Sometimes the air compressor and filter systems Compressed Air and Equipment of La Porte City, Iowa, installs and maintains are quite obvious—when a mechanic fills the tires of your car, for example. At other times, they are working out of sight, quietly maintaining the perfect atmospheric conditions in a recording studio or a surgery room. In those situations, when you don’t notice their product at all, Compressed Air has done their job well.
In fact, often people only notice their air compressor or filter when it needs to be fixed. And when that happens, it usually needs to be fixed fast.
“Places like hospitals and surgery departments, they need a part ‘right now’ because they don’t have a backup,” said Pam Ferch, Compressed Air office manager. “But it’s very rare we won’t have a part in stock.”
The company began as a one-man operation in 1979, when founder Rick Foss sold and repaired compressors from a shed on his family farm. But as new clients came, his old clients were coming back for service and repairs, providing the company solid growth. Today the once part-time business operates in a 20,500 square foot facility, offering air compressors, dryers, filtration systems, and accessories to all of Iowa and southern Minnesota.
Their client list includes hospitals, schools, heavy industrial contractors, and small-time hobbyists. Compressed Air service crews are on hand 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for when a scavenge line blows or a cooler goes out, and the client suddenly remembers they have an air compressor installed.
The Compressed Air team doesn’t mind handling those calls.
“Our guys are good about explaining the problems to the customer so they understand what is going on with their equipment,” Ferch said.
Ferch handles inventory, financials, and the other administrative needs, a role that, just like any position at Compressed Air, requires flexibility, patience, and sometimes, a good sense of humor. Although the company offers big-business level customer service, it has held fast to its small-business culture. It keeps its clients with loyalty and trust, and finds new ones through word-of-mouth, allowing its reputation to handle the marketing.
“Our customers may try other companies, but then they usually call us back again.”
One former customer switched to a competitor that then couldn’t properly service the system they installed.
“The customer called us and said, ‘I don’t know what these people are doing, but it’s been two weeks and they can’t fix the problem. Can you send one of your guys?’”
“Our mechanics will go above and beyond to make sure the problem is fixed,” Ferch continued. “That’s what keeps us in a lot of places. The service department of a business will either kill you or make you successful.”
The first and last resort
That Compressed Air makes emergency repairs is no mark against their products, which will last a lifetime…if you don’t forget to take care of them.
“If we get called in for a repair, it is usually something they could have avoided with preventative maintenance,” Ferch said.
The company offers regular maintenance contracts on its product list, which presently includes a vast range of services and thousands of items, including finished products, accessories, and spare parts, each of which must be on hand at a moment’s notice.
The right small business accounting software is necessary to ensure Compressed Air can support its customers. They use Cougar Mountain Software’s Denali accounting software.
With Denali, Ferch and the office team can instantly identify the exact location and quantity of each specialty bolt and fitting for any brand. They can join several items together in a kit, automatically compiling parts and service into a straightforward invoice.
When a customer needs something, Denali lets us look back to their previous orders and quickly identify a part or product. It speeds up turnaround time on the order. That’s big for us.”
Plus, with Denali, there are no one-off transactions: A first sale becomes the foundation of a continuing customer profile.
“A customer will call and say ‘I ordered a filter but can’t remember the part number and I need another.’ Or, ‘Can you get me some oil for my compressor?’ We can look back on their order and quickly identify what they need. It speeds up turnaround time on the order. That’s big for us.”
The office uses Denali Payroll, Bank Reconciliation, and nearly every one of the numerous integrated accounting modules, which work together to provide Compressed Air with comprehensive, streamlined reports that help them manage their business.
Like the Compressed Air service crews, Cougar Mountain makes a would-be complex task simple and easy.
I just love the fact that it is user-friendly. It doesn’t take long to train someone on the system. The quicker you can train someone the better.”
Like an air compressor, a good accounting software product like Denali is one that simply works, quietly making life easier in the background.