance's retirement.
Lance's retirement in December 2003 afforded the opportunity to combine the two sister companies into one organization and Caterpillar approved the merger of the two dealerships as Ring Power. Today Randy Ringhaver serves as President and Chairman of Ring Power Corporation, with Lance Ringhaver serving as chairman emeritus.
Coming Full Circle
In 2005 Ring Power moved into its new corporate headquarters in St. Augustine, just a dozen miles or so from where L.C. Ringhaver started it all in 1947. Today, Ring Power Corporate headquarters in St. Augustine oversees the operations of 18 branch locations throughout the state of Florida, including large regional facilities in Tampa and Orlando and crane and forklift sales and service facilities in Pompano Beach and Miami. Ring Power also has eight facilities outside of Florida - Rhode Island, New Jersey, the Carolinas, Georgia, Texas and California - to serve the needs of other specialized industries and customers.