‘You’re Number One’ Service Mantra Takes David Ellen’s Equipment Corp. From Zero to $56 million in 8 Years, New Video Reveals


In New Video, Family Enterprise USA’s Pat Soldano Interviews South African-native David Ellen on his American Family Business Journey


The American Dream was never more real than when applied to David Ellen and his journey in building, from nothing, his $56 million Ellen Equipment Corp.

In a new video by Family Enterprise USA, South African entrepreneur Ellen reveals how he and his family fled his homeland in the 1980’s and managed his way to red earth of Albuquerque, New Mexico.
“We knew no one and we had nothing,” says Ellen, in recounting his experience as a business builder in America and landing in America’s southwest.

Ellen’s life in South Africa was based on his successful positions at a well-known heavy equipment repair and maintenance company. But when the political climate shifted for the worse, Ellen packed up his family and fled for a new life in America.

In less than a decade he built his company, Ellen Equipment Corp., into a $56 million business, with 360 employees in eight locations.

Ellen Equipment Corp. specializes in the less than glamorous business of heavy equipment repair and servicing, but it flourished because of one simple mantra: “We’re not Number One. You’re Number One.”

“I trained everyone myself in this customer philosophy,” said Ellen, in the video. “This what made us different, this is why customers eventually believed in our service over our competitors, and it’s why we grew so fast,” he said.
Eventually, Ellen transitioned the company to his heirs. Today, he is on to the next chapter of his American Dream story.

America’s family businesses represent 59% of the country’s private workforce, or some 83.3 million U.S. jobs, research shows. In a recent survey by Family Enterprise USA, it was found family businesses in America consisted of 23.7% in manufacturing, 10.4% in construction/facilities, and 9.75% in real estate.

“We hope these family business stories help bring to life the stories of America’s family businesses,” said Soldano. She is also President of the Policy and Taxation Group, also based in Washington D.C. “There are many challenges multi-generational family businesses face, including just trying to survive,” she said. “Too often estate tax bills force families to sell their business, or taxes drive business out of state, and over-regulation make family businesses uncompetitive. These videos are designed to bring some of those struggles to light.”

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