Standard Source, Inc.

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Where Customer Service is “Everything”

FCG full-line distributor Standard Source, Inc., is located in Webster, Mass., home of Webster Lake, also known as Lake Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg.

Parker Business ReportOne translation of the name is: “You fish on your side. I fish on my side. Nobody fish in the middle.” In the case of Standard Source, however, it seems the “fish” from the other side of the lake and far beyond are happy to travel to this distributor’s “shore” just to do business.

Standard Source, founded in 1992, has seven employees and operates out of a single, 4,000-square-foot facility in a town of 16,000—not quite on the beaten track. So why do people drive from an hour away, passing numerous other sources, just to reach Standard Source?

According to Edward Keegan, president and founder of the company, it’s because “They know they can get what they need from us.”

Keegan grew up and worked as the fourth generation in a family-owned plumbing and hardware supply business. “It was driven into me from my early days that 'Customer service is everything. The rest takes care of itself.’”

Viewing Inventory as a Sales Tool

The customer service mindset is pervasive and immediately obvious at Standard Source. A full-line distributor for FCG as well product lines from Parker’s Hydraulics, Automation, Instrumentation and Filtration groups, the company’s inventory is surprisingly large, completely filling the warehouse and occupying shelves in an outside trailer and even the kitchen of what used to be Judith-Ann Keegan’s homemade ice cream parlor.

“It’s a constant juggling act to control and adjust the inventory to fit customer requirements. We research usage history and print and review requirements reports on a weekly basis,” said Judy, treasurer and Edward’s wife and partner in the business.

“If you turn a customer away a couple times in a row, they don’t come back. We really don’t watch the bottom line; it’s all based on history and usage,” said Edward. “It can get expensive, but it also allows for our high level of customer service.”

“Many companies get to a certain size and begin to view their large inventory as a liability,” said Rob Mudge, general manager. “We view our inventory as an asset and a sales tool. Our ability to supply a part that can’t be found elsewhere is an effective way to get and keep customers.”

Standard Source’s on-site ParkerStore, opened in 2004, is also helping to grow the business by putting some key inventory out front. “The point-of-purchase displays are really working,” said Mudge. “When people see items they didn’t know we carried, it generates a dialogue and opportunities for additional business.”

The counter business is primarily MRO and construction and includes “while-you-wait” fabrication of hose up to 2'' ID and tube up to 1.5'' OD. “In any given month, our counter business can be our third to our fifth largest ‘customer,’” said Mudge.

The growing business is now looking into the possibility of buying property and expanding to a 10,000 square foot building.

The “Above and Beyond” Factor

CalloutA large and well-managed inventory is, of course, only part of the story. The commitment to going “above and beyond the call” is standard procedure at Standard Source.

When another supplier “threw up its hands” on a special bonded hose that kept leaking on a de-icing rig at Boston’s Logan Airport, Standard Source got in touch with the Parflex Division and worked for three days until the problem was solved. The customer, who manufacturers the rigs, has been back twice for that particular hose and has referred some of their customers as well.

“We treat people the way we would want to be treated and we’re not afraid to spend time or money to make things right,” said Edward Keegan. “We take care of the customer first and worry about the rest later. This is what has allowed us to become strong and grow and gain a competitive edge in a shrinking market.”

The company also has customers who sometimes need kits in small volumes assembled on short notice. Whether it’s parts or kits, all employees pride themselves on getting orders out the same day to the point that they ply the UPS driver with root beer or hunt him down at a local fast-food restaurant, his last stop of the day, all in an attempt to get that last package shipped.

Another case in point: Rob Mudge’s after-hours job interview which was interrupted by a call from a customer who was putting in a stone wall. His excavator had broken down and was leaking hydraulic fluid into Webster Lake., Mudge, a former Parker employee, and Keegan worked until 10 PM, amidst representatives of various government rescue, fish and wildlife agencies, assembling two new hoses and repairing the leak. “Even though the interview had to be rescheduled, Judy and I knew immediately that Rob would have the same commitment to the customer as we do,” said Keegan.

With the company two years now, Mudge figures prominently in its succession plan, and even here, Edward Keegan’s customer service mindset is evident. “It is important for us to know that we have a successor in place whose philosophy and commitment to the company and to service mirrors ours,” said Keegan.

The Knowledge Factor

EmployeesFor Standard Source, having highly knowledgeable employees also plays an extremely important role in servicing customers, and this knowledge spans both knowing the products and the customers’ needs. For example, based on the increasing number of companies operating global equipment in the area, Standard Source has developed a strong knowledge of metric thread sizes and a well-managed inventory to support it.

Supporting their knowledge of the full line of FCG products, Edward Keegan and Mudge are certified P-TAC Connector Specialists and a third employee is currently in the recertification process.

Taking the knowledge factor one step further, Edward Keegan often takes calls from customers regarding parts that are already in the customers’ bins. After years of servicing their locations, he has memorized the customers’ inventories and can actually direct a customer to the location of a particular part that exists in that customer’s own inventory.

There was also the time Edward was at a weekly bin check at a customer facility and Judy called with a question. “Can you hold on?” the customer asked. “He’s waiting on one of our customers.”

No wonder the “fish” are swimming from the other side of the lake.

1 Cody Street
Webster, Massachusetts 01570-1802
Telephone: 508-949-0308 or 800-783-0308
Fax Number: 508-949-6308
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