Equipment, construction and maintenance services company for 74 years AMECO was a team player, working across the globe in jobs as diverse as mining operations in the Third World to war zones and oil refineries.
But now in its 75th year, the company has struck out on its own.
Founded in 1947 as the in-house supplier of equipment and tools to the iconic Daniel Construction Co. of Greenville, the company was known during the 2010s as American Equipment Co., during which time it grew into a $1 billion segment of Daniel’s successor, Fluor Corp. , which later renamed the division as AMECO.
But gradually the company became independent.
“What happened was, we were able to create a private company mentality within a large parent organization,” says Gary Bernardez, CEO of the site services provider that New York-based One Equity Partners bought from Fluor for 73 million dollars in May. 2021.
Aside from the six years he spent at other companies after 2014, Bernardez had run AMECO for half of the nearly 30 years he spent at Fluor.
“But my passion was what the AMECO organization was capable of doing on its own,” says Bernardez, who credits Fluor with helping him, as a non-engineer, develop as a business leader.
Likewise, he appreciates opportunities from AMECO/Fluor’s “remarkable history of doing some pretty amazing things in tough places.” He recalls, for example, mobilizing with the US military in Operation Desert Storm in 1991, as AMECO did among many “madnesses”.
“We had some incredible stories: calls from generals and bombs going off inside the compound,” he says. “And every day you wake up working hard and trying to make sure people stay safe.”
While he once managed about 5,000 Fluor employees worldwide, he now oversees about a tenth of that number, many of whom moved into AMECO’s second life as a focused, independent company.
“The culture we created the first time,” he says. “People fell in love with the organization, and all we had to do was give it a purpose and a reason for people to stay engaged, and I’m very proud of those who have stayed here.”
Still, the company carries some of Fluor’s DNA, he says. “They’re part of who we are and who we’re going to be, but we’re also able to let go of things that don’t make sense to us.”
For one thing, according to Bernardez.
For another, AMECO can also absorb other companies now. On May 5, nearly a year after acquiring OEP, AMECO merged with F&M MAFCO; international supplier of rental tools and equipment, along with sales and service programs, operates seven branches in the US and three in Canada.
“We have a very similar heritage,” says Tim Fries, president and chief growth officer of the Cincinnati-based company that just marked its 77th year. (Bernardez happens to be an Ohio native.)
“You walk into their building and you walk into our building and there’s no difference. The culture is very, very similar,” says Fries. “I’ve been through a few purchases and it’s scary how well this has gone.”
Moving forward, AMECO is poised to take all that accumulated synergy to the “next level,” as Fries puts it.
And of AMECO’s renewed energy, Bernardez says, “You’re not starting over—you’re just re-committing with a different purpose, re-committing with a different level of enthusiasm and level of understanding where business can go.”
1947: Daniel Equipment Division was founded in Greenville as the equipment and tool division of Daniel Construction Co. in a garage off Main Street.
1971: American Equipment Co. is designed to expand business and support customers outside of Daniel Construction.
1977: Fluor Corp. acquires the company as part of the acquisition of Daniel Construction.
1987: American Equipment Co. expands to Puerto Rico, the first move outside the continental United States.
1995: Expands to global operations, including Mexico, Argentina, Chile and the Philippines.
1999: Rebranded as AMECO, doing business under a new name and logo.
2013: It thrives in a new, state-of-the-art headquarters on the same property that has served as AMECO’s home since 1969.
2021: One Equity Partners acquires the US and Canadian operations, creating AMECO as an independent company. Gary Bernardez returns as CEO and AMECO renews its mission as a site services company.
2022: AMECO joins F&M MAFCO, an Ohio-based company that just marked 77 years in business, as AMECO celebrates 75 years in Greenville.