From ‘One Man and a Van’ to an international global leader: discover the success story of Smitty’s Supply 

Through a focus on delivering top-quality products at competitive prices, Smitty’s Supply, Inc. (Smitty’s) stands as one of the world’s leading manufacturers of lubricants and related products. Active in the commercial, industrial, automotive, and private label sectors, Smitty’s has established itself as a trusted provider of quality passenger car motor oils, heavy duty engine oils, industrial oil, grease, brake and power steering fluids, gear oil, and antifreeze. Offering a portfolio of over 300 products, Smitty’s also manufactures products for national organizations under their proprietary brand names. Backed by its skilled technical staff, Smitty’s ensures its customers’ products are protected against oxidation, rust, and wear, thus keeping their equipment running smoothly. Cory Trahan, Creative Director, tells us more about the company’s inception. 

“Starting as a small warehouse by Edgar Ray Smith in 1969, Smitty’s has since grown into a global industry leader. In the company’s early days, Edgar soldArial image of Smitty's Supply warehouse miscellaneous products from his van directly to various accounts such as garages, country stores, and auto part stores. Edgar was renowned for being sensitive to his clients’ needs and working hard to meet and exceed them. As a result, after being on the road for a short time, his customers affectionately referred to him as ‘Smitty’, prompting him to adopt it as his business name,” he begins. 

Over its 55 year long journey, Smitty’s has consistently expanded and upgraded its range of products and services. “Today, our product portfolio encompasses passenger car motor and heavy-duty motor oils, transmission fluids, tractor and industrial hydraulic fluids, small engine mixing oils, Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF), specialty fluids, aerosols, pour chemicals, windshield washer fluids, and much more. Our capabilities and services have also significantly developed to meet industry standards.” 

Smitty’s has also established a strategic global presence, Cory continues. “Our headquarters are in Roseland, Louisiana, serving as the central hub for our operations. Roseland also houses one of three extensive manufacturing facilities producing a wide range of lubricants. The second manufacturing plant is based in Vicksburg, Mississippi with the third being in Hammond, Indiana. In addition to warehouses in Roseland, Smitty’s maintains multiple warehouse locations in Shreveport, Louisiana, and Jasper, Texas, strategically positioned to enhance distribution efficiency across the regions we serve. 

“Moreover, we operate a broad global distribution network covering approximately 90 countries, encompassing diverse industries such as automotive, industrial, agricultural, and marine. By combining our central manufacturing hub in Louisiana and our extensive distribution network, we are empowered to effectively cater to a wide geographical area, both domestically and internationally,” he adds.  

Vertical integration 

To set itself apart from the competition, Smitty’s Supply, Inc. operates under complete vertical integration, providing a turnkey solution. Its in-house plastics department utilizes blow-mold and injection mold machines to produce over 54 million bottles annually ranging from 2.6 ounce to five-gallon pails. Additionally, its on-site grease manufacturing facility generates 30 million pounds of grease each year. With multiple production lines, 11 million gallons of bulk storage, and over 14.4+ acres of warehouse space under roof, Smitty’s direct ownership of all supply chain stages ensures efficient operations from start to finish. Moreover, its state-of-the-art on-site laboratory guarantees rigorous quality testing on each product’s makeup. Its dedicated trucking company, BIG 4 Trucking, includes a fleet of over 120 vehicles, which further enhances its logistical capabilities both locally and long haul.  

Inside Smitty's Supplies warehouseTechnology upgrade 

Cane Guin, Vice President of Operations at Smitty’s, joins the conversation to discuss a recent Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system upgrade. “In July 2023, we successfully implemented IFS Cloud across five locations. IFS offers much broader functionality and configurability than our previous ERP system. Therefore, business processes can be managed within a single system, instead of several standalone applications and spreadsheets. One notable feature is the embedded Warehouse Management System (WMS) functionality, which wasn’t present in our previous ERP. This addition fosters a more controlled workflow, driving better accuracy throughout our warehousing and shipping operations. 

“After nine months of using IFS, Smitty’s logistics operations have surpassed pre-IFS levels in inventory and shipping accuracy, as well as fill rate performance. The cloud-based system has proven to be highly reliable, with operational system uptime improving. This has resulted in minimized disruptions and boosted productivity in both our office and floor operations. In addition, IFS is relentlessly being refined with additional functions and capabilities. As Smitty’s becomes more acclimated with IFS and these upgrades are implemented, we anticipate a series of continuous improvements that will deliver even greater value to our business,” he informs 

At Smitty’s, company culture and employee retention are a strong focus. “Associate engagement and retention rank within the top three priorities of our company today,” opens Jon Lorio, Chief Operating Officer. “We have adopted a multi-level approach to tackle the evolving challenges posed by labor shortages. For example, the business is heavily involved in local universities and community colleges to connect with young talent. Additionally, our recruitment strategy prioritizes internal referrals while also utilizing external platforms. To ensure employee retention, every month we strive to recognize and appreciate them. One aspect many companies often overlook is involving employees in day-to-day decision-making. This approach fosters buy-in with company initiatives, and we actively strive to involve the entire team when making decisions,” he ends. 

Looking to the future, Smitty’s continued investment in its workforce, safety, and automation will surely drive further success in the years ahead.