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Silvertip Supply Inc.

Eaton Weatherhead Products Are No Small Potatoes at Idaho’s Silvertip Supply

“The folks at Eaton have been absolutely phenomenal in helping us promote our new industrial strength through inventory recommendations, promotional efforts, and end-user training. They are very customeroriented and have worked alongside us to educate people in our trading area of 15,000 people that NAPA does a whole lot more than just sell auto parts.”

Thad Samuelson
Silvertip Supply Owner

Background

When the Samuelson Family purchased the two NAPA AUTO PARTS stores in Kellogg and Osburn, Idaho, in 1993, Eaton’s Weatherhead® hose and fittings accounted for a mere 1 percent of sales. Now 16 years later, Weatherhead products are no small potatoes at the Idaho Panhandle stores known as Silvertip Supply Inc. In fact, Weatherhead sales now make up half of Silvertip Supply’s business.

Expanding the scope of the NAPA stores has required teaching old dogs new tricks, Thad Samuelson is quick to put himself at the top of the list.

Challenges

Coming from a family who’s father and grandfather were also NAPA store owners,Samuelson set out to build his business by focusing on automotive parts sales to the aftermarket, the traditional NAPA business model.Lingering on the shelves was a small Weatherhead JIC fitting inventory left over from the previous owner—just enough to cover guys with 20-year-old tractors.

Unsatisfied with sales growth, Samuelson tossed around the idea of branching out into automotive paint supply or going after heavy-duty business by beefing up his Weatherhead inventory. He took the paint route that required a large financial investment in paint-stirring machinery.

Silvertip Supply continued to chug along for the next several years, that is, until Eaton’s David Strohsack, who then served as NAPA national account manager, stopped in to pay Samuelson a visit. “David’s visit was perfecttiming,” Samuelson says. “I told him that ends kept blowing off our hose assemblies, and he said the problem was our old, handpumped crimp machine. That conversation got David and me talking about the heavy-duty sales potential in this area and the level of Weatherhead inventory I would need to go after the business.”  

Quickly sizing up the opportunity for growth, Samuelson ordered an Eaton ET4000 crimp machine and an expansive Weatherhead inventory the same day and set out on a new mission: to out hustle the competition. That meant Samuelson needed to learn how to position his business as a sure-to-have-it source for hydraulic hose and fittings in order to change the mindset of potential Weatherhead product users.

“Competitive hose and fitting sources in Spokane [Washington] had been calling on the local loggers and silver mines for years because there were no hydraulic hose shops here in the valley,” Samuelson reflects.

“That meant end-users had to make the two-hour round trip to Spokane every time they needed a hose replacement, and that translates into hours of downtime. We needed to get the message out that they could get what they needed right here.”

Solution

One of the first things Samuelson did was to put together a target list of customers and tack it to his office wall. He then called on the logging account that was at the top of the list. Samuelson did much more, however, than simply shake hands and hand out a business card or two.

“I made it my business to learn everything about what types of hose the company was using, size and pressure requirements, and inventory I would need to keep its downtime to a minimum. I then made sure I had all the Weatherhead products in stock that the logger would need. In the meantime, I learned that by adding a few more fittings that were unique to other industries, we would be a full-service shop for other accounts on my list.”

Results

Samuelson’s homework has paid off. During the past three years, he and Eaton’s Mike Collins, NAPA national account manager, have changed out eight of the 11 accounts on the customer target list that still graces Samuelson’s office wall.

A well-stocked Weatherhead inventory has been instrumental in Silvertip Supply’s increased sales, Samuelson reiterates.

“I decided I’m either in this business, or I’m not. No dabbling. If a customer calls for a hose or fitting and we don’t have it in stock, chances are we’re not going to get a return call. Customers dictate what our inventory needs to be, and we’re making sure it’s on our shelves, whether it’s 2-, 4-, or 6-wire hose, air brake hose, pressure washer hose, or anything else.”

Samuelson is quick to credit Eaton for Silvertip Supply’s sales growth and new image. “The folks at Eaton have been absolutely phenomenal in helping us achieve our new industrial strength through inventory recommendations, promotional efforts, and end-user training. They are very customer-oriented and have worked alongside us to educate people in our trading area of 15,000 people that NAPA does a whole lot more than just sell auto parts.”

Visit www.eaton.com/ hydraulics/weatherhead for more information.