3 Ways to Fuel Creativity in Your Team

March Blog Main

Creativity helps us generate ideas, explore possibilities, and solve multifaceted problems. Employing an innovative environment within the workspace can exponentially grow your business.

Without new ideas and an innovative sense of direction, a company can struggle with keeping ahead of the competition in today’s market. As a leader, it’s your job to inspire your team’s creativity.

Here are 3 ways you can fuel creativity in your team:

Be Collaborative and Independent

As a leader, you can help your team reach their full potential. By equipping your team with the right resources and creative environment, you can improve the success of your company. While each team member brings a certain asset to the organization, it is equally important for team members to communicate with each other and work towards a common company goal. Leaders should use their teams’ strengths while allowing them to self-manage.

Take Risks and Be Grateful
Nurture a safe environment that allows your employees to take risks and explore innovation. Not every idea or new product will be great, but as a leader, make sure the lines of communication are open.Make your team feel comfortable with recommending ideas without fear of criticism. Whether the risk is successful or not, always show your gratitude. By showing your gratitude and recognizing what your team is good at, your team will feel appreciated and willing to continue to work toward your company’s goals.

Never Stop Learning
Learn from your mistakes. There will be many challenges you will face as a company. How you approach these challenges is a major reason for the company’s success. Set aside time for creative brainstorming, hold regular team meetings, and ask questions. Track your team’s successes and failures. Whether you succeed or fail, there is always a lesson to learn.

Looking for a creative spark? Discover new ways to generate new ideas, think differently, and break thought patterns with Mind Tools.

Trailer Industry Trends to Watch in 2016

blog trailer trends

The trailer industry is heading for a big year in 2016, with increases in highway project funding and lower fuel costs signaling industry growth. Here is a breakdown of some of the factors influencing the trailer industry in the coming year.

The FAST Act

In December of 2015, President Obama signed the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act into law. The law provides $302B in funding through 2020, mostly for highway and roads projects.

This will cause a trickle-down effect to equipment manufacturers, and the Associated Equipment Distributors estimates 6.4 cents in equipment industry growth for every dollar spent on infrastructure. It will also create new business opportunities with the increase in demand for trailers for construction projects.

Low Fuel Costs

The cost of gasoline has been dropping steadily in the last 4 years, reducing the overall costs for the transportation industry. Trailer manufacturers and their supply chains are benefiting from the reduced costs that give the industry more capital to work with.

Trailer Demand High

Due in part to these factors and increased spending, the market value for trailer manufacturers is at an all-time high. But with such a significant increase in demand, the productivity gains may not be able to keep pace with the higher competition from manufacturers. This will likely lead to some market consolidation as manufacturers merge with or acquire competitors.

The trailer industry works with strict safety standards, and manufacturers rely on third-party support like Austin Hardware for specialty trailer parts like hinges and latches. Smaller suppliers of these parts will need to prepare their inventory for increased demand, and the larger suppliers will have the opportunity for mergers or acquisitions as the industry adjusts to this increase in demand.

Overall, 2016 will be a dynamic year for the trailer industry and third-party distributors like Austin Hardware. If you’re in the trailer manufacturing industry, having a partner like Austin will keep your inventory stocked and ready to meet the growing demand and stay competitive in the market. Contact us today to see how we can help you.

Jon Vining Wins First Austin Hardware Charity Football Pool

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Austin Hardware and Supply, Inc., along with Trim-Lok, will combine to make a donation of $7,500 to the Wounded Warrior Project in the name of Jon Vining who was the winner of the company’s first Charity Football Pool.

charity-football-image-rev-9-2Vining, of Minnesota, earned the victory by outlasting 59 other players through 11 weeks of play in the eliminator style football pool.

The pool was promoted to Austin’s customers and suppliers, and via social media to the general public. It was open at no cost or purchase obligation to anyone who registered. Vining chose the Wounded Warrior Project for his donation among a group of 7 charities selected in advance of the pool.

ABOUT AUSTIN HARDWARE & SUPPLY, INC.
Austin Hardware & Supply is a wholesale distributor of specialty industrial and vehicular hardware with ten locations throughout the U.S. Since 1960, Austin Hardware has been providing innovative hardware solutions with top-quality parts, extensive inventory, fast and accurate shipping, and competitive prices — all supported by experienced, professional customer service dedicated to each customer’s success.

For more information, contact:
Rob Dell’Elmo, Media Manager
Austin Hardware & Supply, Inc.
rdellelmo@austinhardware.com
610.898.3403

Download PDF of Press Release

Growth Trends in the Bus and Rail Industry

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More Commuters

As urban populations begin to grow, so does the number of bus and rail commuters. Transportation providers are considering various ways of increasing passenger capacity, such as double-decker buses and/or condensing less occupied routes. Additionally, advances in technology on rail systems may be necessary, which can increase the frequency of trains per hour on a line, increasing traffic volume.

