Hy-Tek Material Handling, Inc.: Providing Solutions That Move Operations Forward

Material handling is a business in which the values of product quality, safety and efficiency must all be equally balanced. Hy-Tek Material Handling, Inc. (Hy-Tek) performs this balancing act expertly because everyone in the company is invested in its success, both philosophically and economically. The company’s motto, which reinforces its dedication to thorough customer satisfaction, is proudly displayed on its trucks and equipment: Employee Owned, Client Driven.

“I own one-third of the company and the employees own the other two-thirds of it,” confirms Sam Grooms, president of Hy-Tek. Since the employees of Hy-Tek are also the owners, they are twice as committed to meeting customers’ material handling needs. Hy-Tek provides far more than products, however. Since 1963 the company has expanded from its Columbus, Ohio, base to become a premier single-source provider of material handling solutions. The company proudly acts as a consulting arm for companies that are looking to take cost out of their business, to increase efficiency, and ultimately increase their bottom line.

The company, which began with one man selling a forklift that he maintained at night, now employs more than 100 and has conducted activities in all but three states, as well as Canada and Mexico. Hy-Tek’s integrated systems division has Ohio offices in Cincinnati, Cleveland and Columbus, as well as branches in Indianapolis, Ind.; Louisville, Ky.; and Philadelphia, Pa. Each office has numerous engineering and design capabilities to create solutions, such as conveyor, warehouse and storage systems, to better meet the material handling needs of the end user.
Hy-Tek’s experience is in delivering and managing mobile, automated and storage/handling solutions that maximize client value and productivity, and this ability to identify and provide the best means to address any and all specific applications has resulted in success for the company.

According to Grooms, the company has been debt-free since 2011. “We dropped off the $1 million-and-change to the bank last December,” remembers Grooms. “Now, that was a good day.” The joy that Grooms feels at the company being debt-free is shared by his 100-plus employees/owners, because they know that the activity they see is indicative of a recovering industry. When Hy-Tek clients are making investments in new, renovated or retrofit equipment, it is a good sign for the economy as a whole.

“Our business is a great barometer,” says Grooms. “We touch every business that’s out there, everything from retail to the company that makes the ketchup bottles.”

Excellence in Design and Distribution

Hy-Tek’s goal is to provide optimal material handling solutions for clients, and this means providing far more than just new equipment when a unit becomes heavily used or outdated. Hy-Tek excels at surveying a client’s entire fleet of equipment, providing a centralized view of what pieces should be repaired or retired, and how to use all assets more resourcefully. Hy-Tek can recognize when the curve of expense exceeds the curve of purchasing, and at that point can suggest the best unit to address the client’s current focus and needs, rather than just provide another unit with the same specs. This service is available to companies of any size, whether they are one location or maintain dozens of facilities across several states.

“You won’t see the names of products we represent on our vans, because we’re not just about selling products,” explains Grooms. “We come to a company’s locations and identify at each point what they need, what size and type equipment is most useful for them to retain, and we provide on an ongoing basis the maintenance and cost numbers as that fleet grows or consolidates.”

To perform these services Hy-Tek is always fostering continued education and exploring the most innovative solutions that can be incorporated into comprehensive systems. “In the material handling business we do everything inside a distribution center or manufacturing facility,” says Grooms. “We don’t manufacture any of the products, but we distribute everything.”

The company has a 55,000-square foot showroom, which doubles as a parts and service facility. It’s adjacent to the Rickenbacker Airport complex in Columbus, and houses a majority of the company’s mobile equipment, which includes aerial lifts, pallet jacks, forklifts, sweeper-scrubbers and burden carriers. And the company utilizes some of the most high-profile names in mobile equipment manufacturing.

Yale Materials Handling (Yale), JLG, Seegrid Corporation (Seegrid), Landoll Corporation (Landoll) and Taylor-Dunn are all companies with whom Hy-Tek has continued to cultivate mutually beneficial relationships over the years. Hy-Tek has a wide range of equipment supplied by these companies, and can choose from a selection of over 100 different models of forklifts, industrial truck equipment and dock doors.

Hy-Tek has formed lasting relationships with leading manufacturers in all of its industry sectors, including static and dynamic storage products – an area in which Hy-Tek provides products from Creative Storage Solutions, Ridg-U-Rak, Republic Storage, Unarco and Borroughs – and conveyor systems, where Hy-Tek sources from manufacturers such as Hytrol and Automotion.

The company’s staff is heavily invested in all aspects of quality material handling, as well as facility optimization. This includes the often-overlooked aspect of lighting solutions.

Moving Toward Greener Solutions

Many manufacturers and distributors have taken steps toward better lighting solutions through greener standards and Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification. A primary way Hy-Tek reduces energy consumption is by having its lighting professionals perform a lighting audit on the facility. The staff also walks consumers through various commercial and warehouse lighting rebate programs. From there, Hy-Tek creates a layout that saves both energy and money in multiple ways. Hy-Tek’s average lighting fixture creates 50-percent more light with 50-percent lower energy costs.

Hy-Tek is committed to expanding its products and services to best serve its customers, and much of this growth has supported green initiatives as they have become more industry standard. “We’re looking to grow into other markets, and we’re looking for other core competencies that compliment our work and what we do right now,” expresses Grooms. Some of Hy-Tek’s product line that has the added benefit of including energy-efficient, environmentally conscious aspects include electric lift trucks, flex fuel vehicles and Yale’s eco-friendly ICE trucks. The ICE trucks are distinct in that they require less oil changes, which reduces maintenance costs as well as the use of fossil fuels.

Reducing maintenance costs helps both Hy-Tek and its customer base in the long run, and the company is continually investing in additional ways it can contribute to the long-term success of its clients and shareholders. Engineers and office staff, parts specialists, service technicians, project managers and sales representatives all work to be leaders in the sector, reinforcing skills and networking opportunities through associations such as the Material Handling Equipment Distributors Association (MHEDA). With annual revenue of $65 million, the company has shown its goal of nurturing the brightest minds in the industry is successful.

Beyond exhibiting business acumen, Hy-Tek also sets out to be a sterling example as a philanthropic leader, staying involved with or donating to over 35 local and national charities. And the company has established a special way to pay tribute to those who uphold Hy-Tek’s standards as a leader in both industry and community.

“Our founder, William K. Slife, passed from colon cancer [in January 1989],” states Grooms. “So, we’ve begun the William K. Slife Foundation Wall. Anyone with over 20 years of service to the company gets a brick with their name engraved in it, and it becomes part of a growing wall in our facility.” Grooms continues to voice his respect and support for the staff as he explains why the company chose bricks and a wall as a way to commemorate both the founder and the company’s legacy: “They are the foundation we built the company on.”

With its 50-year anniversary coming up, Hy-Tek has a lot to reflect proudly on and further build upon as it further broadens its range. The company’s reputation for excellent service stands as solid as the wall representing its staff’s collective experience (a total of 380 years proficiency in the current workforce, and just over 600 years including those who have retired), and Hy-Tek is continuing to add key managers that reinforce the company’s best practices. As former college football coach Woody Hayes once said, “You win with people.” Over 25 percent of the current workforce has 20 or more years of service, and these employee/owners’ abilities in providing clients with task-specific solutions ensure Hy-Tek Material Handling, Inc. will continue to optimize and manage equipment and procedures that benefit all those involved.