ARTICLE: The Hidden Millions in Hoses

This article originally appeared on 1851franchise.com
PIRTEK’s innovative approach to service sets it apart in the hydraulic hose business.
By Troy Kehoe

Quick: name a successful franchise operating in America.

You probably thought of a restaurant, right? Maybe a clothing brand? Or, perhaps you went out on a limb with a car care franchise?

They’re all great answers.

But, there’s one you probably didn’t think of: hydraulic hoses. Yes, hydraulic hoses.

Sound crazy? It sounds more like success to PIRTEK, the only brand of its kind in franchising in the United States. With nearly 400 units in 23 countries around the world and more than 30 years of experience in the hydraulic and pneumatic hose-replacement space, PIRTEK is able to offer unique service and logistics that keep business running.

“When people think of franchising, they don’t think of hydraulic hoses,” said PIRTEK Vice President of Franchise Development Gwyn O’Kane. “We’re unique in our industry, and we use that to our advantage.”

PIRTEK’s innovative approach to service has sets the brand apart. Under the PIRTEK model, knowledgeable service technicians meet customers at their job site, repairing a wide variety of hydraulic hose problems on the spot. That helps companies in industries from home building and road repair to truck driving minimize downtime and maximize profits.

PIRTEK was borne in Australia when Peter Duncan saw a need for an on-site business to business service. Duncan began operations from his garage, and quickly grew the brand into a distribution network. In the early 1980’s, Duncan was introduced to franchising and found the model made a lot more sense than the disconnected distribution network he had established.

“That model has been refined and perfected ever since,” O’Kane said. “And, we’ve stayed unique. We haven’t been copied. Every other franchise that’s out there, from gyms, to yogurt franchises, pizza parlors and more has had a copycat mentality in the United States. After more than 30 years, we know what works. So, when we open up in a new market, it’s very hard for our competitors to keep up.”

The brand is now poised for even more rapid growth following the recent purchase of the U.S. arm of the company by Glenn Duncan, son of PIRTEK founder Peter Duncan. O’Kane believes the acquisition has put PIRTEK in position to be in every market in the country, with up to 500 initial locations nationwide.

“We have either reached or are about to reach our tipping point,” O’Kane said. “We’ve had to create an infrastructure out of scratch here in the United States. At first, we had nothing to show anybody. Now, we have 54 U.S. locations, and owners who are successful. New candidates looking to start a business feel confident now. They can validate what we’re doing. As we come out of the recession, we feel like we’re in the perfect position.”

While PIRTEK’s ultimate goal is to expand recognition of its growing reputation as a world class brand, O’Kane is quick to point out that, at its core, PIRTEK is still a local company, particularly at the franchise level.

“We service local markets. We often secure municipal and local government contracts because we are a locally owned business, with individual owners who create good jobs in the community. But, we also deal on a regional, national and global basis, so we are in the unique position to leverage global buying power. That ultimately benefits our customers and the communities we serve,” O’Kane said.

Identifying who those loyal owners are is a selective process, but the upside to the business is high, O’Kane said.

“New candidates tend to target the fun or ‘sexy’ businesses. Owning a restaurant seems exciting, and some of them do reach their potential very quickly. But, they quickly discover their growth has peaked. So, they have to open more locations to make any significant money,” O’Kane said.

PIRTEK, on the other hand, offers owners a unique opportunity for steady growth.

“We’re not a get rich quick scheme, but income increases as you grow,” O’Kane said. “You’re not limited by location. You’re not limited by customers. Because we’re B2B, you can go out and make more customers. No matter how old a PIRTEK business is, you can always keep adding customers. And, you’re home on the weekends, and can go to your kid’s ballgame at night. We can offer a quality franchise opportunity and quality of life. All those things matter in the long run.”