Going Green

Not only does public transportation reduce fuel costs and traffic congestion, it’s beneficial for the environment.  According to American Public Transportation Association mass transportation in the United States reduces the nation’s carbon emissions by 37 million metric tons annually. Decreasing these emissions means reducing the threat of pollution, climate change and global warming.

Increase in Employment Fuels Economic Improvement

As transportation methods become more efficient, employment opportunities are expected to increase within these industries. In 2015, the nation’s major freight railroads planned to spend an estimated $29 billion to build, maintain and grow the rail network. An expanded rail system means more jobs. In addition, freight railroads estimate they will hire 15,000 people this year. For the bus industry, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, it is estimated that 274,140 have been employed this year.

Increased employment rate in the Bus and Rail Industries benefits the overall economy. This increase in mobility to and from regions also creates economic prospects, permits trade, and simplifies access to markets and services. Thus, these industries generate commercial activity by directly connecting employers to their work and retailers to their customers.

Helping You Grow

At Austin Hardware, we value our partnership with the bus and rail industry and seek to provide the hardware our customers need to grow. Dedication to quality is one reason why Austin is the leading source for industrial hardware, including the rail and bus industries. Austin offers an extensive in-stock hardware selection to help you deliver on time and on budget. To learn more about our products, check out our inventory and order online.

Take Charge of Your Commercial Freight Costs: Understanding Accessorial Charges

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The majority of companies doing business in today’s market incur shipping charges for products they purchase and products they sell. Freight companies have “hidden fees;” fees that are added after the freight is quoted and passed on to the shipper at the time of invoice. These fees are known as accessorial charges.

These charges range in cost based on the carrier. Companies have the ability to avoid some fees but need to be aware of their available options before selecting a carrier.

What is an Accessorial Charge?

An accessorial charge is a fee that is assessed for anything outside of the normal procedures of shipping freight. According to The Freight Rate Co., the normal procedure of shipping freight involves the truck driver backing up to a loading dock, the shipper (consignor) loading the cargo, the driver transporting the cargo to the receiver’s (consignee) loading dock to be unloaded by the consignee.

A few of the common accessorial charges include:

  • Delivery notification
  • Detention – with or without power
  • Fuel surcharge
  • Hazardous materials charge
  • Inside delivery
  • Liftgate service
  • Re-delivery charge
  • Residential adjustments
  • Sorting and segregating
  • Stop-off charges
  • Weight adjustments

5 Tips for Managing Accessorial Charges

Accessorial charges are typically assessed post-shipment. This makes it very difficult for companies to stay within their logistics and supply chain budgets.

  1. Companies must be aware of what they are being charged. Ask for a break-down of the charges and review each invoice. If your company is unaware of what charges you are paying, you are unable to correct the problem to prevent it in the future. For example, it might seem convenient to have the carrier call and make an appointment for delivery but some carriers charge $50 to do so. Shippers may be unaware that their carriers are charging that fee until they are able to analyze the break-down of charges.
  2. Accurately measure and weigh shipments. Take the time to ensure the shipment weight and measurements are precise. If the weight and measurements are incorrect, the carrier will re-weigh the shipment, which will result in a fee. The scales at ISO 9000 companies must be certified; therefore, having the certification to prove your scales are accurate can assist a company in fighting re-weigh fees on packages they ship. Non-ISO 9000 companies can also have their scales certified. Some freight companies have scales built into their forklifts and compare the weight against the bill of lading. If you dispute the re-weigh fee, you will need to have supporting documentation to reverse the fee.
  3. Know your freight classes. The National Motor Freight Classifications (NMFC) periodically changes these classes so it is imperative the correct class is entered on the bill of lading. If the class is incorrect, the carrier will re-class your shipment, which will result in a fee.
  4. Make the right selection. Be knowledgeable about the carriers you are using and where they want freight. For example, don’t use long-haul carriers in short-haul lanes and vice versa. The “lowest cost provider” may not actually be the lowest cost in certain situations. Also, optimize your shipment volume by consolidating smaller shipments, then deconsolidate at a location near its final destination.
  5. Hire a third-party logistics provider (3PL). 3PL’s can act as a company’s traffic manager. They have the ability to negotiate contracts for a company with the knowledge and experience of knowing the strengths and weaknesses of each carrier. Utilizing a 3PL also gives companies the ability to make one payment to the 3PL, who will pay the various vendors. They will also analyze your invoices and can provide an itemized list of the accessorials charged by each carrier. If an accessorial was invoiced incorrectly, the 3PL can interface with the carrier on a company’s behalf. They can also help negotiate freight claims on your company’s behalf.

Become a “Preferred Shipper”

“Shippers are looking for ways to improve their transportation operations, and a significant way to do so is by aligning efforts with their carrier partners to improve efficiency and overall benefits to all parties,” said Ben Cubitt, senior vice president, consulting & engineering for Transplace. Transplace, a 3PL and technology company, conducted a survey of 75 transportation carriers to collect best practices for companies to achieve “preferred shipper” status with carriers.

