A fourth-generation, family-operated business, Hulbert Supply is focused on providing superior-quality products, cutting-edge design, competitive prices and unparalleled service to customers. A cycle truck transfers product daily between the six branch locations in New York and Vermont, thus ensuring that customers receive their orders in a timely manner.
“In the grand scheme of things, we are a small wholesaler,” Miner says. “To compete, we have to be very flexible, and we must have employees who are knowledgeable and genuinely want to help customers solve problems. Our employees are key for us, and we believe we have the best employees in the region. We do a lot of training to get our employees up to speed and keep them on top of the latest and greatest trends in the industry.”
Each Hulbert Supply location tends to be a little bit different. Based on regional characteristics, the company’s locations may carry some product lines that can be specific to an individual market, whether by customer preference or local codes.
“Those kinds of things vary,” Miner says. “We just try to adapt based on our customers and regional markets. When we see new products that would be a good fit in a certain branch, we jump on them.”
In addition to getting to know its markets, Hulbert Supply has also embarked on efforts to ensure strong working ties with vendors. The company isn’t just focused on the one-time sale. It wants long-term relationships with vendors and customers.
“Ties to vendors are things you build over years. With some, we’ve had ties for 30 years or more,” Miner says. “With new vendors, we may try some items to see if they are a good fit for us. We also belong to buying groups that carry high-quality brands and products, and they help us to compete with the nationals in terms of buying power. We belong to the Omni Buying Group, the Blue Hawk Distribution Cooperative and the Luxury Products Group. We also value our relationship with the American Supply Association. The annual meetings we have with these groups provide us with important opportunities to meet one-on-one with our vendor partners, as well as other wholesalers like us.”
Among the investment areas that Hulbert Supply has focused on is the purchase of a new computer system and the training of employees on how to use it. Miner says the system has proven to be a huge asset, and the company continues to find new ways to make the most of its capabilities and gain more knowledge through the information it provides.
In addition, the company is working on upgrading showrooms, and has recently purchased a new location in Malone, N.Y. Beyond that, Hulbert Supply has worked on optimizing daily truck deliveries while ensuring strong inventory oversight and diversifying product offerings.
Looking ahead, the company will look for growth by striving to build on its customer base at each store location, trying to expand sales territories and finding ways to grow recognition of the company name in the market. But in a world where many of the products sold by Hulbert Supply are readily available through competing wholesalers, big-box outlets and e-commerce sites, the company has to set itself apart based on experience. The company must be as competitive as it can in terms of pricing, but success hinges on continuing to have knowledgeable people on staff who can help customers find the right solutions for their installation and project needs.
“Constant training for employees and contractors is important because products change rapidly,” Miner says. “Managing inventory also requires hard work, but we will continue to rely on our many long-term employees. We want to keep them trained and happy, as this is a family oriented business and we think of our employees as our extended family.”