HOUSTON—SRM Industries Inc. recently celebrated its 10th anniversary as an incorporated company and can make a boast a lot of firms would like to make: it's been profitable for each year of operation.
The company makes a line of protective products—all utilizing Rhino in its brand name—that are used in the hose and other industries. And as it marks its milestone the firm continues to grow, adding a full time marketing specialist earlier this year, said Bernie Jacobsen, who serves as vice president and owns the company along with his wife, SRM President Mary Jacobsen.
“Ten years ago we had one product; now we have 13,” Bernie Jacobsen said. “Adding more distribution partnerships has really helped us grow.” He said sales have grown nearly every year and were up more than 9 percent for the first three quarters of 2015.
Under SRM's business plan, the company designs the products and contracts to have them manufactured. Jacobsen said 12 of the 13 lines are produced in the U.S., and stock is kept at three Houston warehouses. Its top three products are its RhinoWrap, RhinoSleeve HT and Rhino Spiral Guard.
The company has six staff members, with the Jacobsens based out of Lake Forest, Ill.; General Manager Kevin Jones overseeing the warehouse operations in Houston; and Marketing Specialist Rose Lucero, formerly of Gates Corp., working remotely from a Denver suburb.
Customer service—enabled by keeping ample inventory in stock—is the backbone of SRM's success, Bernie Jacobsen said. “We ship 99 percent the same day, no later than the second day,” he said. “Our customers will place an order by e-mail, phone or fax in the morning. Then they'll call back in the afternoon and want to add to it, and we say, "Sure, but it's already shipped.' “
He also said that the quality of SRM's sleeving products for hydraulic and industrial hose helps the lines stand out in a very competitive market. “Our sleeving does more than the standard sleeve,” he claimed. “Ours gives you bundling, it gives you abrasion, and it gives you pinhole and burst protection, all in one layer.”
Most of its business is in North America, though it does ship its protective products elsewhere, such as Columbia. “We've got more requests for private labeling of sleeving and straps,” Jacobsen said. “With the addition of our marketing specialist, we'll be able to work even closer with our existing customers and our new customers.”
SRM created the new position, he said, because the firm had grown to the point where he and Jones—both veterans of the hydraulic hose industry—were getting too busy to handle both their normal duties and dealing closely with customers. Lucero will be able to go after new customers and help introduce new products to existing ones.
Being a veteran of Gates, Jacobsen said Lucero has been in the industry, so she knew the products.
Customer retention is high because of how SRM caters to customers. Some of the products are made to order and SRM stocks it to ship on demand. The firm also will drop-ship orders using its customers' packing slips.
“In the oil and gas area, distributors want it the same day or the next day,” he said. “If you don't have it, they go to the next person in line. The more you can supply them the same day or next day, they keep on smiling and giving you more business because they can depend on you.”
In helping to run SRM, Jacobsen said he remembers one company he worked at early in his career where one vice president said, “We are in business because of the customer,” while another VP stated the opposite was true.
Jacobsen always has strived to follow the philosophy of the former. “Your customer has a choice in who they want to do business with,” he said. “As long as they have a choice, we want that choice to be us.”