Success lies in ample inventory
Volume 24, No. 2
Keith Eriksen, president of the Rawhide Fire Hose Corp., is often asked "How did you come up with the name "Rawhide?"
The story behind it is "fire departments or townspeople used bucket brigades, which were several men in a line, passing buckets full of water towards the fire," Eriksen said. "The last man threw the water on the fire. These buckets were often made of leather and were typically used to water horses."
Some of the original fire hose was made from leather that was tough, yet flexible and water could be pumped through it. Hence the name 'Rawhide', symbolizing something tough when it has to be and flexible when it needs to be.
Rawhide, based in Orrville, OH, has been supplying quality, custom length single and double jacket woven hose, booster hose, couplings, adapters, nozzles, back pack pumps and dry hydrant systems to fire departments and industry since 1976.
"We maintain nearly a half million dollar inventory that is paid for," Eriksen said. "Therefore, we can maintain price competitiveness and an unparalleled efficiency, turning around orders the same day they are received."
Purchasing hose directly from manufacturers usually requires a lead time of weeks, often months. Rawhide boasts an inventory on hand that includes Action Coupling, D.B. Smith, Goodyear, Kidde Fire Fighting (Angus Fire, Imperial and Flexline), Gemtor, Key Fire Hose, Snap-Tite Hose, Inc., Pacific Echo, Red Head Brass, Sun-Flow Inc., Thermoid and United Fire Safety.
"Our purchasing program removes lead time as a concern for our customers," Eriksen said. "We have the hose in stock - now. We buy in such large quantities that we get the best possible pricing. We preserve competitive pricing and can offer same day shipping at no additional or expedited costs."
Besides maintaining a large inventory of fire hose, industrial hose and couplings in standard threads, Rawhide prides itself on being able to provide hard-to-find thread patterns or configurations, as well.
Adapters, sight glass fittings and aluminum or brass couplings such as Rocker, Pin lug and Camlock are available as new or replacement parts. Accessories include Fire Brooms, Backpack pumps, VesTanks and nozzles, spanner wrenches and axes.
"Most of our support is from hose and equipment distributors or dealers, nationwide," Eriksen said. "A modest web presence combined with a strategic marketing plan has presented opportunities with the military, volunteer fire departments and smaller rural community fire companies."
Like a lot of great American businesses, Rawhide traces its origins back to its founder's garage. W.W. "Budd" Maddock was a sales representative for National Fire Hose. He was inspired by a coupling manufacturer to buy hose and couplings, ultimately offering complete hose assemblies. "The concept took off," Eriksen said. "Rawhide was born."
At Rawhide Fire Hose, standard and custom length hose assemblies are the core business. Although some distributors/dealers of fire fighting equipment have the capacity to couple hose in house, Rawhide maintains the advantage of specializing in a single area. "If given an opportunity, Rawhide will impact a distributors' bottom line." Eriksen continues "By utilizing our inventory, competitive prices and the ability to drop ship, distributors can control costs, increase net margin and offer same day shipping from the warehouse in Orrville, OH."
"Trying to be all things to all customers leaves you being nothing to everyone," Eriksen said." That is precisely the reason we only 'do' hose and do it well."