Work Hard, Be Honest and Do Whatever it Takes to Make Your Customer Happy

Work Hard, Be Honest and Do Whatever it Takes to Make Your Customer Happy

Superior Industrial Supply, one of the largest independent distributors of hoses, fittings, fasteners and industrial MRO supplies in the Midwest, celebrates their 50th anniversary this year. Superior is a second-generation family business run by President Gary Wack and Vice President Paul Kratz. In this interview, Gary and Paul are answering questions about the company’s history and future:

Q: Tell us a little about the history of Superior Industrial Supply. 

Paul Kratz: The inspiration behind Superior Industrial Supply began a long time ago and was based on my grandfather’s company, Star Fastener. My father Robert never actually worked for Star Fastener but was inspired to go out on his own and start Superior. He just saw so many opportunities in the construction and manufacturing trades where he believed he could make a difference. That’s when he turned to Gary’s dad, Richard Wack and said, “I need some help and I need someone I can truly trust.” So, they partnered up.

Gary Wack: In the early days, our fathers were picking up quite a bit of business from competitors around town. As they started growing some of those product lines, they started to wonder if they could go direct with some of the suppliers. They took their biggest leap sometime in the 70s and went direct with Weatherhead. They were so scared when they signed up for it but decided to jump in with both feet and make it work. And, that’s what they did.

Q: How does Superior view its responsibility to their customers?

Kratz: Treat your customers the way they want to be treated. A few years back, we sent our sales force through sales training and one of the most interesting things that came out of it was a discussion about the old saying “Treat everybody like you would like to be treated” and how that adage really needed a little update. It’s not about treating your customers the way you want to be treated, it’s about treating them how they want to be treated. I think that’s something that our fathers had been doing for a long time.

Q: Where do you see the future taking Superior?

Kratz: It will probably be no different than the way we’ve changed in the past. We’ve always grown through our customer base and their needs. We’ll continue to grow and add new lines to support them.

Wack: Technology forces you to grow and change with the world and that’s what we’re doing, but we’ll always be a customer-based company.

Q: Are there any plans to celebrate such a significant milestone?

A: We are having a Christmas party and plan to use that as an opportunity to celebrate our 50 years in business.

Q: What has been the secret to Superior’s continued success? 

Kratz: Our success is due to our tremendous team of employees. The longevity and contributions of our team have been the foundation for Superior and we care about our employees and their ideas. For example, our first outside salesperson, John Looby, started in 1976 and retired from the company 38 years later in 2014.

In addition, our customers know we really care about them and we want to do what’s best for them. It’s always been that culture since the first time Superior opened its doors and we’ve worked hard to encourage and reinforce that through the years.

Wack: I agree with Paul. It’s about our loyal, hard-working employees and the level of service we offer. You can talk about the inventory, you can talk about our product knowledge and our free delivery, but it always comes back to the same thing. Our team is a family and we are customer-driven and customer-focused.

“My father told me to work hard, be honest, and do whatever it takes to make your customer happy. That is a philosophy that I live by to this day, and one that Superior is built upon.” – Gary Wack, President

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