There is a method to the layout of All Valley Hose & Industrial Supply in Van Nuys. The small showroom inside the front entrance is brightly lit and welcoming, display racks showing off examples of the hydraulic hoses and fittings the distributor offers. In back can be found more inventory and the counter at which customer transactions are handled by Perry and Randy Voogt, the two brothers who run the business, or Randy’s son, Brian. Along one wall are more racks containing boxes filled with brass fittings – the idea being that a customer can more easily find what they are looking for than in the miles of aisles of a big box home improvement store. It says something about the Voogt brothers and that they take seriously the service provided to their customers. They genuinely care and what to get to know who makes purchases at their store and getting them on their way,. “Between Randy, Brian and I we’ll get someone to work out the bill while the other two are working on the hose,” Perry Voogt said. After more than two decades each working for other people, the Voogt brothers took a chance on their own business in 2006. It was at the suggestion of Randy, who had been working as the manager of the body shop of a large Valley auto dealer. Perry had been general manager for an industrial distributor with offices in California, Georgia and Washington State. All Valley was started from scratch, the inventory of hoses and assemblies built up from the contacts Perry had made. His specialty is the knowledge of the supplies themselves, especially the brass fittings. Randy brings the organizational skills to All Valley, leaving the sales calls to his brother. (“He has the better gift of gab than I do,” Randy quipped.) The in-house record keeping and inventory control fall under Randy’s domain, assisted by a computer program written by his son that gives guidance on the ordering and amounts of parts. Their skills are complementary. When Perry gets too focused on the big picture, Randy is there to give some day-to-day perspective. Perry, on the other hand, gets Randy to look further out. “We’re happy in the roles we have,” Perry Voogt said. “Nobody overshadows the other,” Randy Voogt added. Fast start When the Voogts started All Valley were the days of easy credit, so easy that debt piled up fairly quickly. When credit dried up in 2007 that source of money was no longer available at a time when it was needed. The business got off to a faster start than the brothers expected and more money was needed to sustain the growth. They turned to the Small Business Development Center at College of the Canyons for a loan but were turned down. Working with their counselor Ben Tenn, the All Valley business plan was tightened up to present to banks. Tenn’s advice resulted in a cutback in inventory and extensions on payments to vendors to keep the company ahead of cash flow problems. An infusion of private capital was used to convert short-term debt into long-term debt with a lower interest rate. The Voogts story is a familiar story to Tenn and the other SBDC counselors: business owners with corporate backgrounds who wanted to become their own boss. Having built the business up to more than $1 million in revenues, All Valley is doing better than some of its competitors, putting it in a position for potential acquisitions or a merger, Tenn said. The brothers also made great use of the skills of family members to move the business forward. Randy’s son Brian helped with the advanced IT systems and processes, and Perry’s wife helped out with the business plan. “They have the internal capabilities and skills to really prepare them for dramatic growth,” Tenn said. Special requests That growth is possible when there are customers like Tom Rose, the chief operating office of Glide Rite Corp. in Van Nuys, an equipment repair and maintenance firm. When Rose has special hose requests, the All Valley staff can track it down. He often feels that he is outsourcing part of the business, Rose said. The attention and personal customer service Rose receives is unique to any business. “Every time I go in there they treat you like it is all about you,” Rose said. Pierre Laudenberg, the service manager for Southern California Material Handling in Northridge, never failed to find what he needed in stock. If there was research needed on a particular part, the brothers were always willing to take that step, he added. “They’re very knowledgeable,” Laudenberg said. “They known things I didn’t know.” Local customers like Rose are served by the All Valley retail location but more than half the sales come as a wholesaler to other distributors. Markets served include construction and maintenance. All Valley supplies hoses for vehicle fleets, power washers, and for special effects used in the ABC game show series “Wipeout” during filming at Placerita Canyon. There are two business models that can be followed in the industry, Perry Voogt explained. Year Founded: 2006 Revenues in 2009: $1,074,000 Revenues in 2008: $1,049,000 Employees in 2008: 2 Employees in 2010: 3 One is for a supplier to provide a business with a crimping machine for making customer hoses at a low cost and the necessary parts and fittings at a higher cost. The other is the one the Voogts follow: have all the equipment and inventory themselves so that other businesses do not have to store it. They then can charge more per hose. As All Valley serves primarily the business-to-business market, the Voogts want to expand more into consumer sales as that is where the best profit margins are. To achieve that goal, the company has been doing more in terms of marketing and advertising to get its name out into the public.