Taking a look back over 30 years in business, Jimmy Hardin sees continual evolution of H&M Service, Inc.
“Our company began as a retail sales, service, rental and parts company with the emphasis on service,” said Hardin, one of the founders of the Blacksburg, South Carolina, company. “The emphasis now is in the wholesale sales market.”
The retail experience has helped in the new emphasis. The focus on service helped the company grow by word of mouth.
“The company’s mission is to provide the best possible service to our customers as well as be a great customer to our vendors. We also strive to be a good company to work for, to help our employees to be the best they can be,” said Hardin, who is president and sole owner of H&M Service.
The company began in 1981, when Hardin founded it with his father and a co-worker. In 1992, one of the founders, Marion Moore, sold his third to pursue another business.
“In 1998, we purchased property in Blacksburg, South Carolina, to build a larger facility. With the continued growth after our move, we doubled the size of our facility one year later,” Hardin said.
Remaining founder Ed Hardin, the current president’s father, retired in 2001 and sold his half of the business to Jimmy. And in 2006, “we bought an additional four acres adjoining the property and built a 10,000 square foot addition to prepare ourselves for enlarging our wholesale market,” Jimmy Hardin said.
Hardin learned from the ground up. He started by steam cleaning and painting forklifts, then became a shop mechanic and road mechanic, repairing forklifts for 20 years.
Hardin describes H&M Service as “a very laid back company” with nine employees. It has diversified and moved with the times throughout its three decades.
“One of the biggest challenges that we face is the computerization of the new forklifts,” Hardin said. “The manufacturers keep the software and maintenance information ‘secret’ so it is becoming harder and harder to make technical repairs on late model equipment. This will lead to an additional loss in profits for the wholesalers or higher costs for used equipment to the end users.”
The industry will continue to evolve, and H&M Service will, too.
“The next five years will show continual change in the forklift industry due to the economic decline,” Hardin said. “I foresee less profits being made in all aspects of the industry.
“Over the last five years, many of our independent forklift companies throughout the US have gone out of business due to the poor economy and the moving of our manufacturers overseas. That means a smaller market and tougher competition for wholesalers.”
Mary Glindinning is a freelance writer who has worked at daily and weekly newspapers for more than 20 years. She lives in rural Shullsburg, Wis. You may contact her by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.