PIRTEK’s team-oriented franchise structure means that when one business celebrates an achievement, the whole company does. One such achievement we are proud to celebrate is that of Craig and Lynette Heitkamp; owners of PIRTEK Midway and PIRTEK Plymouth, in Minnesota. This month we congratulate them on a PIRTEK career spanning 23 years and owning PIRTEK Midway for 20 of those years. We’re sharing some of Craig’s story and giving him the opportunity to reflect on his journey within the company’s franchise structure.
PIRTEK USA opened their Midway location in May of 1996. Located in St. Paul, Minnesota, the store was their first in the US – and one of the first businesses to offer mobile industrial hose repair and replacement services. At the time, Craig was working for a hose distributor in Minneapolis which dealt mostly with the construction industry. He excelled during his ten-year stint there, learning all aspects of the business. Shortly after PIRTEK’s opening, a mutual friend of the owner approached Craig and asked if he’d like to get involved with the company. He set up a meeting with PIRTEK USA, where Craig made it clear that his intention was to eventually purchase the franchise from them. The meeting went well, and he joined the PIRTEK team in June of 1997 as a Technical Sales Representative. With a drive to succeed, Craig quickly moved up to the position of General Manager and eventually purchased PIRTEK Midway in August 2000. After growing the business and developing lasting relationships with customers, in 2002 the Heitkamp’s purchased a second established location; PIRTEK Plymouth. His wife, Lynette, continued her career outside of PIRTEK until 2006 when she joined the team performing various administrative duties.
According to Craig, it gives him great satisfaction knowing “that he was very influential in the growth and success of PIRTEK Midway, since he was a part of it from the very beginning.” Located at 2125 Energy Park Drive, St. Paul, MN, the business has enjoyed steady growth over the years. The location earned the brand’s award for top sales in the US in 2019 – a testament to the fact that they continue to find new customers after so many years. Their location in the Twin Cities means a consistent flow of customers across multiple industries, such as manufacturing, plastic injection molding, recycling, construction and many more. Craig says that there has been a shift in thinking amongst their customers since PIRTEK’s inception. He explains, “there may have been hesitation to implement PIRTEK’s way of delivering mobile hose replacement services when we first entered the market, it didn’t take long for customers recognize the value, realizing how convenient it is, and that it saves them time and money.” It also helped that some of Craig’s customers followed him from his previous employer, to continue their relationship with him at his new PIRTEK locations. Some of those customers still rely on Craig’s services today; relationships that he has nurtured for close to 30 years.
PIRTEK’s franchise structure has worked very well for Craig because, according to him, “he doesn’t want to be the guy to figure everything out.” By this, he means that the blueprint that PIRTEK USA has developed for the franchises daily operations has given him the guidance that he needs in terms of technology, inventory management, purchasing, marketing and more – so that he can focus on what he’s good at – managing people, pushing business and driving sales. Craig refers to his career as a PIRTEK franchise owner as “very rewarding,” and says that every day is interesting and holds something new. In his words, “it takes a special type of person to be a PIRTEK franchise owner because most days you start with no appointments. You don’t have any customers until the phone rings each day.” He goes on to explain that “with experience and being in the business for a while you develop the trust that those calls are coming.” He attributes this to the fact that PIRTEK is so valuable and essential to so many industries.
Craig’s partnership with PIRTEK USA has been very fruitful. He and Lynette are now in the position to enjoy the flexibility that comes with hiring managers to run their businesses, while they oversee operations from afar. They can travel and spend time with their daughter while the reliable team they have created at each location ensures productivity and keeps everything running smoothly. Craig acknowledges his team of technicians and other staff as a primary key to his success. He says that his commission-based pay structure ensures that when the business does well, his employees do too. This is proven by the fact that both PIRTEK Midway and PIRTEK Plymouth have excellent employee retention – two employees have been with the business since Craig took over, and many have been there for five years or longer. Craig compares each of his team members to PIRTEK’s logo – a cog. He explains that if you remove one tooth, the cog in the hose crimper will no longer work. He says it is the same with employees – “if you remove one person, the system no longer runs smoothly.” That is why he believes it is so important to design the right team.
Craig emphasizes that he has put in a lot of time, effort, and hard work to get where he is today. He clarifies that it’s not a “get rich quick scheme,” and that new franchisees must be willing to wear many hats and be a team player throughout the life of their business. While he is content and enjoying his current position as owner of his two Minnesota PIRTEK franchises, Craig says he looks forward to eventually selling the business and retiring, with the knowledge that “he built the best PIRTEK in the country.”