ARTICLE: Oliver Romano: From military to Macomb County businessman

This article first appeared in The Macomb Daily

Oliver Romano learned about hydraulics when he served in the U.S. Navy, but as the general manager for Pirtek Hoses and Assemblies with locations in Sterling Heights, Madison Heights and Westland he is now taking what he learned in the military and growing his business.

Pirtek is a fluid power system leader in service and boasts nearly 400 units in 23 countries around the world with more than 30 years of experience in the hydraulic and pneumatic hose-replacement space.

Romano said Pirtek is powered by an industry-leading approach to sales and service and backed by a corporate center passionate about its franchisees and customers.

“We service manufacturing, construction, anything hydraulic driven like transportation, union garbage trucks. They spring a leak, a line, a hose a fitting: they break and we fix it,” Romano said Tuesday. “We have 16 vans on the road in southeast Michigan. Like road calls, we service anything in manufacturing to the construction job site. We can get to you within an hour.”

At Pirtek’s Sterling Heights location, Romano said customers can walk in like a hardware store and purchase hydraulic equipment or inquire about on-site hose service.

“We started out basic, but now we have grown to bigger accounts like TACOM and General Dynamics,” he said.

Romano said he and Pirtek President Eli Dorfman have formed quite a team as they look to expand to a fourth location in the Novi/Wixom area later this year. The first location opened in 1999 in Madison Heights.

“We are a unique service – all my guys have a lot of experience in heavy equipment, manufacturing equipment,” Romano said. “We are more specialized pipe fitting. We are involved with high pressure equipment, like air hoses with 6,000 pounds of pressure.”

Romano said he has been an expert in the technical hydraulic field since he joined the military. He joined the U.S. Navy in 1989 and was sent to a specialty school for two years to become a hydraulic technician.

“I did 10 years in the military,” he said. “I was hydraulic tech for missile launchers. They were installed on destroyers; I was a technician for hydraulics in that area. The combination of my electronics and the hydraulics, the equipment I was working with was all solid state of the art equipment. It was a benefit for me to service that type of equipment in the military.

“Everything is done with computers today,” he continued. “But it was a benefit for me to start when I did in both hydraulic and electronics, a big benefit when I retired from the Navy.”

After working on destroyers and missile launchers for 10 years, he retired from the Navy in 1999 and began his career with Pirtek.

By 2003 Romano become the general manager of three of Pirtek locations in Madison Heights, Sterling Heights and Westland.

“It built a lot of confidence in me,” he said. “I had enough confidence to understand basic hydraulic systems. Now, my operations managers – two are ex-military – and I hired them because of their experience. They also grew with company.”

Romano said the company has 28 employees at the three Pirtek locations.

In particular, Romano said Pirtek is currently involved with fuel lines for mine sweepers that U.S. Army troops are training with.

“They had the mine sweepers and the manufacturer had some fuel lines that were in time failing and they wanted a recommendation to come up with a replacement, and it worked out great,” said Romano, who lives in Commerce Township and is married with four children and two step-children.

Still, he said a “great relationship” with Pirtek has helped advance the business.

“Eli and I have a good relationship with each other,” Romano said of his working relationship with Eli Dorfman. “I’ve learned a lot from him about the business side. I had technical experience, but we have become partners and work together great.

“It is important for our business to grow,” he continued. “The morale among our employees is the best. We are growing our workmanship.”

For more information about Pirtek, visit