It all started with a birthday dinner.
Back in 1991, Bill Glockner was hitting it hot and heavy in the consulting business. “I was flying all over the place and my wife, Susan, was a physician,” he says. “I was leaving on a Monday early and getting back Friday late, and she was on call. Needless to say, this wasn’t going to work for me or my family long-term.”
Fast forward to a birthday dinner for his mother in law. “I was complaining about how I was not happy with my career choice,” Glockner says. “My father in law (former Hirsch President and CEO Dan Mariscal) was complaining because he had nobody to continue with the company’s expansion. He said maybe we should work something out. We wrote out a quick agreement on the back of a napkin and I came to Hirsch.”
And the result of that decision has been nothing short of spectacular.
Glockner, Hirsch Pipe & Supply’s president and CEO since 2000 and the American Supply Association’s incoming president for 2020, has grown the PHCP-PVF distributor into a Southern California mainstay that now has 23 branch locations stretching as far south as the U.S.-Mexico border in Chula Vista to as far north as Valencia, north of the valley in the Los Angeles area.
Hirsch also features two corporate offices in Van Nuys (AR, AP, IT, purchasing and inventory control) and San Juan Capistrano (marketing and HR), a hospitality sales office in Solana Beach near San Diego (one of the company’s recent innovation success stories) and a distribution center in Carson, which the 330-plus-employee company moved into two years ago, addressing its need for a larger facility due to its continued growth.
“Carson is central to our freeways,” Glockner says. “We replenish out of there and do deliveries directly from the DC, which is a big thing for us in terms of making sure we have the products we need available to our stores. We continue to grow our network to blanket Southern California, and our larger DC enables that expansion.”
Hirsch, started by Joe Hirsch in 1933 in Los Angeles and sold to Mariscal in 1978 when the company had 21 employees, focuses the majority of its efforts on the repair and remodel contractor. “We go to great lengths to make sure those contractors have the service level that they need,” says Glockner, who started in the company’s Santa Monica location (which was Hirsch’s fifth store at the time).
Hirsch has been built upon a simple company motto: “Hirsch has it…”
“It’s all about having the right products in the right place at the right time,” Glockner says. “You have to make sure customers get in and get out quickly with the products they need. We measure our service levels relentlessly. We are extremely focused on that brand promise.”
But to Glockner, doing business runs much deeper than statistics on a sheet of paper. “We really go out of the way with our customers,” he says. “We have formed deep relationships with our customers over the years because we will go out of the way for them. We have a Hirsch creed we live by: we are passionate about living out our values and enriching the lives of our employees and customers. We have taken our customers all over the globe and love spending time with them both locally and abroad. We are very focused on employee and customer engagement.”
And one way Hirsch achieves that improvement is by really zeroing in on the employee engagement portion of the equation. Hirsch has been recognized as a best employer by business journals in Orange and San Diego County, as well as by AD, the buying and marketing group it is a member of.
“We have strong values and a strong culture,” Glockner says. “We combine that strong culture with strong metrics. We share those metrics with our people and they understand how we are doing. It shows them what success looks like. One of the things I have really enjoyed is the development of our people because we promote from within, and the greatest thing I think we’ve done here is how we work with people who are coming up through our organization.”
The benefits of ASA
Glockner only became seriously engaged in ASA activities over the past 10 years. “Once Mike (ASA CEO Adelizzi) took the helm, ASA suddenly gained a lot of energy,” he explains. “Scott Weaver (former ASA president/APR Supply) encouraged me to take a good look at ASA and not only participate as a member, but volunteer. He put a bug in Mike’s ear and Mike asked me to get involved. One thing about Mike is he is a hard guy to say no to. It’s great for ASA to have a CEO driving it who is so focused and passionate. I’m very excited about where ASA is at now.”
Glockner notes Hirsch was quick to embrace ASA University and all it has to offer. Several Hirsch employees already have graduated from the association’s growing Masters of Distribution Management program. “Another big area for Hirsch has been the ASA benchmarking,” he says. “We do a lot of metrics and it’s nice to see how our performance compares to other industry leaders.
“The other area that took a while for us to appreciate is what ASA is doing with advocacy. We are a company based in California, and unfortunately legislative action can completely derail your business initiatives. It’s hard enough running your own business and then having legislation interfere. Thank goodness we have an ASA presence on the national level and in Sacramento, otherwise it would be even more difficult. I feel like ASA helps us prevent the refs from changing the rules during the game. As long as we know the rules we can play just fine.”
Glockner also is a major fan of the networking component the association offers. “When you are a volunteer leader, you get to spend time with some smart and intense people,” he explains. “You would never get access to these types of distribution leaders otherwise. For example, this past year, I have enjoyed getting to know Steve Cook (current ASA president, Northeastern Supply) and Bill Condron (The Granite Group). You can’t get those kinds of conversations anywhere else. The networking benefit is enormous.”
For 2020, Glockner has two objectives in mind. “One is continuity because ASA is on a really great track,” says Glockner, who highlighted as an example the continued growth of ASA’s Women in Industry division. “Mike has done a great job of informing the current president, president-elect and treasurer about initiatives so we can continue to support ASA. We have this continuity of knowledge and that is going to help the organization stay on the right path.”
Glockner says his other big objective is driving member engagement deeper into ASA organizations. “Let’s get more people in the game,” he says. “We need to get the level of involvement even deeper into our member companies and take all this great value ASA provides and really drive it home. I look at it like this: ASA puts out this fantastic buffet. We just need to have more people putting that food on their plates. I’m a big believer in the more you take advantage of all that ASA offers, the more it will benefit your company.”