Contributed by Paul Kundinger • President, Kundinger Inc.
Achieving longevity as a company is what any organization aims to do, but it’s not an easy process. Kundinger Inc. was founded on the belief that it would provide the best service possible and that’s helped the company achieve 60 years in business this year.
Great service isn’t a one-size-fits all approach; there are a lot of facets that need to be in-play for a distributor to be successful. The company needs to hunger for knowledge, care about its customers, stay one-step ahead of the competition, and be willing to adapt.
Stay hungry — Any company, no matter how big, once started out small. To grow, those small companies had to take risks, think outside of the box and leverage opportunities. Yes, it can be very scary to take a risk, but that is how multi-million- or billion-dollar companies are established.
This isn’t to say any new idea is a good idea. A company needs to be smart about the risks it takes — calculate them first. For example, if a company operates with 60% of its business in the OEM space and 40% in the maintenance repair and operations (MRO) space, a calculated risk would be to expand the MRO business. Calculated because the decision is rooted in data: how much business is brought in through this market currently and what facts support growth in this area in the future?
For example, we at Kundinger have known the ins and outs of our MRO business, so well in fact, that we recognized a growing need for fluid power repairs. As part of this calculated risk, we created a fluid power repair business. This decision was made strategically based on the company’s current MRO business and observations, from working in the field, that support the need for additional repair services.
Show customers you care — A company cannot grow without meaningful relationships with its customers. It’s about establishing relationships — and also leveraging them. It is not uncommon for a company to grow and expand because it implements processes to offer a solution for its customers.
If a distribution company’s sales team is noticing an increase in requests from customers to go to manufacturing facilities to repair or refurbish machines, that may be an indicator for the company that their customers need an innovative repair solution. The distributor can continue to work as-is, or they might take that insight and make a change to better serve their customer.
Kundinger’s solution is a new in-house service that repairs critical components and works with other distributors to be able to easily retrofit machines for customers. This new offering opened a door for the company to add staff to its payroll and grow. This entire new division within the company would not exist if it wasn’t for the influence of customers based on a well-established relationship.
Keep one eye on the horizon — A key factor in growing any company is anticipating what’s coming next for the industry and utilizing that knowledge. As a distributor, this is incredibly important because a part of the job is to recommend updates for customers based on technology changes. This means distributors need to pay attention to advancements in the industry, attend trainings and seminars on a regular basis and research what its competitors are doing to always stay one step ahead.
One of the biggest changes coming down the line right now in the fluid power industry is electrification. More technology than ever before is becoming interwoven through the Internet of Things (IoT) into basic fluid power systems. For distribution companies it is important that their employees not only know about these new connecting ways of operating, but that they also understand how they work so the value of transitioning to the new technology can be easily explained to customers. Distributors give themselves a competitive edge when they can assist in ways the customer hadn’t even thought of yet.
Be nimble — Adaptability is so important because it is a distributor’s job to make process improvement recommendations for customers. In addition to being educated about the changes coming down the line, it’s about being able to adapt to that customer’s particular needs to provide the services they require. This has become increasingly more difficult because fluid power is not being taught in as many college and technical schools as much as it was in previous years. This change makes finding qualified talent difficult and has put the strain on companies to make sure employees are trained on fluid power components.
Continuing education is an important element to ensure current employees are trained and ready to pivot with changing customer needs and industry trends. It’s also a great way to help employees grow within a business, as we at Kundinger have seen over the years. In many cases, giving staff room to level-up within a company through continuing education training can directly correlate to retention. The tenure of an employee is important to establishing and maintaining credibility with customers.
The size of a company will impact how each of these service tactics is executed. A smaller, family-owned distribution company may have the opportunity to be more flexible than a larger company; not every decision needs to make its way up a corporate ladder for approval. But there are inevitably downsides for a smaller company, too, like implementation may cost more. Size aside, as long as the core value of service is at the center of a distributor’s business it can count on being in it for the long-haul.
Filed Under: News, Trending