Airline Equipment Company was founded in 1949 by Joseph Loughran to distribute pneumatic tools and accessories in Philadelphia. At that time the city had a vibrant industrial manufacturing economy. Over the years, as their base of loyal customers grew and new opportunities emerged, the company decided to expand into the hydraulics sector. In 1969, with sales approximating $3 million, the company changed its name to Airline Hydraulics Corporation.
As the company continued to grow, customers demanded solutions to a wider array of machine problems, prompting Airline to further broaden its product offering to include automation products such as sensors, PLC’s, motion control products and many others. To keep up with the demand for hydraulic and pneumatic products and services, branch operations were established in York, PA; Bethlehem, PA; Ocean View, NJ; Edison, NJ; N. Billerica, MA and, most recently in Rochester, NY.
By 1998, revenues grew to over $40M and Airline Hydraulics’ 150 employees actively served over 5,000 customers in the industrial, mobile, marine and utility marketplace. Between 2000 and 2008 there were several asset purchase agreements which added an additional $2M to Airline’s revenues, increasing total business revenues to over $52M.
Today Airline Hydraulics, headquartered in Bensalem, PA, is a 100% Employee-Owned Business (ESOP). The company has over 200+ employees at office locations throughout the Northeast who work hard to make the corporate vision a reality. Airline Hydraulics is a preferred provider of quality technology-driven solutions, products and services.
Although Airline Hydraulics had won government contracts in the past, that area of business was not growing and thriving. In fact, they had lost a few contracts throughout the years. Tom Devlin, the Government Sales Manager, who had undertaken the responsibility of growing their government contracting, reached out to Faye Fitz, the Government Marketing Specialist for the Temple University Small Business Development Center (SBDC) for assistance.
Airline Hydraulics became a SBDC Procurement Technical Assistance Program (PTAP) client in November 2009. Devlin and Fitz met to discuss market strategies that would create success. There was no doubt that Airline was a strong company that just needed the right direction and guidance to move forward.
The first steps were plans to create market visibility. Tom was advised to follow stated guidelines as stipulated by agencies and complete all of the mandatory government registrations and certifications (CCR, SBA Dynamic Business Search, ORCA, etc.). Next, the company was advised to develop effective marketing materials such as a Capability Statement. The objective was to create market visibility by including government codes on marketing materials, thereby enabling Government Agencies to identify and categorize Airline’s products and services (e.g. naics codes, sic codes, etc.).
The next step included the development of the Bid Match profile to help them identify contracts. The PTAP conducted research to help Airline identify government agencies and prime contractors that buy their products and services. Further, PTAP advised Airline to attend seminars, outreach and networking events to further develop their understanding of the government marketplace.
The specialist also noticed that staff members were overwhelmed with their workload. They were not only handling government marketing but they had other responsibilities as well. The specialist advised Devlin to hire a part-time person; someone with background, experience and contacts in the government arena to help manage the tasks. He took that advice.
Devlin described his experience working with PTAP as “amazing.” There were a lot of fundamental and basic things that had to be done. But those things, in addition to the excellent one-on-one consulting, made the difference between struggling and success. Devlin stated, “We went from just barely holding on to $80, 000 in contracts two years ago in 2009 to $404,000 by year 2010. All because of the strategic assistance from the Temple PTAP. And now, in 2011, it’s only the middle of the year and we are already at $340,000 in government contracts. We are ecstatic. We are expecting to double that by the year’s end.” There is no doubt that Airline Hydraulics is well on their way and success is again in their favor.