TS: OK, tell me why I should not think of cable ties as anything other than a low cost commodity product?
Scott Hinckley: Cable ties, also known as zip ties or tie wraps, have an unlimited number of applications and come in various lengths, strengths, materials and colors. One of the most innovative products ever created is the simple, but high quality and practical, cable tie. Used each day for tying, bundling, hanging, securing, identifying, color coding, harnessing, or the million other uses, we offer one of the largest selections available of almost every type of cable tie.
Some cable tie applications require a simple low cost cable tie solution while others may require a more specific “specialty material” tie that is made to hold up in harsh environments or for special applications. Materials can range from the standard Nylon 6/6 to 316 Stainless Steel. In either case,cable ties are a necessity of our everyday life and are used by individuals, businesses, schools, colleges and universities, industry, retail and by government agencies. Our cable ties are used by such companies as Tesla, Boeing, Apple, ExxonMobil, Amazon, General Electric, General Motors, Ford, Nestle and Coca Cola. They are also used by government agencies in the U.S. such as NASA, The Forestry Service and the FBI.
TS: How did you get yourself involved in the cable tie industry?
Scott Hinckley : After working for a leading appliance company for 16 years and growing their business from $10 million to $100 million, I made it a goal of mine to take all of the skills I learned in that role to either start my own business or buy an existing business. After looking at 30-40 businesses a day for 18 months, I made an offer on a “cable management” company in Hilliard, Ohio. What began as that small, regional business in a tiny office and warehouse space in Columbus, Ohio has evolved into a 9 acre campus in Brunswick, Ohio. The rest is history.
TS: What makes Cable Ties Unlimited different than other companies supplying cable ties?
Scott Hinckley : We consider ourselves very unique in that we carry more cable ties and associated products that anyone in the industry. That One-Stop-Shop approach enables the industry to make one call for pricing and availability for virtually any cable tie known to man. If we don’t stock it, we can get it. Our customers have grown to rely on us for all of their sourcing needs and consider us the cable tie experts when it comes to the solutions they require. Our extensive inventory allows us to ship 98.5% of our orders the same day we receive them! Our dedicated operations and warehouse teams ensure we have the proper inventory levels to meet our customer’s ever demanding needs when it comes to our extensive inventory levels and product mix. We also stock many of the well know brands of cable ties and related products that customers require, such as Thomas & Betts, Panduit, HellermannTyton, 3M,TE Connectivity and Velcro Brand. We also have a department focused on custom packaging, private and special labeling, cable tie imprinting and kitting. This gives our distribution customers an extra level of customization that we can do for them so they have a turn-key program to offer their customers without having to take on those projects internally. When it comes to sourcing those hard to find products, no one has the extensive sourcing abilities like Cable Ties Unlimited. We work with both domestic and overseas suppliers that produce first rate products with the highest quality standards in the industry.
TS: What trends in business do you consider as you are making business decisions?
Scott Hinckley : We are very customer focused. We listen to our customers needs and tailor our business to those needs. Many of our new product introductions come from the needs of our customers. They rely on us for solutions and we pride ourselves in solving their issues. We also follow a lot of the trends in the up and coming industries, such as solar, electric vehicles, charging stations, growers and security. As our distribution partners come to us with new projects for their customers, we work together to find or create the appropriate solutions making it a win-win for all.
TS: Cable ties are part of the fastener industry but also kind of part of the electrical supply industry. What other industries am I missing? Where are cable ties used that the average fastener distributor doesn’t think about or know about?
Scott Hinckley : Cable ties are not only used for bundling cables, they are also used in such industries as electrical, HVAC, construction, manufacturing, automobile, marine, packaging, appliance, electronics, and many more.The fastenerdistributors need to make sure their customers know they can source cable ties from them. Many end-users don’t see cable ties as being a “fastener” like nuts and bolts, they see it as a supply item. We talk to many large fastener distributors who tell us their customers don’t buy cable ties, but when we ask who some of their customers are, we find that they’re actually large consumers of cable ties, they’re just not getting the business.
TS: How do you advertise? Any particular unique ways you promote your company? (i’m thinking Strongsville football games here!!)
