According to Randy Breaux, senior VP of marketing for Birmingham, Ala.’s Motion Industries, there are three things that separate his company from the rest: people, products, and process.
Breaux said, “We have a solid base of technically competent personnel in the field to make sure our customers are getting the right replacement parts for their applications.” Motion Industries employs about 6,500 people in approximately 550 branch locations, 42 service shops, and 15 distribution centers throughout North America. The shops provide gearbox repair, gearing change-out in gearboxes, install seals, and perform hydraulic shaft repair and hydraulic pump services.
“I don’t think there’s a customer we can’t reach within two days,” said Breaux. “Our distribution centers operate with a “hub-and-spoke” distribution model. Each center will service about 150 branch locations, which is how we get products to our customers so fast. We either ship it out of the branch warehouse, from one of our distribution centers or have the manufacturers drop ship directly to our customers for timely service.”
MI represents the top brands in the mechanical power transmission industry that have large installed bases in North America. Those are the brands that the customers in the industry prefer to use, and for good reason. They’re top quality, the best in their class, they provide the best service, and they do all of these things the right way. “These are our largest suppliers because that’s who we build our business around to support our customers with,” said Breaux.
He tells a story to illustrate his point. “We were in Houston recently. We assembled our oil field team, and there are many mechanical products used in the oil fields — gears, bearings, motors, etc. I overheard the comment, ‘If we don’t have this brand available, we will lose 50 percent of the replacement business that we currently sell.’ Both the brand and the product were that strong in the market. There are at least two others who supply a drop-in replacement product. But, if product A fails, he gets to replace it with the same brand and keep his job. If a drop-in replacement product B fails, he may lose his job for using a perceived inferior brand, because it doesn’t carry the same weight as brand A does in the market. Motion Industries carries the brands that our customers perceive as best in class. It’s invaluable to have the right product.”
More than 50 percent of the time MI receives an order, it is for something that’s broken that very moment. Breaux said, “Most of the time, customers don’t have time to plan for their replacement. It’s broken, it needs to be fixed, and they come to us. We either have the product in stock, or we reach into the manufacturer’s inventory, or we can find alternatives solutions from the original part that was in the equipment.”
These processes are in place for MI to respond to the end-customer’s needs, understanding that they aren’t going to have the product in their inventory — nor will they even know that they needed it more than half the time.
Breaux said, “We’ve learned to become very responsive in our processes, providing the parts and service customers need on a timely basis. In a given year, some customers will only need a product one time. So the breadth of our inventory and the suppliers we work with must be very wide.”
Service for Customers Large and Small
It’s important to know that about a half of MI’s business is servicing large, multi-location customers. With these customers, Motion has an agreement in place to service that contract from Motion’s branches, wherever the customers’ plants are located. Motion’s local customer service rep will have a relationship with the local purchasing and maintenance manager at that plant. Breaux said, “If this relationship doesn’t exist, it’s very difficult to service the customer.”
Motion’s other customers are single-location. “For these customers,” said Breaux, “we have a local office and customer service rep that services them in no different fashion that we service the large ones. This is critical. It’s all about establishing a relationship. There’s a trust factor involved — do what you say you’re going to do, when you say you are going to do it.”
In the mid 1970s, MI was acquired by Genuine Parts, headquartered outside of Atlanta. Today, MI represents one third of Genuine Parts’ business. Genuine Parts’ other businesses include NAPA, SP Richards and EIS, all located in Atlanta
Like the rest of the industry, Motion is learning to deal with a maturing workforce. “Every day,” said Breaux, “our customers rely more and more on us to provide them technical assistance — for productivity gains and improvements, cost savings, reducing the material content, reducing the amount of labor — as their seasoned employees are retiring. Looking at MI in the future, I can see our service business and technical business growing.” Motion Industries sets the standard in the industry for industrial distribution as their tag line says “Keeping Industry in Motion”!
For more information
Visit www.motionindustries.com, or call 1-800-526-9328 to find a sales branch location.