ECCO Equipment Corp.
1417 N Susan St.
Santa Ana, CA 92703
Phone: (714) 554-4851
About ECCOMission Statement
The mission of ECCO Equipment Corporation is to be the industry leader in the heavy equipment rental business through integrity, efficiency, skill, service, value, innovation and hard work. We strive to provide high-quality, late-model earthmoving equipment that exceeds the needs of our customers; to provide a safe, friendly, enriching environment for our employees; and to be good neighbors in our communities through our respect for the environment and involvement with local issues.
The History of ECCO As Prepared for the 50th Anniversary
A Lasting Partnership
In 1954, after serving in the Navy during the Korean War, Don Schmid went to work for the Los Angeles County Sanitation District as a civil engineer. His immediate supervisor was Lester Haug who had joined the County as a Project Engineer after his discharge from the Army Corps of Engineers following WWII. The two made a good team, collaborating on an innovative sewage outfall project that earned them a patent for laying pipe underwater. (Les’ grandson, David Haug, is currently involved in the project to increase the capacity of the very same system.) In 1958, Don wanted to go into business for himself and he asked Les to be his silent partner. With $5000 they formed a partnership as general contractors under the name Engineered Construction Company: ECCO.
The Early Years
ECCO specialized in reservoirs, flood control, and bridge projects. Don was the President and GM while Les was a silent (relatively speaking) partner. For the first few years, Don ran the company from his parents’ home. In 1961 they built a 720 square foot office building for Don’s father, Walter Schmid, on the corner of Lampson Ave and Beach Blvd in Stanton. Upon completion, Don rented one of the offices and that became the new headquarters. ECCO was doing great. Don was able to underbid the competition and maintain a large profit margin by using new techniques. To build a bridge, for example, he might pour the bridge first then excavate the underpass beneath. He saved a fortune on scaffolding and forms while at the same time avoiding having his employees work at dangerous elevations. The profits prompted Don and Les to form Ecco Contractors Inc for tax purposes. Another excellent decision Don made was to hire Emma Hunt away from Dobkins Pipeliners to be his Office Administrator. Emma eventually retired over 40 years later, the first 10 of which were spent as the sole secretary/bookkeeper of the company. In late 1963, the company ran into some trouble when a heavy winter rainstorm dropped 2 inches of water on an unfinished flood control project. The water level rose around a box culvert section of the project and literally floated it. It was a rare miscalculation for Don, but Ecco still managed to break even on the job.
The Start of Rental
Although the company was quite successful in competing for projects throughout Orange and Los Angeles Counties, there were still times when some of Ecco’s equipment operators weren’t as busy as they would like to be. One such crane operator, Harry Proctor, got permission to rent the company’s surplus crane to another contractor. Harry was so successful that when Ecco needed a crane for its own projects, they were often unavailable. This upset Don somewhat, but his solution was simple: buy another crane. And thus began the pattern of buying, renting, and buying more that built a significant equipment fleet.
In 1970, Ecco moved to its current location on Susan St. (then named Harper St.) in Santa Ana. Two years later, Don and Les formally divided the company into two parts: Ecco Contractors Inc. and ECCO Equipment Corporation, selling the former to Browning-Ferris Industries who renamed it BFI Constructors. (Don ran BFI Constructors until he shut it down in 2001.) Harry Proctor was made GM of ECCO, and ECCO also brought over a young mechanic named Ray Stubbs to help with the new company. (Later this year, Ray will retire from ECCO after 36 years of service.)
The Southern California Market
As a rental company exclusively serving southern California, ECCO focused on operated and maintained rentals. That is, the machine came with an operator to run, maintain, and fuel it. During the 70’s and 80’s, ECCO’s bread and butter was grading housing pads in Orange County for Sukut and other contractors. The company kept over forty operators and their John Deere 450’s moving from project to project. In 1980, ECCO hired Gary Rohman as Dispatcher to fill these rental orders (and others).
After five years of dispatching in Santa Ana, Gary was given permission to start a new branch in Visalia, CA, near Fresno. Approximately every five years thereafter, ECCO has opened a branch in a new location: Riverside – 1988, Las Vegas – 1993, Phoenix - 1998, Salt Lake City – 2000, and Boise - 2007. Several satellite locations sprang up as well including Stockton, Sacramento, Tucson, Bull Head City, and St. George. Outside of southern California, most rentals are bare (machine only), but the company prides itself on providing whatever equipment and labor its customers demand. ECCO has had its equipment working as far east as Mississippi, as far south as the Mexican border, and as far north as North Dakota.
Fifty years after it started, ECCO is still a family company doing business unpretentiously. Remarkably, half of our employees have been with us for over 10 years. Our mission is to be the industry leader in the heavy construction equipment rental business through efficiency, integrity, skill, service, value, innovation and hard work. We strive to provide high-quality, late-model earthmoving equipment that exceeds the needs of our customers; to provide a safe, friendly, enriching environment for our employees; and to be good neighbors in our communities through our respect for the environment and involvement with local issues. As the ECCO name celebrates its 50th year, our employees and owners are proud of what we have built and what we have helped others to build.
We are indebted to our customers for trusting us to supply their heavy equipment needs, and we look forward to the next 50 years.