Volume 7 | Issue 4 | Year 2004

You could say N.S. Hillyard’s impact on the cleaning solutions industry was the manufacturing equivalent of a slam-dunk.This is because the early supplier of innovative cleaning products to the maintenance industry was a huge basketball fan. He came to St. Joseph, Mo., in 1891, the same year that the first recorded basketball game was played in Springfield, Mass. He worked by day to support his growing family and labored nights to invent new products for the maintenance industry. In 1907, he founded the Hillyard Companies.

His company eventually took on an uncharted area of maintenance: wood gym floors. To support his venture, in 1920 Hillyard erected a new plant and office building in St. Joseph that then housed the largest wood gymnasium floor west of the Mississippi River. He used it as a test site to perfect new wood gym seals and finishes. When he wasn’t experimenting on new products – Hillyard was responsible for developing more than 100 patented products and pioneering custodial training – he was busy with the company’s basketball team, which became the national A.A.U. champions for two years straight and earned Hillyard a special exhibit in the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass.

Today, Hillyard, now seeing its fifth generation of family members making their mark on the company, retains a leading position in the cleaning industry with products that serve educational, industrial and healthcare environments. As both a master distributor and manufacturer, Hillyard, known nationally as THE Cleaning Resource(r), is uniquely positioned to supply its customer base quickly and efficiently.

Distribution success
Vice President of Sales and Marketing Bruce Windsor said the entrance into distribution occurred after the company recognized it was taking too long for its end customers to receive their products. “Our roots were in a direct sales force,” he says. “In the old days we had 150 salesmen. Then one day we realized we’re shipping everything from Missouri and our customers were waiting three weeks for products. Local distribution became integral to our business because we could then provide one-day shipping.” The company changed to all distribution in the 1990s and acquired many distribution outlets; Hillyard now maintains 31 locations nationwide with network of 100 distributors that employ more than 1,000 salespeople.

“Our unique position in the industry as a manufacturer and distributor is truly a differentiator,” adds Executive Vice President Scott Hillyard, a fourth generation family employee. “This gives us a tremendous competitive advantage. It puts us one step closer to our end-users, plus it helps us better understand the challenges of our other partner distributors.” In addition, this unique position allows Hillyard branch sales consultants to provide technical information firsthand, as “the manufacturer” of the cleaning products it sells.

In addition to its own products, Hillyard is a major distributor for the largest equipment, paper, and supply manufacturers in the industry, such as Nilfisk-Advance, Georgia Pacific, SCA, and Rubbermaid. From daily use supplies, paper, liners, cleaners, mops, and equipment, to the more sophisticated items like wood floor products, hard floor products, or proportioning equipment, this substantial network allows Hillyard customers to take advantage of a single source for all their cleaning needs.

“We recognize that we’re still in the people business,” Windsor adds. “We’ve always taken a consultative approach with our customers.” That consultation approach also entails extensive training programs, which benefits a growing population of non-English speaking people who cannot read labels and need to be trained in how to use products, he explains. Hillyard also employs a Cleaning Cost Analysis Program (CCAP(r)) that identifies, defines, and measures labor/staffing costs, cleaning frequencies, standardization of tasks, and proper utilization of supplies and equipment. “It helps our customers balance their maintenance budgets with the cleanliness of their facilities,” Windsor says. Hillyard distributors are staffed with highly trained consultants ready to help customers tackle tough maintenance problems.

Cleaning solutions
With a plant in St. Joseph, Mo., measuring one million square feet, including both manufacturing and distribution, Hillyard still innovates in the tradition of its founder, although its three-pointers are now made on the production floor; the passion for basketball has become a thing of legend.

But the company has become a leading scorer through the introduction of several significant product lines; among these is I-Force(tm), a complete line of industrial cleaning products that includes cleaners, degreasers and vehicle wash using high-discharge dispensing equipment, bundling these manufactured chemical products with the industrial rider scrubbing equipment, industrial matting and industrial wipers.

Other product lines include the Arsenal(r) Cleaning Systems that dispense quality cleaning products in three ways to help make an operation more efficient. Arsenal products dispensed in Hil-Pac(r) pre-measured pouches allow customers to dispense the right product at the right amount to complete the task. Those who rely on a cleaning system that revolves around dispensing ready-to-use products into quart spray bottles can choose the Arsenal Dispensing Jug System. For high-volume cleaning, dispensing from central or remote locations, Hillyard offers Arsenal(r) II push button dispensers or Arsenal Jr. dispensers that accurately meter ready-to-use products into quarts, mop buckets, auto scrubbers and extractors.

In addition, the Hillyard Clean Assist(r) product line surpasses the expectations of the toughest cleaning professionals. The line is composed of the finest cleaners, disinfectants, strippers, and specialty products. As the name implies, these items “assist” in putting the finishing touches on core cleaning and maintenance programs.

“Hillyard’s key to success has come as no accident,” Windsor says. “We must continue to understand our customers’ changing needs, deliver effective solutions and continuously support our customers with the right services and products”.

Through the constant attention to innovation, Hillyard is set to continue to be a significant force in the design, development and distribution of cleaning products across the U.S. It is a playing field that is competitive, but for a company that has earned top honors for nearly a century in its industry, it is a win well within reach.

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