The results of the study indicate the following:

  • Economics is the most important factor. Elements such as competitive rates, fuel surcharges, payment terms, length of time until payment, volume potential and positive credit ratings were all rated as being very important to carriers.
  • Focus on driver productivity. One of the most critical factors to a carrier is making the driver as productive as possible. Factors such as dwell time, in-transit delays, ability to use drop trailer, shipper load count and type of freight all affect the output of drivers.
  • Ensure facilities are driver-friendly. Having driver-friendly facilities helps increase the productivity of the drivers. Onsite parking, available restroom and break room, updates on loading and unloading and guard shacks all factor into the driver’s experience at a shipper’s facility.
  • Relationship is key. The scope of the relationship and level of the partnership affects the carrier’s preference status of a shipper. The ability to understand a carrier’s costs with relationship to equipment and recruiting drivers, willingness to discuss issues and treating drivers with respect and as a valuable asset can have an impact on how the shipper is viewed by the carrier.

Utilizing the principles outlined in this white paper, companies can effectively manage their accessorial costs and in turn, spend less money on their shipping expenses.

About Austin Hardware & Supply, Inc.

Austin Hardware & Supply is a wholesale distributor of specialty industrial and vehicular hardware with ten locations throughout the U.S. Since 1960, Austin Hardware has been providing innovative hardware solutions with top-quality parts, extensive inventory, fast and accurate shipping, and competitive prices — all supported by experienced, professional customer service dedicated to each customer’s success.

New Product Announcement

Southco
New Spring Loaded Concealed Pull Offers Simple, Push Button Access

Southco’s 67 Concealed Pull is now available in a spring-loaded version that offers the same flush mount design as the standard 67 series, but features all-metal construction, providing higher strength and improved industrial design. When triggered via simple, push-button operation, the spring-loaded 67 automatically releases the handle for easy access, providing a convenient grip for opening doors or panels.

  • Learn more about Southco’s 67 Concealed PullSpring loaded, push-button trigger allows for quick access to the handle
  • Durable, all metal design provides higher strength and durability
  • Flush, surface mount design complements industrial design
  • Available with black or silver finish, as well as custom color options

Contact Austin Hardware & Supply for more information or click here for product specifications from Southco.

 

New Product Announcement

Southco
Learn more about Southco’s C2 Lever Latch

Sealed Lever Latch Meets Door Ingress Protection Ratings

Southco’s new sealed C2 Lever Latch provides the same consistent compression and vibration resistance as the standard C2 Series, but features a sealed design that meets NEMA 4 and IP65 standards for water and dust protection, making it suitable for use indoors and out. The sealed C2 Lever Latch meets ingress protection requirements without having to adjust or change existing panel or door designs, and is an ideal solution for new installations as well as retrofits.

  • Sealed design protects against water and dust
  • Lever action enables easy, quick operation
  • Flush, low profile design
  • Locking options deliver increased security

Contact Austin Hardware & Supply for more information or click here for product specifications from Southco.

Austin Hardware Named Exclusive US Distributor for Enginia S.r.l.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Austin blog- enginiaLEE’S SUMMIT, MO. (June 2015) Austin Hardware & Supply, Inc. has been named the exclusive United States distributor for Enginia, an Italy-based designer and manufacturer of access hardware used in the construction of air handling units. The addition of a world-class manufacturer like Enginia provides Austin with a new line of products dedicated to HVAC manufacturers.

Enginia’s wide variety of plastic components and assembled products for air handling units include fewer components than similar products, resulting in simpler installation, reduced installation time, and easy adjustability. They practice co-engineering with their customers to allow them to maintain constant technical improvement in standard and custom products. Engina has been ISO 9001 certified since 2002.

Tary Krahenbuhl, Vice President of Business Development at Austin Hardware, described the partnership with Enginia:

“Austin Hardware is very excited about our new partnership with Enginia. They have played an important role in the European HVAC market for a number of years designing and manufacturing components widely used in the construction of air handling units. Italy-based Enginia also understands the needs of the HVAC products used in America, and they have designed a latching system that is suited to meet the rigorous demands of the HVAC enclosures built in the USA. HVAC manufacturers will gain significant advantages with the easy installation and versatility of components designed for this new latching system. Customers and operators will truly appreciate the strong ergonomic design along with the convenience of the simple and multiple level adjustments that they can make to secure access panels on their HVAC units.”

ABOUT AUSTIN HARDWARE & SUPPLY, INC.
Austin Hardware & Supply is a wholesale distributor of specialty industrial and vehicular hardware with ten locations throughout the U.S. Since 1960, Austin Hardware has been providing innovative hardware solutions with top-quality parts, extensive inventory, fast and accurate shipping, and competitive prices — all supported by experienced, professional customer service dedicated to each customer’s success.

For more information, contact:

Rob Dell’Elmo, Media Manager
Austin Hardware & Supply, Inc.
rdellelmo@austinhardware.com
610.898.3403

Download PDF of Press Release