ARTICLE: Heavy industry uptick means success for Pirtek in Ontario

This article first appeared in the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin

By Neil Nisperos

With the heavy-industry economy picking up again in the Inland Empire, a local equipment supplier is experiencing significant growth.

Pirtek has a store in Ontario that supplies heavy industries in the Inland Empire with hydraulic hoses, which are frequently replaced in transport and construction vehicles, and manufacturing plants. The business has seen a 125 percent increase in revenue in the first quarter of this year, according to Pirtek.

The sales increase speaks to the growth experienced around the Inland Empire, particularly in construction and logistics.

The store, under its current management, reopened in Ontario in 2012 and since has experienced similar growth year after year, said manager Gil Moyers.

“Logistics is big and the construction industry is doing well,” Moyers said. “There’s more commercial development in places like Perris and out around Milliken and Haven (avenues). Construction is an important factor with the success of any Pirtek center.”

The Inland Empire has experienced 3.7 percent economic growth in the past year — far exceeding initial estimates. The two-county region is expecting 1.5 million more people in the next 20 years, with logistics poised to remain a key economic engine, experts say.

“The construction industry has picked up in the last couple of years and that’s what we can attribute most of our success too,” Moyers said. “In the manufacturing industry, production is starting to pick up again and we’re getting into lots of the local manufacturing plants … injection molding type industries, that’s picked up and we’re starting to get into those plants as well.”

Redlands-based economist John Husing, who focuses on the Inland Empire, said logistics continues to be very strong in the region, followed by construction, while manufacturing has experienced anemic growth.

Jordan Levine, director of economic research for Los Angeles-based Beacon Economics, said the Inland Empire is poised for even more growth.

“Relatively affordable housing is going to drive more population growth and stimulate local businesses,” Levine said. “Nonfarm employment has seen positive growth uninterrupted since mid-2011. It’s not necessarily growing as fast as we would hope to see, but it continues to move in the right direction and it’s gaining steam from a year or two ago.”

“Things are getting better,” said Moyers. “People are getting back to work. There’s more productivity. When there’s more productivity, there’s more need for our product because people are using their equipment.”

Husing said manufacturing is poised to be a major growth industry for the region, but blamed the regulatory environment in California for companies locating elsewhere.

“Last year we added 132 manufacturing jobs,” Husing said. “That compares to 8,800 in logistics and over 6,000 in construction. It hasn’t really grown very much this year. The most recent data seem to indicate up to 300 more this year, so there has been some small growth but it’s certainly not consistent with the competitive advantages this area has in terms of the nature of our labor force as well as the cost of facilities. The problem is we’re in California and our state policies make it very difficult to compete from this state.”

Moyers said an owner of equipment or a vehicle used in heavy industry will spend on average $1,000 a year for hydraulic hosing equipment and repair.

“For our company, it’s always been busy,” said Frank Lugue, a mechanic with Heavy Equipment Rentals in Corona. “I know it’s picked up in the last few months, if not years.”