FRANCHISING IN THE HEAVY EQUIPMENT INDUSTRY
Dealers and franchisees that sell and lease expensive heavy equipment are often at the mercy of the manufacturers, franchisors and suppliers whose products they sell or lease. A large disparity in bargaining power often exists between local equipment dealers and franchisees and a national or international manufacturer, franchisor or supplier. Unfortunately, this can lead to the local equipment dealer accepting unfair or oppressive terms. As a result, the dealer is often left with little to no legal recourse if the large manufacturer arbitrarily terminates the dealership agreement, thereby ruining the thriving business that the local dealer built.
Recognizing the need to level the playing field, most states now regulate heavy equipment industry franchise and dealer relationships. Although no federal industry-specific franchise legislation exists, as in the automobile or service station industry, the majority of states have enacted laws that seek to protect heavy equipment dealers and franchisees from unfair manufacturers, franchisors or suppliers’ conduct. However, these dealer protection statutes vary between states. Between states with these laws, legislative differences exist as to what type of dealers or franchisees are covered by the statutes, as well as what those statutes protect against.
Generally, states’ heavy equipment laws cover dealers in equipment and machinery used in construction, forestry, maritime, mining, and other industries. However, some statutes are more exclusive than others. For example, Louisiana’s heavy equipment law only applies in five industries: farming, construction, heavy industrial handling, some utilities, and lawn and garden equipment. These statutes also differ in the type of protection afforded to dealers and franchisees. Some prohibit a manufacturer, franchisor, or supplier from terminating an equipment dealer without good cause and an opportunity to cure. The definition of good cause may differ between states, as well as the exact notice requirements. Further, some states require manufacturers to repurchase the dealer’s inventory after termination; others require the manufacturer to compensate the dealer for the value of its premises, and some fail to address regulate manufacturers’ actions post-termination. In a few states, heavy equipment laws prohibit manufacturers from discriminating between its dealers. And in most that have enacted legislation, the laws authorize a dealer to bring suit for violation of the letter of the law. However, as these laws vary, an experienced franchise attorney with countrywide experience is best suited to navigate the complicated legal landscape of the heavy equipment industry.
THE SUCCESS OF THE GOLDSTEIN LAW FIRM IN REPRESENTING DEALERS IN THE HEAVY EQUIPMENT INDUSTRY
Jeff Goldstein and the Goldstein Law Firm have over thirty years of experience and a proven track record in successfully representing only franchisees and dealers. During these thirty years, Jeff Goldstein and his franchise law firm have represented numerous heavy equipment dealers and franchisees across the country. Attorney Goldstein and his associates know your legal rights, and are well equipped to protect your heavy equipment business from unfair termination, non-renewal, or discrimination.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU SUSPECT YOUR HEAVY EQUIPTMENT DEALERSHIP IS AT RISK BECAUSE OF YOUR MANUFACTURER’S UNFAIR CONDUCT
Many states have enacted laws to level the playing field for heavy equipment dealers and franchisees, but accessing these legal protections can be time sensitive. Just as in other areas of franchise law, timing is crucial in keeping your manufacturer from unfairly terminating your agreement. To effectively protect your heavy equipment dealership, you should call Jeff Goldstein at the Goldstein Law Firm at 202-293-3947 as soon as you suspect termination, non-renewal or discrimination by your heavy equipment manufacturer. Don’t let your heavy equipment business and personal finances be destroyed by your manufacturers’ illegal conduct.