The 2016 Watch List
While many independent industrial distributors have
struggled with adapting to today’s digital world, the folks
at Midland Metal have taken it with stride, and are reaping the rewards.
The Kansas City, MO-based distributor of ball valves,
cast fittings and nipples, hose clamps, hydraulic adapters,
and pneumatic accessories has a team of only 49 employees, but its technological offering is anything but small.
Midland ( www.midlandmetal.com) has been offering
e-commerce for nearly 15 years, and now has a mobile app
and allows customers to build, place, and manage orders
by scanning barcodes, and gives real-time inventory levels.
“Customer adoption was slow, but those that did use
online ordering saw immediate and significant advantages – more accurate orders, increased efficiency and cost
savings,” says Midland executive vice president Billy Hodes
about both the e-commerce and app offerings. “We’re
very proud of our value-added marketing program we cre-
ated for our customers to use.”
Today, more than half of Midland’s orders are placed
online. Midland’s annual catalog features more than
20,000 products, which reside in its full stocking warehouses in Kansas City and Kerman, CA, along with partial
stocking locations in Houston, TX and Acworth, GA. The
company contracts out its manufacturing to large and
small machine shops, allowing its employees to remain as
one group concentrated on distribution.
Midland has been family-owned since Billy’s father Bill
Hodes bought the company in 1980. All employees receive
a bonus based on the company’s overall profitability.
Along with being a member of more than a handful of
professional organizations, the company stays ever-active
in the market by attending
and exhibiting at trade shows,
contributing white papers, article and press releases to trade
publications, and developing
product and pricing programs
for specific organizations.
Customer service is paramount at Midland, where a
live person will always pick up
the phone – not a machine.
Midland offered a five percent
discount on all online orders
placed when it first launched
its website 15 years ago, and
still offers the same discount
today. Midland company also
offers a “Your Brand is Our
Brand” program that provides
several tools for customers to
use in their own marketing at
virtually no cost.
“The philosophy that guides
Midland Metal sounds cliché
but rings very true: We put
the customer first,” Hodes
says. “We spend all day, every
day trying to come up with
ideas, products, and services
that will help our customers
succeed. We can’t succeed if
our customer’s don’t.”