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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Small Business Awards: Hyspeco is seeing big jumps in sales

By Molly McMillin
The Wichita Eagle

When a deadly EF-5 tornado tore through Joplin, Mo., last year, Hyspeco Inc., spurred into action.

Company officials went to radio stations and asked them to air a message, said Ted Barney, Hyspeco vice president. That message was that any company or entity that had hydraulic or pneumatic equipment that needed parts could go to Hyspeco’s Joplin location, “and you could get them free,” Barney said, if the parts were needed for search and rescue efforts.

“We did that for a month.”

Barney didn’t immediately know how many people were helped. But it wasn’t uncommon for 15 to 20 people to be at the location at any given time.

“If we see a need, and we feel like it’s important enough to the community,” we’ll get involved, he said.

Hyspeco Inc., located at 1729 S. Sabin in southwest Wichita, has been an employee-owned company since 1989.

That shows, employees say.

Employees are loyal and proud of what they do, Barney said.

“Most of us can’t afford to own a hydraulics company, but we can work hard, and we can own a little bit of it,” said Steve Sonner, a technical sales representative who represents employees on the board of directors.

Turnover is low. Sales are up. And so is employment.

“Our people make this company,” Barney said. “They believe in what we’re doing.”

During the downturn in 2009, employment dropped from 69 to 56.

Hyspeco now employs 80 people in five locations, including 55 in Wichita. It has added five people in the past four months locally.

The company is rebounding big time from the recession.

In 2009, sales fell 29 percent. In 2010, they rose 37 percent, and they grew 52 percent last year to $31.7 million. Sales are up again this year.

The company’s goal is to reach $50 million in sales by 2015.

One of the reasons the company is growing is that it’s added services that fit with the business, Barney said.

Hyspeco is a distributor of hydraulic and pneumatic products, fluid connectors and electromechanical components.

It’s added kitting services, bar-coding, engineering, subassembly work, vendor-managed inventory programs, custom assemblies, field service, hydraulic and pneumatic testing, fabrication and a pump-build program. In 2007, it expanded its space to add a repair facility.

“We customize every program to what the customer wants,” Barney said.

Cargotech Solutions in Ottawa, Excel Industries in Hesston and Bradbury Group in Moundridge are Hyspeco’s largest customers. It also does work for Cessna Aircraft, Bombardier Learjet, Spirit AeroSystems, Coleman and others.

Hyspeco was founded in 1968 by Buford "Penny" Pendergrass. In 1979, Bob Stancer bought it from the Pendergrass family. And in 1989, employees bought the company, forming an Employee Stock Ownership Plan or ESOP.

The company holds luncheons every month and posts its financials for employees to see.

It also compares its stock against the S&P 500 to see how it compares.

“We don’t have any secrets here,” Sonner said.

The company’s biggest challenge is to keep up with fast-changing technological advances in the industry.

“It’s due to the emerging technology of electromechanical products and control products,” Barney said. “In some instances, it’s taken the place of old-school hydraulics.”

The company is adapting.

Besides Wichita and Joplin, Hyspeco has locations in Wellsville; Kansas City, Kan.; and Springfield, Mo.

And it‘s looking to make acquisitions.

“If you’re not getting bigger and stronger, then you will eventually die,” Barney said.

Reach Molly McMillin at 316-269-6708 or mmcmillin@wichitaeagle.com.

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