Iowa-based VB Seals was incorporated in 1993. At that time, the company operated from a small home office. The business grew as it shifted focus from seal representation to distribution to offer greater value to its customers. With growth came the need for more space, so the company moved to a popcorn seed farm that offered much larger offices and a warehouse. The farm served as VB Seals’ headquarters until July 1998 when the company moved to Reliable Street in north Ames, Iowa.
In September 2003, VB Seals moved to a building on Airport Road in south Ames to increase warehouse space. The expanded location was almost ten times larger than the previous facility. It enabled VB Seals to begin providing wipers, rod seals, buffer seals, and guide bands to one of the largest equipment manufacturers in the U.S. The customer requires sealing products for agriculture, construction, forestry, lawn care, and heavy-duty machinery.
Today, partnership with Hallite positions VB Seals for more growth focused on the hydraulic cylinder marketplace.
Distribution and technical partnership
By taking advantage of Hallite’s inventory stocking program, VB Seals can sell small quantities of products that typically require large minimums (i.e. 20 or 30 wipers) and deliver the same or next day. Customers benefit from a high level of customer service.
Brad Settle, vice president of outside sales for VB Seals said: “We can receive a request from a Hallite lead today, and quote and ship the product the same day. That’s one great thing about being a Premier Distributor. We’ve experienced increased on-time delivery, service, and technical support while unit prices generally remain the same.”
And it doesn’t stop with logistics. Distributors like VB Seals with technical expertise help Hallite overcome a critical need for technical support and engineering proposal partnership.
“VB Seals prides itself in being a technical distributor, so when we work with customers, we’re looking at how to help them in terms of quality service. Ultimately it comes down to price – how we purchase and distribute the parts – but we don’t want to just sell a part number. We want to sell a service that starts with technical support,” said Jim Van Bergen, the company’s president and CEO.
Technical collaboration is a critical focus and key benefit of the Premier Distributor Program. This is often manifested in joint visits that allow the distributor to co-present with Hallite on product history and performance. Test reports like those made available through Hallite’s partnership with the Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE), enhance this approach. It helped VB Seals turn the tide with several fluid power hydraulic cylinder engineers seeking data to support their assumptions about the performance of seals and sealing material for high-temperature and high-pressure cylinder applications.
The value proposition for distribution
Through its partnership with Hallite, VB Seals now has an opportunity to distribute unitized pistons and glands — a unique product with a history of many successful applications.
“Before working with Hallite, we were not calling on many of the customers that we call today because we didn’t have a partner,” said Settle. “I think a lot of our company’s growth in the hydraulic cylinder marketplace can be attributed to the work we’re doing together.”
VB Seals has also presented Hallite with several new business opportunities. Innovative non-sealing applications using Hallite’s premium high-performance materials are included among the kinds of application opportunities generated from collaborative efforts.
Multiple interactions and much time are often needed to build customer relationships and establish production business. It can take anywhere from a week to several years, but once a product’s capabilities are fully demonstrated projects are awarded. VB Seals’ dedication and attention through the entire maturity process are invaluable
A bright future
Hallite’s Premier Distributor Program will help VB Seals continue to be customer-focused and committed to on-time delivery. This helps Hallite overcome challenges associated with volume, inventory lead times, and service. Pricing tools and access to the most up-to-date product performance data will also enable the distributor to be a lot more flexible in responding to customer requirements while providing the highest level of technical support.