In what is sometimes considered a "commodity" business, it is highly unusual for a company to make all – or even most – of its purchases from a single supplier. But that's exactly where Sico America, Incorporated, a worldwide leader in mobile folding products (such as tables, stages, dance floors, and wall beds), is headed with E.R. Wagner Casters & Wheels.
"Our long history has been to use multiple suppliers," explains Harry Levey, Sico's Vice President & Director of Purchasing. "But E.R. Wagner has changed our thinking. We're moving toward making E.R. Wagner our sole supplier of casters and wheels – or as close to 100 percent as is reasonable and feasible within their product line."
How has E.R. Wagner done it? "It's essential, of course, that E.R. Wagner stocks the parts that Sico needs and consistently delivers them on time. But what truly elevates them from other suppliers is quality and responsiveness," Levey says.
"Our products are of the highest quality available. And our customers need to know that if they put one of our tables in their school, for instance, that it's not going to squeak when a teacher is talking, that it's not going to mark their brand-new gymnasium floor, and that the wheels are not going to lock up when they're moving it across the room. E.R. Wagner quality meets our very tough standards."
When Sico needs a specialized part for a new product, E.R. Wagner engineers work closely with Sico personnel to develop the best option. Thanks to a 20-year-plus relationship, knowledge levels are high – and so is trust.
"Their people often know what we need better than we do," Levey says. "Between us, we're able to get new parts and products on line rapidly. Which helps both of our businesses stay one step ahead of everyone else."
Kennedy Manufacturing Company estimates that a typical industrial mechanic walks about a mile a day going from job to job at the plant – pushing a tool cart every step of the way. That comes out to about 300 miles in a year (even more when overtime and multiple shifts are involved) – over floors that aren't usually as smooth as you'd like them to be.
"We build our industrial roller cabinets to last a lifetime, so we need to equip them with casters that are just as durable," says a spokesman for Kennedy Manufacturing. "E.R. Wagner is definitely up to the task. Their failure rate is essentially 'zero,' and their on-time delivery rating is more than 99 percent."
Kennedy industrial cabinets are equipped with easy-roll, low-drag, soft rubber casters that absorb the punishment typically dished out in an industrial environment. They are also built to withstand wet and corrosive conditions.
Beyond the quality of the casters, the spokesman says Kennedy appreciates the service and support they get from E.R. Wagner.
"They're just a great company to work with," he says. "They have worked closely with our engineers when we need new casters, and they always follow through and do what they say they're going to do."
All that's transparent to the cabinet's end-user, of course. But it matters a great deal when facing another long day on the plant floor. Because the last thing a mechanic needs is to be sidelined by the very equipment he relies upon to keep the plant's other equipment running smoothly.