Thomas Engquist, founder of Head & Engquist Equipment LLC, died at his home Aug. 14. He was 72.
Engquist began his career as a manufacturers' representative in Baton Rouge, La. In 1961, he founded Head & Engquist Equipment with a customer, a Houston-based contractor named Frank Head. The two men recognized the potential for the equipment business in the fast-growing Gulf Coast region and went into business together by forming an equipment dealership. Initially they concentrated on cranes, but later expanded into the earthmoving business. They eventually expanded throughout the southeast becoming one of the region's largest crane dealers, and also the region's leading Komatsu dealers. Head & Engquist also formed an aerial work platform division and made several key acquisitions to grow the company. In 1999, they sold the company to an investment group, Bruckmann, Rosser, Sherill & Co., and developed a plan to merge with ICM Equipment. Today, as H&E Equipment Services, the company — profiled in September RER — is No. 9 on the RER 100.
Known also as “Mr. Tom,” Engquist loved the outdoors and had a passion for hunting. Through his generosity, Engquist shared his love of the outdoors with handicapped children in Baton Rouge so that they too could enjoy outdoor activities.
Engquist served on the board of Bank One and was a founding member of the Country Club of Louisiana. He was a veteran of the Korean War, having served in the U.S. Air Force.
Engquist is survived by his wife, Rubye Lee; a daughter, Kristan Engquist Dunne and husband Bryan; a son, John Engquist, now H&E CEO, and wife Marty; and four grandchildren.