Hynes Industries

The Hynes Industries formula for success is simple: excellent customer service, quality products and on-time delivery. The execution of that formula, however, is a bit more complicated, especially considering the diversity of Hynes’ services and customer base. Hynes has been in the steel business since 1925 and today offers four distinct product lines: strip steel, custom roll formed steel shapes, specialty wire and flat wire, and its proprietary American-made slotted angle product, FlexAngle.

The company operates five plants totaling more than 270,000 square feet, and maintains a domestic steel inventory that exceeds 36 million pounds. It also maintains an on-time delivery rate that fluctuates mildly between 95 percent and 100 percent. Its steel is used in a number of applications, such as foodservice equipment, trucks and trailers, solar, hardware and storage.

“We can add a lot of value to metal,” explains Richard Evans, vice president of materials, “We are diversified in what we do with metal and because of that we have a very diversified customer base. It saves us from the huge ups and downs and kept us very steady over the years. That diversification has been key.”

Getting to Know You

Evans, who has been with Hynes for 28 years, says the investment to grow its capabilities and customer base has been well worth it, but it hasn’t been easy. It has taken a concerted effort from every department, including its supply chain, to make it happen. Hynes recognizes that a one-size-fits-all approach does not work in its business, so the employees go to great lengths to understand the big pictures of each industry and the minute details of every single customer.

“When we get into a new market that we feel we can expand into, we learn about what it takes to compete in those areas,” Evans says. “What type of planning do we need to put into place to respond to those customers’ needs?”

For instance, the company invested $2 million in a new roll form line that will allow it to produce larger cuts of steel than before, allowing it to get deeper into serving the solar and transportation markets.

“Running bigger sections allows us to penetrate new markets that we couldn’t previously,” Evans explains. “And doing things in-house allows us to serve these markets better. For instance, with solar, it’s a field where you don’t get a lot of lead-time. It takes time for them to get the order, but once they get it, they need it right now, so we have to respond quickly.”

Ear to the Market

The engineering and manufacturing departments ensure that Hynes can design and produce what its customers need. The materials department makes sure Hynes has the resources to do so. The company has an inventory of 15,000 tons of steel ready to go when needed and works with major mills to ensure a steady steel supply. It has 12-month contracts with four major mills that outline pricing structures and the amount of steel purchased each month. Right now, the supply chain team is negotiating terms for 2015. Hynes buys flat rolled, hot rolled, pickled, cold rolled and galvanized steel to be slit in its service centers or at a contracting center when it exceeds its own capacity. Evans says it’s important to monitor the steel industry and keep a close eye on trends happening among its customers to make prudent purchasing decisions.

“We stay tuned to the marketplace so we can know what the normal price of steel is, and then you do whatever you can to beat that,” Evans says. “In steel manufacturing, the majority of your cost is the cost of steel and if you can’t buy right, you can’t sell right. It’s critical from a purchasing standpoint that we buy right so that we can be competitive with our pricing to customers.”

One of the ways Hynes negotiates better pricing is by being the exemplary customer. Paying invoices on time and taking steel on time are desirable attributes that Evans says the company uses to “sell” itself to steel mills.

“It’s very important that we sell those truths to the mills,” he says. “We let them know that we are the kind of customer steel mills want.”