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Apache intends to continue organic growth pattern

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Tom Pientok, Apache
Photo by RPN photo by Mike McNulty Tom Pientok, Apache

SEATTLE—It has taken a few years and several acquisitions to spring Apache Inc. into the position it is in today.

But the company is exactly where and what it wants to be, according to President and CEO Tom Pientok, which is in the forefront of the belting industry.

The firm's business model has changed, and key parts of the operation are in place, he said.

Apache doesn't plan on slowing down, however. It could purchase another company in a month, a year or five years. The firm never tips its hand.

Pientok noted that acquisitions will continue to be part of Apache's growth plan over the next several years. “However, organic growth will be a large piece of our growth strategy.”

Presently the belt supplier and seals manufacturer will continue to blend all the parts it has brought together into a strong business, he said.

It would be difficult to pinpoint any single acquisition as the biggest move the company has made, Pientok said. “We have been very pleased with all of the transactions. I would point to the acquisition of ExCel Belting in conjunction with the purchase of AgBelt as one combo that has been very successful.”

ExCel had a superior product, he said, but lacked the sales and marketing engine to get it on a broad scale. “AgBelt was widely known for its stellar customer service model. Put those two together, and the result is a winning combination.”

Both were extremely important purchases, as was the addition of seals manufacturer Seals Unlimited Inc. in Portland, Ore., he said.

“Perhaps the most significant change to our organization through acquisitions was the purchase of Trico in December 2012,” he said. “We had just completed the change to our business model to sell exclusively through distribution and OEMs.

“Apache has long been known as a formidable competitor in the heavy duty belt and heavy fabrication business. Trico was the same for lightweight and light duty. The Trico acquisition gave us a position of strength across the board.”

Because of the various purchases, coupled with its core operations prior the acquisitions, the company is currently a well-focused provider of a broad base of industrial products, Pientok said, adding it now has the capabilities and technical expertise to service all its customers' needs. “We concentrate on providing solutions and not just delivering products.”

Topping the firm's list of accomplishments over the last several years, he cited two things: the integration of multiple companies from a variety of backgrounds and sizes into Apache, and the transition of the firm's business model.

Through all the changes, it has been able to maintain the same positive culture and commitment to serving its customers that it embraced prior to purchasing any businesses, Pientok said. “This is a real tribute to all of our nearly 300 employee owners,” who he maintains are the company's biggest asset.

“Changing our business model was one of the most dramatic undertakings in our company in the 16 years I have been with Apache.”

It was well planned, well executed and well received by the company's customer base, he said.

Looking ahead five or 10 years down the road, Pientok anticipates Apache will continue to be recognized as a strong competitor in the markets it serves. “While I can't see that far with any level of certainty, I can assure you we will be different than we are today.

“If we have learned anything over the past several years, we need to be willing to adopt our business model to the changing needs of the industry. We have done so, and we will continue to do so, while at the same time continuing to stick to our core values.”