A Certification Success Story
Founded in 1951, Hydraquip – a 100% employee-owned company in Houston, Tex. – offers system design, service and repair, and fluid conveyance through many world-class manufacturers. Through partnering with its sister companies, Hydraquip can provide turnkey systems, engineering, and fabrication capabilities. In 2014, it was named one of the Top 10 Places to Work by the Houston Business Journal.
Tim Nichols, president, is part of three generations in his family of fluid power specialists. Below he tells us what makes Hydraquip unique in this industry and why IFPS certification has been an integral part of its success.
One of the unique things we have done is segregate our business into three units: Power Solutions, Hose and Couplings, and Service and Repair. With three distinct sales forces, we can provide a level of support that exceeds industry expectations. We invest a lot of time and financial resources on training to make sure our sales force understands not only the products, but also the technology and the theories behind those products and systems. These investments have allowed us to rapidly develop specialized solutions with a high level of quality. We are also very blessed to have a talented group of employees and an outstanding group of manufacturers. Our commitment to IFPS and to certification only enhances our position within the fluid power industry and our clientele.
Being part of an employee-owned company is an important tenet of our culture and of our values. We all have skin in the game. We have a vested interest to see our customers and company succeed. Imagine, as a customer, speaking to an owner at every level of the process – from our shipping department, to sales, and to our leadership team. This is very compelling and something we attempt to drive every day.
I was fortunate that my father was in the fluid power industry. I learned much from him, and as sales manager for Rineer Hydraulics, he saw the value of certification. My father passed away in 2004, and I remember as I closed out his home office, there were two items that adorned his walls: one was a patent he received in 2001 and the other was his framed IFPS certification (no. 1214, dated April 15, 1989). My mother knew the importance of those two items, and she insisted I display those items as a testament to his life and the things he felt were worthy accomplishments. You can find both of them on my office walls.
I became certified in 1993. That was the first year when Hydraquip employees were encouraged to become certified. I took the test as a new salesman. Not only did I take the test, but so did Tony McGarvey, president of Hydraquip at the time, and his vice president (who is now my boss), Richard Neels. Shortly after, Hydraquip adopted its policies regarding certification that we still use today.
When my daughter, Rebekah, began her career at Hydraquip, it was only a matter of time before she would also become certified. Every parent wants his or her children to find a rewarding and stable career that makes them happy. Having my daughter follow in my footsteps, and also in my father’s footsteps, in the fluid power industry and to be able to share that with her is beyond words of pride and joy. And while I am very proud of my daughter’s certification, I am no less proud of the many professionals at Hydraquip who have also obtained that designation.
We consider IFPS certification to be a designation that demonstrates an employee’s ability to perform a specific job or task. We are proud of our record in respect to professional development. The majority of our outside sales force and our leadership have all been promoted from within. Since we highly encourage our employees to be certified, you will not find any of our outside sales force that does not have an IFPS certification.
Our Power Solutions employees are encouraged to become Certified Fluid Power Hydraulic Specialists. Our Service and Repair technicians are factory trained and also are Certified Fluid Power Mobile Mechanics. Several of our Hose and Couplings salespeople have the Hydraulic Specialist designation, as well. It certainly increases their ability to assist in plumbing a machine when they can read a schematic. These certifications are so important that we pay for the training, the testing, and we will increase an employee’s wage by 5% once the employee has obtained certification. And while we believe that an individual’s ability to pass the test is first and foremost, it is also that individual’s willingness and desire to begin and finish a task that stands out as part of the accomplishment.
Part of our value proposition is that our salespeople are able to work with our customers from the beginning of a project through the fruition of that project. That process could include specifying single components to some instances of specifying an entire system. It is important that not only Hydraquip, but also our partners and clients, have a high level of confidence in our sales force to manage that process. Becoming certified is an integral part of building that confidence. Certification makes a statement to both our customers and to our manufacturers. It shows our commitment to our industry, but also allows our employees to provide assistance.
All companies that deal with hydraulics or pneumatics should encourage their employees to become certified. From an industry perspective, certifications are mobile. Those certifications move with employees as they move throughout the industry. It allows future employers to validate the knowledge and experience that a potential employee brings. It also provides an unbiased third-party endorsement of that skill and knowledge. Certification demonstrates competency, motivation, and a dedication that is important in a highly technical field.