The industrial distributor has found many conduits for its community service aspirations over the years. Star himself was motivated to advance the company’s charitable giving after his mother died of pancreatic cancer in 2008. “We decided at Engman-Taylor we’re going to do something positive to memorialize her,” he says. The company and its employees became involved in cancer organizations and events. Engman-Taylor supports the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network and is the primary sponsor for the PurpleStride run/walk at Miller Park and Fight for Air Climb in Milwaukee.
Although Engman-Taylor is a regional, niche business, the company’s reputation and capabilities have made it competitive with large national and international industrial distributors. That has led to offers to buyout Engman-Taylor over the years. When Star was younger he used to dream of someday selling the family business and getting that big payday. But his father always cautioned him against such shortsighted decisions. “My dad would always tell me, ‘Rick, forget about it. Engman-Taylor is our family business and it’s going to be your engine to do other things.’”
Star never understood what his father was getting at until Engman-Taylor became involved in cancer organizations and community groups. Now the whole company is engaged. Employees regularly participate in the events and suggest other organizations Engman-Taylor should become involved in. “I don’t think that we’ve ever declined one of our team member’s request to support a cause,” Star says.
The company has grown to five locations – two in Wisconsin, two in Illinois and one in North Carolina – enabling Engman-Taylor to serve the midwestern and southeastern United States. Star says the company is looking to possibly add more facilities in either Kentucky or Tennessee to expand its customer base and connect its two geographic markets.
“Basically, we can make anything as long as it fits in a 12 by 12 by 12-inch cube and made out of a plastic-type material,” Star says. That capability is critical for Engman-Taylor’s customers, many of which are Rust Belt manufacturers still using equipment and machinery built 50 years ago that is no longer being supported. “If a machine part breaks, they may have no source to get a replacement,” Star says. “We can take that part, scan it, reverse engineer it and build a copy in a day.”
There’s been a lot of interest in Engman-Taylor’s 3-D printing capability in the year since it was introduced, Star adds. The customer base for 3-D printing is still in its infancy, but the company is already being careful not to duplicate the 3-D printing services offered by its clients. “We’ve got to make sure they know we’re not competing with them,” Star says of preserving those relationships.
Engman-Taylor’s mission is to help its customers produce the highest-quality components at the lowest-possible cost. To accomplish that, the company works closely with its clients to find efficiencies. Engman-Taylor has a customer cost-savings team comprised of product specialists who support the sales team. “We try to show our customers how to use the product in the most efficient way,” Star says.
The customer cost-savings team also uses survey tools to help buyers dig into their operations and discover hidden ways to cut expenses. For the largest customers, Engman-Taylor even sends employees to work full-time alongside the client’s staff. Boat motor manufacturer Mercury Marine, for example, has eight Engman-Taylor employees who work with the company to engineer manufacturing improvements, handle transactions and provide vending equipment to create a smoother-running and less costly operation.
That partnership continues to thrive as Mercury Marine has come to better understand the value of Engman-Taylor’s hands-on service. At one point, Mercury Marine dropped Engman-Taylor in favor of a competitor that offered lower prices. But the company soon saw its total cost rise and realized there was more to Engman-Taylor’s involvement than just a price chart. “Mercury discovered that they didn’t get the technical support so they brought us back,” Star says.
The ideal Engman-Taylor customer, Star says, is one that understands that value and puts a premium on reducing overall cost. “Everybody wants low price, and that’s what we try to give them,” Star adds. “But we really target those who want to use our services to also lower cost.”