Scott Hinckley : We do a lot of non-traditional marketing to build brand awareness, including optimizing our website and extensive email marketing. We are also suppliers to a buying group which gives us an opportunity to promote our products and services to their large group of members. We also do local advertising and participate in many fastener related association activities and advertising opportunities. One of our successful local marketing efforts is the sponsorship of our local high school football program. For the last 5 years, at their Friday night games, whenever the home team gets a first down, the announcer says, “And that’s another Cable Ties Unlimited First Down!” giving us great name recognition in the local communities.
TS: You have a strong, veteran inside sales staff. Tell me a bit about your team.
Scott Hinckley : We have 8 inside and outside sales people. Of those, 7 have extensive sales experience, with 1 being a newly hired trainee. Our sales staff has a combined 55 years of cable tie sales experience, with most of them being true cable tie experts. They spend their time taking care of our large customer base and prospecting for new business. We receive a large number of quote requests each day and it’s our goal to respond to each of them within 30 minutes of receipt. Our customers really appreciate this quick response time and has been a key factor in our overall high rating in customer satisfaction. One of the keys to our success is the friendly voices and personalities of our salespeople. Years ago, a trusted advisor of ours, Hall of Famer, Marty Nolan, told us we needed a friendly voice and face answering our phones. We went out and hired Frank Hocevar, who fit that bill and has been our number one contributor for over 6 years. Frank has extensive knowledge of cable ties and is an expert in helping our customers find the right solutions. Our other salespeople, Bob Allison, Bob Roach, Neil Keim, Jim Hocevar, Rich Michelson, Burke Bruening, and Honorio Torrez round out the team. Each has their areas of expertise and have been extremely valuable to our growth over the years. Our customer service staff is also second to none when it comes to their professionalism in customer satisfaction and product support.
TS: Where do you see your business in the upcoming years.
Scott Hinckley: Growth is something we know well at Cable Ties Unlimited. Our top 3 goals for the business in 2020 are 1. Growth 2. Growth 3. Growth.
In 2019, we were recognized for the fourth year in a row as one of the fastest growing businesses in America. The Inc. 500/5000 is an annual list produced by Inc. Magazine that catalogues the fastest growing privately held companies in the U.S. Only 11% of companies ever named to that list have been recognized 4 years in a row, quite an accomplishment! We were also awarded the additional honor of being one of Inc.’s picks for Top Cleveland Companies, ranked #14. Our team at CTU is so passionate about the work they do, because they enjoy seeing the company grow and being a part of it. Watching them develop new processes that enhance our order fulfillment time, quality of work and overall customer service, makes me honored to be working with such a dedicated team of professionals that look out for the business, almost more than I do, which is what makes us so successful!
We are focused on growing the business through expanding into new products, channels and markets. We doubled the size of our warehouse in 2019 to handle the growth we’ve experienced and at the rate we’re going, we are going to have to expand it again! We have also determined that we can grow the business faster through an acquisition versus growing it organically. We are working with an M&A firm to help us find the right opportunity in 2020. While we have received many inquiries from potential buyers for the business, it’s always been our goal to keep it in the family. My wife and I have 6 kids and all of them have been involved in the business at one point or another. While our oldest son, Kyle, works for us full-time, the others have worked after school and summers while in middle school and high school and others have worked remotely while attending college.
As far as products go, we currently sell nylon cable ties, stainless steel cable ties, specialty ties, special material cable ties, cable mounts and clamps, cable tie tools, wire connectors and terminals, electrical tape, spiral wraps and split looms. We are committed to serving our customers so that list will grow as our customers needs dictate. In order to meet customer demand, we have recently added a line of security ties and seals that includes customers imprinting and sequential numbering. At Cable Ties Unlimited, the product offerings are UNLIMITED!
Note from TS:
I have a regular column in Fastener Technology International (FTI) magazine, called 10 Minutes with the Travelling Salesman, which can be read online at www.fastenertech.com. Subscriptions to FTI, print and digital editions, are free-of-charge for fastener manufacturers, distributors and users as well as suppliers to the industry.”