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Outside box thinking fuels FloStor Engineering

From opening day on, FloStor Engineering Inc. has rarely been accused of thinking inside the box.

Against most every probability rule of American business logic, this tiny Northern California material handler has steadily grown to become a potent player in the industry. Some companies have more personnel working in their warehouses alone than FloStor has on its entire payroll, but Robert Weeks' Haywood, Calif., company has defied all odds to become a system, service and idea provider that “A-list” American companies like FedEx, Dole Foods, Walgreen Co. and General Motors trust and work with repeatedly.

Who saw FloStor coming? Well, Bob Weeks did from day one. The secret to FloStor's thriving for 31 years in a challenging industry that eats up and spits out those without a survival plan is the company's fearless ability to chart, dictate and mandate its own destiny by playing by its own rules. As the Journal of the Material Handling Equipment Distributors Association wrote in an exam piece on the company, “FlorStor Engineering has a reputation for thinking, designing and building outside-the-box solutions.”

FlorStor prides itself on providing creative solutions both simple and complex to meet the varied challenges their extremely diverse clients face. Weeks, who launched his one-time startup in 1983 from a spare room in the San Francisco area (a place famous as the home base for fearless American startups turned industry giants), saw systems integration as a growing market and the path his company could take to great things. But who knew an unknown company with a payroll that numbers in the double digits still today could transform into a powerful industry player?

Well, Bob Weeks – inspired greatly by Hewlett Packard co-founder and fellow big dreamer Bob Packard – did. And Weeks' had the game plan and team to take his business model off the page and put it into profitable action.

It started with the company's driving commandments of success: always think outside the box and do the right thing. FloStor based its existence on products that quickly caught on with customers, who recognized the company's mission and high standard of service. Weeks recruited business mavericks like himself who refused to go by the traditional business book. Weeks sought out the ideas and advice of everyone inside his company and formed a systems sales group built with imaginative, creative, ambitious and enthusiastic sales people. The team is responsible for all phases of FloStor's material handling system integration, including system design and coordination with project management, installation and service.

FloStor's expertise in conveyors, carousels, ASRS systems, software controls and management software quickly became well known. Soon, satisfied clients were lining up in Northern California and Nevada. The company formed an extremely successful partnership with Northern California Millrights and built top-notch installation and electrical groups.

Meanwhile, new ideas are being formulated daily by a little company that doubles as an industry think tank. “Where can we go next?” is the most popular question asked at company headquarters. And Weeks expects everyone on the company payroll to provide the answers. As chief executive officer Dave Rebata said, “I am constantly challenged to diversify my knowledge as well as my responsibilities here at FloStor.”

Bob Weeks' mission of turning customers into friends has turned his great American business idea to a wildly successful reality. The performance expectation at FloStor is to take care of customers at any cost, and the company has been taking that mandate forward every day since opening day 1983.

FloStor's regional impact is now felt nationally with its expansion to Nashville and acquisition of major name clients north, east, south and west.

As they plot the 2014 chapter of their company's story, Bob Weeks and his FloStor team are still learning, still seeking to develop their industry's next great idea and thinking everywhere but inside the box.

Clete Campbell is a freelance journalist with 16 years of daily newspaper experience.   E-mail editorial@mhwmg.com to contact Clete.

 
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