On June 5, 2013, IBT is celebrating 45 years serving the Joplin, Missouri area with a Customer Appreciation & Technology Expo. 35 vendors will show off new technology and MRO (maintenance, repair, and operations) solutions—along with food, door prizes, and giveaways. A free BBQ lunch buffet will be served from 11:00 a.m. — 1:30 p.m.
“The diversity of vendors and technology we’re going to have here is very interesting,” said Rick Gerling, the Regional Manager for IBT who oversees the Joplin branch. “It’s a great lunch, a great way to socialize, and an opportunity to see new products.”
“It’s a great way to meet the manufacturers,” said Tim Ferguson, one of the Account Managers of Outside Sales for the Joplin branch. “There will be several products on display, plus the opportunity to learn how to reduce your plant’s costs and decrease your downtime.”
Opened in 1968
IBT opened the Joplin branch in 1968. Since then, it has occupied a total of three different buildings.
John Hughes started at IBT in Joplin in 1976. After working IBT gigs in Arkansas and at corporate headquarters in Kansas, he moved back to Joplin in 1983 as Store Manager—and has stayed ever since.
Even after 30 years, Hughes said he still enjoys the work. “I love helping customers solve problems,” he said.
The current building opened in 1992. It occupies 10,000 sq. ft. of space, with 3,000 sq. ft. of office space. 11 employees work at the branch, including Hughes and several other employees, many who have been there for over 25 years.
“We have a very loyal and dedicated team here,” Hughes said. “This Joplin crew loves working for IBT, and IBT has been good to us.”
A “Very Busy Branch”
Hughes added that the Joplin branch is one of IBT’s larger branches, processing 12,000 invoices each year. They routinely stock 3,000 different products.
“This is a very busy branch,” Hughes said. “Last year alone, we billed 23,000 line items.”
The store averages 250-350 active customer accounts annually, with a healthy dose of walk-in business. “Most of our business is done by phone or email,” said Hughes. “But we also have at least 100 loyal walk-in customers who visit the store regularly.”
Account Manager Ferguson credits this success to an atmosphere of constant learning. “Our continual training keeps us up-to-date on new and upcoming products,” he said. “We never stop learning at IBT.”
Teamwork and Camaraderie
Bill Burlingame started out as a customer of IBT in Joplin, working as a purchasing agent for a now-defunct fertilizer manufacturer. He’s starting his 33rd year at IBT.
“I enjoy the teamwork and camaraderie of the team here,” Burlingame said. “It feels like a family atmosphere, which makes it enjoyable.”
Burlingame calls on many of Joplin’s 350 customers on a regular basis to proactively troubleshoot any issues, and keep their downtime to a minimum—including longtime customer Leggett & Platt.
“It’s very rewarding to know that we’re providing a valuable service to the marketplace by helping customers maximize their uptime and be more productive,” Burlingame said. “Because I was a purchasing agent before, I understand that urgency. I know how frustrating it is when you’re under the gun, trying to get something done quickly.”
Ferguson also started out as a client of IBT’s, working in the Maintenance and Inventory Control department of TAMKO Building Products for ten years. At the time, he said, IBT was his “go-to supplier.”
“It’s a great feeling knowing that we have the best of the best at IBT,” Ferguson said. “It’s a fast-paced job, but I wouldn’t want to work with any other crew. I know my customers feel that they are a part of our extended family, too.”
Ferguson’s territory covers southwest Missouri, southeast Kansas, and northeast Oklahoma. He currently supports 80+ accounts, including Taylor Products Company, General Mills, Aryzta, Bagcraft, and TAMKO, an account he shares with Burlingame.
“Plants are always looking for new and better solutions, and the Joplin team is ready and willing to help,” he said.
Supplies for Leggett & Platt
Don Thompson, a Senior Purchasing Agent with the Leggett & Platt facility in Carthage, Missouri, knows that urgency well. His team supplies machinery and replacement parts to Leggett & Platt locations across the country—a task that equals pressure to produce.
“We have a lot of urgency here. Everything in our operation should have been done three days ago,” Thompson said. “IBT is the number one supplier we turn to when we need parts quickly.”
Thompson has worked with Burlingame, Customer Service Specialist Kevin Copeland, and the entire IBT team in Joplin for 21 years to source the power transmission parts, bearings, and other products they need for their plant.
“IBT is very knowledgeable, and they help us in any way they can,” he said. “The most important thing to me is that the people I deal with are very dependable and upfront in giving me the information I need.”
Solutions for Taylor Products
Calvin Schnoebelen is the Operations and Controls Manager for Taylor Products Company, Inc. He’s been using IBT in Joplin for 25 years for engineering assistance, product selection, and sourcing a wide variety of supplies—such as bearings, bushings, and conveyors.
“IBT has been more than just a product vendor,” Schnoebelen said. “They supply us with solutions.”
Schnoebelen likes IBT’s direct involvement. “They have as much accountability as we do in this process,” he said. “It’s a real relationship, somebody we trust.”
Regional Manager Rick Gerling agreed. He oversees the operations of six stores for IBT, including Joplin.
“This team’s ability to take care of the customer is amazing,” Gerling said. “They really look at things from the customer’s perspective, and do it in a no-nonsense fashion.”
Gerling said that IBT is looking to grow its business in the Joplin area. The branch recently expanded its sales territory, and added a third salesperson.
“The Joplin branch is a perennial top performer, both for my region and for IBT,” Gerling said. “They’re also a great bunch of guys whose skills and talents complement each other well.”