Oct 1, 2006 12:00 PM
TANK TRUCK parts distribution and installation operations at Girard Equipment Inc just got a big boost. The finishing touches are being applied to two new distribution facilities in New Jersey and Texas.
In New Jersey, Girard Equipment moved the parts distribution business into its own building in Linden, and that is a big change. Previously, the distribution operation shared quarters with Girard's manufacturing unit that makes cargo tank components, such as pressure-relief vents. The new Texas location in La Porte marks the first move outside the Northeast for the parts distribution business.
“We believe the steps we took with these new facilities will significantly improve our ability to serve our customers,” says Tim Girard, president of Girard Equipment. “Customers have been asking for enhanced service capabilities. The New Jersey facility, in particular, will boost efficiency and improve quality control.”
Michael Girard, vice-president of sales-southern region, adds that the new tank truck parts distribution facility in Texas was opened to serve a key market. “A number of customers had asked us to open a new location,” he says. “So far, the market response has exceeded our expectations.”
It is sometimes forgotten today, but Girard Equipment actually got its start in 1952 as an industrial hose distributor. From that platform, the company added lines of products (such as pumps and tank hardware) for the growing petro-chemical tank trailer industry.
Hose fittings were the first hardware items manufactured in house. Girard Equipment even developed a tank-cleaning spinner that is still available. The pressure- and vacuum-relief valves that define the company today came later.
For more than 35 years (1965-2006), the truck parts distributorship and the tank hardware manufacturing operation shared the same location, most recently a 20,000-sq-ft building in Linden, New Jersey.
Girard Equipment's new tank truck equipment distributorship is about a half mile from the manufacturing plant. The 6,000-sq-ft building that the distribution operation moved into has a shop with three tractor-trailer bays. Six mechanics handle installation of pumps, blowers, and other hardware on trucks and tank trailers.
“Our new distribution facility in Linden has a CT number, and we want it to develop into a cargo tank repair shop,” Tim Girard says. “It's not a code tank repair shop at this time, but that is in our plans.”
Girard Equipment chose a Houston suburb for the Texas location. The distribution operation occupies a leased 3500-sq-ft building with a two-bay shop. The facility has been open for business since June.
“We've been busy since the day we opened this branch location,” Mike Girard says. “Right now the entire staff consists of me and Brent Beamesderfer, general manager of the La Porte location. We will add mechanics and clerical staff to meet market needs.
“We do pump and compressor installations, and right now Brent and I are the shop crew. It's actually been a good exercise for me. I've gained insight in how to make these installations as efficient and cost-competitive as possible. All of this will help with problem solving in the field when I'm making sales calls on customers in the future.
“We're finding new ways to fine-tune the product pump installation process. We're doing some fabrication. For instance, we're making our own mounting brackets for pumps and compressors.”
The La Porte shop focuses on tractors and straight trucks. “We don't have room for trailers here,” Mike Girard says.
Another focus is warehousing. Both of the new distribution shops have ample warehousing space for the wide range of tank truck hardware and components handled by Girard Equipment. In La Porte, inventory build-up is in the final stages, and the company is installing specialized equipment for hose and coupling assembly and vent testing.
“Warehousing was something we needed badly in the Houston area,” Mike Girard says. “We had only limited inventory previously. We relied on a lot of overnight shipments from New Jersey.”
Customers throughout North America can now be serviced through both the New Jersey and Texas locations. The benefit of that is significantly reduced shipping time for all of the products distributed by Girard Equipment. “We believe this will help strengthen the network of tank equipment distributors that handle our products, such as vapor recovery valves,” Mike Girard says.
The New Jersey and Texas locations handle the full range of Girard Equipment products for tank trailers, tank containers, and rail tankcars. Other products distributed by Girard Equipment include Betts chemical outlets and domelids, Blackmer pumps and compressors, Quincy compressors, Ranger pumps, product hoses (Dan Tec, Gates Rubber Co, Kanaflex, and Kuriyama), hose couplings (Civacon, Evertite Coupling Co, and OPW Engineered Systems), petroleum drop elbows (Civacon, Emco Wheaton and Evertite), and loading rack components from OPW Engineered Systems.
“Girard Equipment has been in business for more than 50 years as both a distributor and manufacturer of hardware for the liquid bulk transport sector,” Mike Girard says. “The new facilities show that we plan to be around much longer. However, we realize that we are only as good as our last component installation. We also realize that our customers want good service, professional installation, and a good price. We never forget what it takes to be successful in this industry.”
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