Brad Zotti, president of Elevated Industrial Solutions, believes a 60-year legacy isn’t where an industrial supply company ought to hang its hat. Despite the longstanding brand recognition that comes along with decades of solid business experience, there’s more to the story with Elevated – one that warrants a retelling as the company adopts a new name and a more cohesive go-to-market strategy.
In September, the company announced that its business would rebrand, merging several bolt-on acquisitions into a common name and approach to the market. But to understand Elevated Industrial Solutions, one has to go back to the beginning.
In 1955, Lane Supply Company embarked on its business journey in the same way as many other companies in industrial supply do — from the back of a truck. After nearly six decades of serving customers with industrial supplies in the Mountain West, Lane was purchased in 2014. A subsequent influx of cash, combined with an eye for growth, resulted in the acquisitions of Finish Systems (2017, Wisconsin), Compressed Air Technologies (CAT; 2019, Ohio), Palmetto Compressors (2020, South Carolina) and Air Center Inc. (2022, Michigan).
In order to grow further, company leaders determined that there needed to be a shift in the branding of those assets.
“We were operating under five different names in five different states,” explains Zotti. “So the goal was to unite the company and unite the brand and put us in a position where we could really grow the business. We wanted one united front and one brand to cross-sell the various product lines across all locations.”
So Elevated Industrial Solutions was born, with the existing brands coalescing around the objective of a multifaceted wholesale distributor of industrial and construction supplies, compressed air systems, and coating and finishing equipment operating in five states, but serving the entire country.
Changes for the Better
Although Zotti admits that change can be a challenge – especially as a dedicated workforce from each business unit adapts – he’s been pleased with the “common threads” emerging. Zotti says “doing right by the customer and providing great customer service across all locations” has been an overarching theme directing business activity to date, making for an easier transition. Secondly, the rebrand has enabled the company to put some framework around collaboration that had already been taking place to begin with — namely, things like cross-selling and upselling, which are now supported with increased product availability.
Tami Matthews, Elevated’s marketing director, adds that the name is just one component in how the business is viewed within the marketplace; it’s what’s behind it that counts.
“People do business with us because of who we are and how we handle our relationship with them. It’s not because of the name. And that’s really the point that we’ve tried to drive home with everybody,” says Matthews. “They’re doing business (with us) because we take the initiative to understand their business and help them with any issues that they have. We could be named anything. I think the employees are really united around uniting — being one company. ”
The company leans heavily on a slate of core values. While customer focus is a standard, Elevated stresses tenets of integrity that encompass honesty and transparency. It’s a matter of respect for customers that underpins these core values and a strategy of partnering with customers, understanding their needs and offering products, services and advice that align — addressing existing issues and driving efficiencies.
Navigating a Disrupted Landscape
Besides this customer focus, the company also faces the same basic blocking and tackling as other suppliers in the industry who are contending with numerous challenges.
Zotti says that while every company is faced with the same issues – including supply chain challenges and inflation – he believes lead times are the most difficult to address. The company’s strategy has included increasing inventory and engaging with multiple suppliers per category, while also spreading inventory across locations and then “giving ourselves enough time to stock up.” He adds that stocking agreements have helped with inventory management; customers commit to inventory purchases over a 90-day period with reserved items.
The company expects to launch a customer portal within the next few years, supported by its recent invement in ERP. The portal would allow customers to log in and view products they’re interested in or those they’ve purchased in the past, as well as manage repeat buys and service interactions.
All of the efforts – from the rebrand to the tech developments and the creative approach to inventory – is in the name of customer service, an approach that the workforce of Elevated Industrial Solutions wears like a badge.
“The differentiator between us and our competitors is we really know our customers’ business,” says Matthews. “We know who they are, we understand their pain points, and we recommend solutions even beyond products. Our people care deeply about their customers. They want to see them succeed, and I think our customers know that.”
Moving forward, Elevated Industrial Solutions hopes to continue to take its measured approach to customer service to the market, the evidence of which will be the subsequent organic growth the company expects. In addition, there are opportunities for acquisitions, though Zotti stresses that managing growth “where we are” will take priority: “No big surprises,” he says. “We’ll just be opportunistic in terms of acquisitions, but we will continue down both paths.”
Meanwhile, the company looks to continue its strategy of continually re-inventing itself. One way Elevated hopes to show this distinction is through breaking the tradition of the entrenched, stodgy distributor.
“When you think of wholesale industrial supply, it’s a pretty well-defined industry,” says Zotti. “We’re different. We’re really trying to evaluate how we’re doing business, especially through some of these acquisitions, and change the mindset — be excited about coming into work and doing things differently, presenting ourselves in the market differently. It’s why we call ourselves the 60-year-old startup”