You wouldn’t think it such a big problem, making sure that a hydraulic pump company has hose clamps, and that an electronics component refrigerator manufacturer has resistors and fittings, but it can be. A missing $2 item can shut down a $2 million operation until that insignificant culprit is present and accounted for. Endries International of Brillion, Wis., takes on the responsibility of keeping the parts bins full and keeping the assembly lines moving.
The company distributes and manages the inventories OEMs need to continually manufacture that original equipment. Endries manages items such as batteries, cable ties, clamps, snap rings, grease fittings, latches, pipe fittings and tape – bearing names like 3M, Buss Nibco, Starrett and Tinnerman, a short representative list at best. The company uses its own sophisticated systems to ensure that these items are inventoried, supplied and monitored with miniscule involvement on the part of the manufacturing client.
The process works in this way: An Endries employee, using a handheld Endries scanner, electronically surveys the contents of a bin. The data is automatically downloaded into an Endries computer system, which transmits the information to one of the many Endries distribution centers scattered throughout the United States and Canada, and as far away as Coventry, United Kingdom, and Breda, The Netherlands. From the distribution center, Endries ships whatever materials that are needed to maintain the proper level of inventory. An Endries representative replenishes the materials in the proper stocking bins, and adjusts individual stocking-bin levels based on the information in Endries’ database. A single invoice to the client completes the process.
The burden of inventory management is thus taken from the client and shouldered by a company whose excellent reputation as the prime materials-sourcing and management-systems supplier is well established. The client’s time and effort can be used for more lucrative endeavors, such as production. Everyone wins.
From Supplies to Services
Endries is a relatively young company. It was begun in 1970 with a typical sense of adventure: working capital, $5,000; original location, the basement of the Endries family home. Bob and Pat Endries sacrificed the opportunity for a rec room with a wet bar and a Sears painting or two on the walls for the chance to realize a dream. Endries began by marketing Class C items (fasteners, fittings and the like) and maintenance-and-repair-operations (MRO) supplies. Eventually, the company expanded into added-value services in the form of vendor-managed inventory, engineering-support services and a measurement system that tracks Endries’ performance of its work. All of these efforts led Endries and its customers into a program of continuous improvement. Later, Endries began managing materials at the floor-stocking locations, within its customers’ manufacturing and maintenance facilities.
The company grew significantly. After 14 years as a traditional distributor of hardware and related products for manufacturing and maintenance companies, it saw that its customers had to improve the return on their investments in people, resources and inventory. Recognizing this need led Endries to develop its materials-sourcing and management systems for inventory.
Revenues now top $125 million. Endries International employs nearly 500 and has eight distribution centers that service some 70 branch locations. The distribution centers receive and inspect incoming product, store and ship materials, and radio-dispatch the trucks. The branches stock materials for the local customers, and serve as the centers for the local representatives working with those customers. This combined effort services the 400-plus clients that partner with Endries. The top 200 customers cover industries in 46 different SIC codes, including food-service equipment manufacturers, transportation, industrial control manufacturers, motor manufacturers and the makers of lawn and garden equipment.
Overseeing it all are the executives at the Brillion, Wis., headquarters. Bob Endries serves as president. Steve Endries is senior vice president. Tom Mullins is the sales vice president and Matt Vechart is the chief financial officer. Todd Fischer is the vice president of information technology. Also housed in Brillion are the various departments that move the company along: human resources, information technology, accounting, training, and marketing. Endries markets its services through a direct-sales representation structure. The company acquires new clients through target-marketing approaches, networking and, of course, the oldest and the best method – word of mouth.
More Than Filling Bins
Endries demonstrates its strengths in a number of disparate areas. First of all, it offers a service that is somewhat unique – total inventory responsibility. Secondly, the company displays a willingness to expand geographically. Establishing distribution systems on two continents is a remarkable achievement in light of the short history of the company. Thirdly, the commodities managed by the company are highly diversified. Finally, the methodologies it employs to manage materials greatly transcend the idea of just “filling bins.”
Achievement is recognized in many ways, but one industry measure is the ISO award. Endries has been ISO 9002-registered since 1995 in three countries, for the establishment and application of “a quality system for Purchase, Sales and Distribution of Fasteners, Fittings and other ‘Class C’ items from the Brillion, WI, and Guelph, Ontario, Facilities,” in the words of the award certificate by TUV Rheinland of North America, Inc.
Endries International makes it possible for its customers to play in their “power alleys” by eliminating the need for involvement in the commodity supply that Endries manages. The hose clamps and the resistors fittings will be there when they are needed, along with O-rings and E-rings, grease fittings and drill bits, and all the other 180,000 stocking items the company supplies to its customers.