“A contract like that gives us a base to start,” Deaver-
Rivera notes. “Once you have a base, you can seek out
contractors, put your rental yard in. Just one step at a time.”
There isn’t always federal money providing steady support
for new locations, but Frank’s Supply still adjusts its broader
footprint with a prudent assessment of where there’s need. In
addition to the flagship location in Albuquerque and a spot in
Los Alamos, Frank’s Supply has a physical presence in the
New Mexico cities of Farmington and Hobbs. There’s also a
Frank’s Supply in El Paso, Texas.
Inventory generally comes through Albuquerque first,
under a modified central purchasing model. The company
has weathered fluctuations in business by strategically
moving items, and sometimes even personnel, between
the five locations. Frank’s Supply also maintains a balance
by setting up a consumer space at most locations, offering
general hardware store goods and services. Irwin notes the
importance of approaching this portion of the business with
the same rigor given to any other area, with well-stocked
showrooms and skilled, knowledgeable staff.
Frank’s Supply also does strong business with the rentals
side of the operations. At most locations, rental and retail are
housed in the same facility, but the home office is a different
story. The company snapped up some land that became
available across the street from the main building, and the
resulting rental yard has an impressive scope.
On that side of the house, it’s especially important to
anticipate all the needs of clients, so a whole array of
additional retail goods are at the ready, in case someone
didn’t think through the need for a trailer hitch or other items
when they journeyed out to rent industrial equipment.
The Right People
One of the key things that sets Frank’s Supply apart is the quality
of its customer service. The company engages in a fairly robust
program of professional development for staff members, keeping
everyone up to speed on the latest tools and equipment. Product
knowledge is critical in a business where unique inventory items
number well into five digits, and customers are counting on staff
to provide answers to the most vexing questions.
But Frank’s Supply also faces a challenge that’s increasingly
common across the industrial distribution space: finding
new employees who have the focus and talent to get the
“We try to hire people with industry experience,” says
Irwin. “If we can’t find experienced personnel, we hire them
into the yard and try to promote from within. That way they
learn the equipment, learn the warehouse, learn the business.
We grow our own people.”
Growing their own people is getting tougher in an
environment where young professionals might be reluctant
to jump into a smaller, family-owned business. Bigger
organizations are snatching up new workers with the
promise of a wider array of opportunities.
If it’s tough to find strong new hires, Frank’s Supply
doesn’t have difficulty keeping good people onboard. In the