Second generation, family-owned Midland Metal keeps proving that good old-fashioned hard work and a “big, hairy, audacious goal” are a smart approach to prospering in a predominately corporate-driven world.
KANSAS CITY, MO. July 8, 2010. Bill Hodes and his son, Nick, opened Midland Metal’s doors in 1980, selling brass fittings to the plumbing market. Little did current owner and president, Billy Hodes, who was just a boy at the time, know that 30 years later he would be at the helm of a company whose product line is represented by independent manufacturers reps across the United States, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean, and is used in projects like the Bellagio hotel’s fountains in Las Vegas.
Midland Metal’s story is one that symbolizes American family values and the customer loyalty that continuity brings. In its first year, the company earned $60,000 in revenue. When Billy, Bill’s youngest son, joined the business in 1999, sales were up to $20 million.
Today, the company supplies fittings, nipples, valves, clamps and plumbing accessories to the oilfield, well water, plumbing and HVAC markets. Several customers, like the Neenan Company, have been with Midland Metal from the beginning. But this growth over the years did not come without a few twists, turns and a long-lost third cousin along the way.
In 1985, Bill Hodes sold his stake in Midland Metal to Nick. In 2000, it was decided that the industrial division would be separated from the plumbing, gas and oil division and sold to Nick’s brother, Vince. By that time, Billy had joined Midland Metal, and Nick was ready to move on to other ventures. Though the business was losing money between 1999 and 2001, Billy was determined take the reigns and change its course with a new business plan and a self-coined “big, hairy, audacious goal.”
“I found a willing bank in January 2002, which allowed me to buy Midland Metal from Nick. My plan for the business focused extensively on investing in technology and personnel so that we could position ourselves operationally and technically for a strong push on the sales side — by implementing my new business model with specific initiatives to strengthen the national sales network and build a more efficient sales process,” explains Billy.
It took three years for his plan to come to fruition, but by 2004, Midland Metal was operating in the black once again. Many family business owners agree that the most influential changes in their companies are not market or industry-related, but are instead personal in nature. According to Billy, this is the case with Midland Metal. In 2003, mid-way through implementing his business plan, he joined the executive coaching and business leadership group, Vistage.
“Meeting with other business owners in an organized forum helps me process issues. Other members share their experiences and it is a huge help in running Midland Metal. It is one of the best investments I’ve ever made,” states Billy.
2006 brought another company milestone in the form of a new employee who happened to share the family name. The fact that Jim Hodes came from one of Midland Metal’s competitors and had over 25 years of operations experience made him the right person for improving the company’s operational focus.
“I had never met Jim before, but he ended up being my third cousin. His expertise has made all the difference in positioning the company for growth,” says Billy.
There is an expectation today that successful companies should give back to the community and Midland Metal takes its civic duty seriously.
“There has never been a company philanthropy policy. We’ve never needed one. Everyone here just does it,” explains Billy.
Sharon Colbert, now in her 12th year as accounting manager, takes charge of adopting a family from the Bishop Sullivan Center each holiday season. After getting to know the family, the Midland Metal employees bestow them with gifts, cash donations, gift cards and a special holiday meal. However, one annual project did not satisfy the staff’s generous spirit.
Midland Metal is a proud benefactor of the Halo Foundation’s Gulu Girls Home in Uganda, Africa. Gulu is an orphanage for girls whose parents were slain in the war-torn area. With the monthly support of Midland Metal, girls ranging in age from 7 to 12 are provided with food, clothing, caring housemothers and the opportunity to attend school where they will learn an entrepreneurial trade. An amazing 90 percent of the girls go on to attend secondary school and university, while some are trained as ambassadors for the Foundation. It is a cause near and dear to Billy’s heart. He intends to visit Gulu this summer with his 12-year-old daughter and 13-year-old son.
Billy is not ready to pack his bags for Africa quite yet. Now that the planning and strategy portion of his business plan is complete, he and his team are rolling up their sleeves in preparation for the next phase — accelerating profitable growth, especially in the west and central regions of the United States. With a solid sales infrastructure in place and adding more product lines, Midland Metal is primed for organic, conservative increases in revenue. If Billy has his way, that means reaching the $25 million sales mark as well as achieving his “big, hairy, audacious goal” to be the hallmark in their industry over the next 10 years.
And all the while, he is keeping a watchful eye on the up-and-coming third generation for the next Midland Metal owner.
For more information regarding Midland Metal, visit their web site at http://www.MidlandMetal.com or contact Karrin Huhmann directly