While many took a financial blow during the Great Recession, Nathan Crumley of Gainesville started his first business.
Nathan Crumley, who was 25 at the time, bought M&R Equipment Rental & Sales in 2008.
His brothers, Will and Don, later joined as co-owners of the store at 128 Enota Ave. in Gainesville.
Almost nine years later, the three walked on stage to receive Small Business of the Year award during the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Meeting & Gala on May 16. BGW Dental Group also received the award.
“It’s rare for three brothers to get along, much less run a company together,” Brian Rochester, the Chamber’s new chair said at the event. “...It really is a testament to the character of each of these boys and of the Crumley family.”
Nathan Crumley said he has always been fascinated with construction equipment, and recognized a career opportunity while renting products from M&R.
“I talked to my dad, and he told me to go talk to the bank for a loan,” he said. “If nothing else, it would be a good experience putting together a business plan.”
Since the recession decreased the value of construction equipment, Nathan Crumley said he got lucky.
“It really worked out because a 25-year-old couldn’t come over and take over something like that with this economy,” he said.
Don Crumley first started working at his brother’s business while finishing up his college education at the University of North Georgia. He became a full-time co-owner after graduation in 2010.
Will Crumley, who graduated from the University of Georgia School of Law, said he killed time waiting for his bar exam results by working at M&R.
He quickly decided he wanted to take another route and team up with his brothers.
“I realized I liked working outside more than in the office,” Will Crumley said.
The Crumley brothers bring different skills to the table at M&R. Nathan handles the business matters of the shop, Will takes over the mechanic and driver tasks, and Don works at the front desk.
“Since we’re brothers people think we’re all raised the same, so we’d be the same, but luckily, we’re not,” Nathan Crumley said.
Don Crumley said the three do have their fair share of arguments, but they settle them with “a majority rule vote.”
The brothers said they didn’t receive a substantial return on their investment until 2011. To this day, Nathan Crumley said he still doesn’t feel like he has reached his peak as a business owner.
However, the store continues to grow. The three remember starting off with one Bobcat skid steer. They now have 25.
M&R offers rentals on a wide range of construction equipment including forklifts, concrete mixers, scaffolding sets, jackhammers, pressure washers and more.
The Crumleys don’t operate the equipment. Instead they drop it off and leave it with the customer. If someone needs instructions on how to use the product, the brothers will provide guidance.
Unfortunately, not every customer is perfect. Nearly once a month, Nathan Crumley said people will either flip the equipment or get it stuck in something.
“Somebody was cleaning out a creek at their house and the machine just sunk into the creek,” Don Crumley said.
Although they have eight staff members on the team, the three brothers handle the damage control.
The Crumleys plan to keep the business in the family. Don Crumley’s 5-year-old son, Kent, already pretends as though he works at the shop.
As for the future of the business, the three agree that they want to continue growing it. They have no immediate plans to open another location, but Will Crumley said it’s a possibility.
“I enjoy coming into work almost every day,” he said. “The customers and the people here make it fun. If there’s something you want to accomplish, we’re more than happy to help you figure out what you’re trying to do.”
For more information about the business, call 770-532-3331.