Excellence has a magnetic effect. Hill Threaded Products does a great job of protecting customers from their competitors. One competitor’s salesperson wanted to know their secret. He is an outstanding salesperson. Since he was able to get customers away from everyone but Hill, he felt that they must have an edge that his other competitors didn’t. He questioned their customers and learned how they did things at Hill and he immediately applied for a job with them. Now he knows when he gets an account, the company will do everything in their power to keep that customer forever.
During a recent interview, Dale Hill, Vice President, said, “The main thing that sets us apart from other companies is the fact that we pride ourselves on having the best service in the industrial supply business. We have someone on call 24 hours a day 7 days a week. So if you need something there is always a live person available to help.” Hill does have a specific market niche. They deal with all types of industries, repair shops, food processing, plants and the petroleum industry. Most of the sales are generated by their four outside salespeople. They also have a vibrant “will call” counter and “call in” business. They never know what the next customer need will be, so they are always ready for anything.
When Hill Threaded was started in 1980 in John and Judi Hill’s garage, they wanted to build a solid business based on a sound financial base and a reputation for outstanding service. John had worked for a national fastener distributor for 10 years and he knew how important the service component is in a Fastener Distribution business. Their growth has been funded through profits, not bang loans, so they are not leveraged. They have consistently invested in appropriate high quality equipment, delivery vehicles and sales vehicles. Quality is not a luxury when it comes to providing a reliable service.
The owners, John, Judi and Dale, take a hands-on approach to management, not absentee ownership. They have consistently grown while keeping the overhead low and the service level high.
As they grew, it became obvious that in order to maintain their high standards, they must implement an integrated computer system They were simply wasting too much time on unproductive jobs. In 2002 they implemented a new, fully integrated system that is designed specifically for fasteners and industrial suppliers. This new system is called The Business Edge from Computer Insights, Inc. in Bloomingdale, Illinois. The implementation of this new system has enabled Hill to accelerate growth, improve customer service, make jobs easier, and lower costs.
Dale Hill explained, “It was a good day when we decided to implement this new system. The Business Edge has helped us in all areas of the business. The system helped us establish standardized procedures for each department. It helped us reduce our inventory and improve our ‘in stock’ level on needed items. It has also enabled us to improve our already legendary service to our customers. Today if you call in, we can tell you with a few strokes if we have the items requested in stock, how many you bought last time, what you paid for them, if and how many are on order and when they are expected to be in stock. We also know what the usage is and many other things with just a few key strokes”
Dale brought up an interesting additional benefit that he didn’t really expect when he first bought the system. He said, “Using The Business Edge, we are able to check stock from home, so when you call, we can see if we have it all on the shelf before we drive all the way to the warehouse.”
Dale said, “An addition to The Business Edge that we recently added was the inbound fax module. This has dramatically increased our efficiency by enabling each person’s faxes to go directly to their desk. The system receives faxes as electronic images. It then allows us to conveniently tie the image of the fax to a Vendor, P.O, Customer, Sales order, or any of a number of items. All these documents are accessible through The Business Edge. Once again, with just a few keystrokes we have all pertinent info at hand. If a customer calls about a fax that they sent in, it doesn’t matter which of our emplyees they sent it to, we all have immediate access to it. And best of all, no more lost faxes. And such a huge time save by having all the info right there at your fingertips.”
He added, “One important factor in our decision was the need to have a solution provider with the same customer service philosophy that we have. That is one of the reasons we chose The Business Edge for our software. The people from Computer Insights are always available to help with any problem we may have, or even just generic questions. We can call or Instant Message or e-mail and we are assured that they will do all that they can to make it happen. No endless voicemail wondering if someone is really on the job. The programmers are in-house and they are not satisfied just leaving things they way they are, but always trying to make our job easier with new upgrades and more benefits”
Dale said that their goal is to continue their enthusiastic response to customer needs for the next 50 years. He said that they will continue to use the latest and more relevant technology to assure that this is possible
This article appeared in Distributor’s Link Magazine