Forward-thinking Midland Industries takes partnering with its customers to an entirely new level
There is much more than meets the eye when it comes to Kansas City, Missouri-based Midland Industries.
On the surface, Midland and its now four umbrella companies are quite adept when it comes to the domestic-dominated manufacturing of more than 40,000 products used in the plumbing, PVF, waterworks and irrigation markets.
But Midland Industries is so much more than just a PVF manufacturer because of its constant forward-thinking and innovative ways that fuel customer-driven solutions and smart technology on top of that deep product selection.
That constant thirst for innovation when it comes to going the extra mile for its customers is the genesis for Midland being the latest inductee into the Supply House Times PVF Ring of Honor. Midland joins Industrial Valco (2014), Penn Machine (2015), Apollo Valves (2016), United Pipe & Supply (2017) and Merfish Pipe & Supply (2018) as winners of the award, which celebrates its sixth year in 2019.
“We’re too convenient not to do business with,” Midland Industries CEO Vince Hodes says.
Midland Industries traces its lineage back to 1919. The Hodes family purchased the company in 1980 and since then it has enjoyed rapid growth, accelerated in recent times by private equity firm Wynnchurch Capital acquiring Midland Metal Manufacturing on Nov. 1, 2018. Wynnchurch previously had acquired fellow Kansas City-based brass and pipe fitting manufacturer Anderson Metals in January 2018.
Subsequent acquisitions of Toronto-based industrial hose, couplings and sheet rubber manufacturer Buchanan Rubber in February 2019, and Overland Park, Kansas-based brass and stainless steel fittings manufacturer Mid-America Fittings in March 2019 give Midland Industries a powerhouse quartet of manufacturers under one roof.
Midland now has eight manufacturing and distribution locations, with specific distribution centers in Kansas City, Houston and Los Angeles, and more on the way with the goal of providing its customers around the country with the quickest order fulfillment possible.
“Our hallmark as a family of companies is the convenience, consistency and quality that are wrapped into every exchange and sale, because we are driven to serve our customers at the highest level possible,” Midland Industries Chief Marketing Officer Billy Hodes says.
Melissa Coolidge, an industry veteran hired earlier this year as Midland’s plumbing and PVF national sales manager, says the 250-employee company can lean on the many intangibles the four companies bring to the table.
“We have brought together experts in four different companies now to collaborate as a team,” she says. “This team is filled with industry knowledge and excellent customer relationships. We are using this team to expand our product offering and increase distribution. The better we focus on these two goals, the better we can support our customers’ needs.”
STAYING AHEAD OF THE GAME
Midland Industries long has been on the cutting edge when it comes to technology zeroed in on helping its customers win business. Billy Hodes points out Midland first started offering online ordering capabilities to its customers back in 2004. Out of the gates, 10% of Midland’s orders came via online. “We were very happy with that,” he says.
These days, 73% of the company’s business is conducted online with 82% of its massive inventory available to its customers through that medium, and those numbers continue to trend upwards, the company points out. And in a day and age where mobile apps have quickly engulfed our lives, Midland already had been swimming in that pool for a decade. “Our app mirrors our website,” Midland National Sales Coordinator Mike Newton says.
Newton notes the company’s website averages more than 15,000 logins a month with more than 5,000 of those logins placing orders. “We are in a need-yesterday industry,” he says. “We are extremely proactive and do everything we can to drive our customers to our website. Our customers have access to our inventory and can check real-time stock levels. We are driven by technology.”
But the online ordering piece is just the tip of the iceberg for Midland when it comes to helping its customers succeed. Among the many value-added services Midland offers are the ability to create custom catalogs for its customers where Midland’s newest catalog is used as a template to completely customize the look, contact information and pricing to fit the customer’s needs.
Midland also will set up e-commerce sites for its customers, preloaded with all of Midland’s available product inventory, as well as produce personalized marketing materials (print, tablet and online). The fun keeps going with Midland offering customized part numbers for its customers, as well as on-demand personalized bin labels.
Additionally, Midland will blind ship orders for its customers, while also offering private-label shipments that feature its customers’ logo on boxes, packing slips and product labels. In 2019, Midland has shipped more than 17,000 private-label shipments for its customers. Billy Hodes points out by using this program, customers have access to an additional 40,000 items without investing in additional inventory.
Midland’s BrassCatalog.com offering is an unbranded sales and marketing tool that allows Midland customers to provide their customers with specs, pictures and pricing with no reference to Midland. Customers can download or print a generic line card, pictorial index and product category pages with, again, no reference to Midland.
“We are a tech company that sells PVF products,” Newton says. “That’s one of the differentiators for us. If a customer has pain points and problems, we will help fix them. Everything we do is focuses on helping our customers sell more. Everybody sells stuff, but we have the technology tools and the service.”
Billy Hodes says Midland considers itself marketing partners with its customers. “We provide more than just product solutions,” he says. “We have made it our business to help customers succeed, adapting to meet customers’ demands and offer solutions beyond just supplying a product. We offer a full suite of marketing tools to help customers grow their business profitably.”
Hodes adds Midland’s expertise in not only the tech genre, but in myriad industries, makes it an even more valuable resource to its customers. “We devote a large percentage of our time and resources to developing products that meet the needs of customers across multiple markets,” he explains. “As we continue to add to our platform of companies and product lines, we know we will continue to help our customers increase their sales by giving them more options. Many of our customers specialize in one market, but serve many. It can be overwhelming, so we came up with tools to make the transition easier, which allows our customers to sell our products with confidence.”
THE STRAW THAT STIRS THE DRINK
Midland’s many tech-driven intricacies and solutions it provides would not be possible without an A-list workforce. “We operate in much the same way a healthy family would,” Midland Chief Sales Officer Scott Bardreau says. “Trust, collaboration and mutual respect are the backbone of our philosophy. Treating our associates and customers with respect and patience is paramount.”
Bardreau, like Coolidge, is a high-visibility industry veteran hired earlier this year, giving Midland even more frontline firepower. “Our greatest asset and advantage are our people,” Billy Hodes says. “Over the years all four companies on the Midland Industries platform have sought to find the best talent to bring superior manufacturing and innovation to our market so our customers can grow their business with greater ease and control. This would not be possible without our dedicated team of servant leaders. We have assembled experts in marketing, sales, design, customer support and manufacturing to deliver an experience to our customers unlike anything seen in our industry. We put the customer’s success at the forefront of everything we do.”
“We aspire to be the best,” Bardreau adds. “We are not comfortable settling for good. We are looking to steadily improve, to enter into and capture new markets, to innovate with creative marketing ideas that introduce technology into our business model and add value for our customers.”
Coolidge adds: “We not only listen to our customers; we also listen to our associates because they are the ones driving innovation on a day-to-day basis. We need all of them to get to where we are going.”
And part of where Midland is going includes more growth on the horizon. “We will continue to expand our people, product and services offering through both organic and acquisitions growth,” Vince Hodes says. “We continue to lead the industry in customer-driven solutions, smart technology and deep product selection.”
Coolidge labels the entire Midland experience for its customers as “elite.”
“We will continue to expand based on our customers’ needs,” she says. “Bringing together these four companies has only helped our customers, which always is our No. 1 goal. Midland has created the perfect storm.”