Hydraulic Supply Company
Hydraulic Supply is a full-service distributor of fluid power products and services for a variety of industries.
By Stephanie Crets
Founded in 1947 in Miami Springs, Fla., Hydraulic Supply Company began as a hardware and tool store with a focus to service the airline industry. Now, the company is recognized as a premier distributor in fluid power for even more industries, with a selection of more than 100 brands, 24 retail locations and a central distribution center and repair and service center.
“We represent the ability to create the turnkey operation,” President John Serra says. “From the engineering design of the product and product selection to manufacturing, installing and training the person, we can do everything.”
Hydraulic Supply carries a selection of more than 20,000 hydraulic, pneumatic and industrial products in stock from the most recognized brands in the industry. Its most prevalent supplier is Eaton, who makes up nearly 70 percent of the company’s product sales. Eaton, a global management company, is the premier brand in the hydraulic industry and customers are willing to pay a premium for a reputable, quality product.
“We try to use their products first and foremost,” Serra says. “They have a full array of products to support the industries we service.”
Hydraulic Supply has many retail locations close to the customer with salespeople visiting customers constantly. “We listen more and provide products closer to the customer for their needs,” Serra notes. Domestically, the company has locations in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. Alabama expansion is slotted for early 2017. Internationally, it services the Caribbean, Central America and South America, excluding Brazil.
Two new locations are underway in Monterey, Mexico and another one in Knoxville, Tenn., which will be complete before the end of the year. Hydraulic Supply’s plan is to open three new locations per year for the next few years. Additionally, the company is heavily investing in equipment, such as an industrial hose and reworking its ERP system to better manage its inventory.
“More and more we’re seeing that our customers don’t want to inventory more material themselves; they want their supplier-partners to carry that burden until needed in production,” Serra explains. “As a liaison between the manufacturer and end-user, there’s a lot of burden financially and space constraints. But our ERP is going to allow us to get information more readily from a product standpoint and order replenishment standpoints.
“We just added two new procurement people to manage the inventory,” he continues. “And then on the store side, all of our stores carry 6,000 to 8,000 SKUS, so there’s a lot of turning off and turning on product as the customer base changes, which is a constant thing. We don’t want to be sitting on nonmoving inventory.”
Finally, Hydraulic Supply has invested in its repair business, having recently spent $1 million on a state-of-the-art facility in Pompano Beach, Fla., to better service large pieces of equipment and machinery in a more timely way. The repair center’s services include hydraulic cylinder repair, hydraulic motors and pump repair, power unit repair, hydraulic valve repair, tube honing, rod polishing and welding. The company has also begun performing field service.
“The big goal is we want to be one of the top 150 industrial distribution suppliers in the country,” Serra adds. “We’ve got a solid plan to get there in the next five years.”
Hydraulic Supply is trying to expand quickly and finding quality people is the biggest challenge the company faces. Most people are not going to school to learn the hydraulics industry, and Hydraulic Supply needs people that have both engineering skills and sales acumen. “It’s really something that needs to be taught and passed on, so it’s hard to find quality people that know hydraulics,” Serra explains. “If you think about our product, is a technical sale. We like to find someone who can do the engineering piece and feel comfortable in front of customers – that’s a unique person to find. That’s why they’re paid a premium because they’re a rare breed.”
Out of its 205 team members, at least 50 of them have about five years with the company, while 25 team members have at least 25 years tenured with Hydraulic Supply. “That really speaks to us,” Serra says. “We care about our team members. I don’t want anyone to be a number. I want everyone to have a voice, a name and feel part of the team.”
This ties into Hydraulic Supply’s core vales, which include:
* Honesty, integrity and ethics in everything the company does;
* Providing the opportunity to grow and advance; and
* Providing an atmosphere of cooperation, friendliness and mutual respect.
“I’m most proud of the promoting from within we’ve been able to achieve,” Serra says. “I’ve got two district managers for our store operations that were both store managers. They weren’t from the industry, so they’ve learned the industry and were able to develop themselves. I have several outside sales people that got FPS certified for our industry, which is a great accomplishment having come from outside the industry. We have many stories like that. People want to grow if you give them the opportunity to do so.”