House calls thousands of miles away
It’s not easy doing on-site work in all reaches of a state as big as Alaska.
But Alaska Hydraulics owners Michelle Johnson and Tom Loran said that is what sets them apart from the competition.
“We have quite a diverse customer base including the rocket launch facility in Kodiak and the military installations,” said Johnson. “We do in-field service calls. No one else really does that. You can call us at 2 a.m. and we’re there, whether it’s to replace a hose, fix a winch, or tell you that your pump is on backwards. We look at a problem and find a solution.”
Finding solutions to problems has helped the business grow from a 1976 start-up to a thriving statewide supplier with locations in both Kodiak and Anchorage. Alaska Hydraulics is the state’s largest hydraulic sales and service provider. The business is a direct-line distributor for the country’s largest hydraulic companies and in many cases is the only authorized distributor in the state.
Customers range from North Slope oil companies, to mining facilities throughout the state, to fishing fleets from Southeastern Alaska to the Bering Sea. Alaska Hydraulics provides hydraulic parts and services to hundreds of Alaska companies in all reaches of Alaska.
Loran started working for the company in 1986, shortly thereafter becoming manager of the Kodiak location. A few years later he moved to Anchorage and became a part owner of the company.
Johnson’s involvement is a little different. When Loran moved to the Anchorage store, Johnson was hired as a part-time, temporary bookkeeper. In a few years, she was managing the Kodiak store. In 1998, Johnson and Loran bought the company.
It was the construction of a new Kodiak building that sparked Johnson and Loran’s involvement with First National Bank Alaska.
“In 1997, the bank granted a construction loan for them,” said Mark Anderson, Kodiak Branch Manager.
Now the business does its checking, real estate financing and credit card processing with First National. The business also recently received a line of credit.
“The people at First National are Alaskans, too,” said Johnson. “They understand the problems of freight, mail, etc. When we walk in the doors they know our names.”
Johnson said one service that is especially helpful to her is BankNow! Online for Business. Online banking has helped Johnson and Loran stay on top of their banking needs no matter where business has taken them.
“With both Tom and I traveling so much it saves our skins,” Johnson said.
She said being able to keep track of balances, deposits and other banking activities while on business throughout the state has been a big benefit.
Loran said knowing and trusting Anderson and other First National employees has helped him concentrate on the business instead of concentrating on banking.
“I work really hard to make things easy for the customer,” said Anderson. “I know that people don’t get into business so they can spend their time worrying about their bank. It is my job to make those things run smoothly so they can concentrate on running their business.
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