Ryan Bartlett, President and founder of equipment supplier United Material Handling, Inc., began the company in 2011 at the age of twenty with only a thousand dollars in his pocket. The genesis of this Southern California-based company may have been humble, but it was driven to succeed.
The business began by buying and selling used material handling products, but as it grew, United Material Handling, Inc. explored options for manufacturing pallet racking, also known as selective racking. It looked at producing internationally and in the United States before deciding on the former and importing into the U.S. in 2015.
A key tenet of the business is, “looking at everybody’s warehouse as if it’s our own,” says Bartlett. By this, he means that all designs and detailing work are done to enhance efficiency; from customer service to project and account management to sales, no detail is overlooked.
United Material Handling, Inc. imports its products and sports a considerable inventory so it can fulfill the needs of the customer more effectively. Bartlett explains that typical competitors within the material handling industry have anywhere from eight-week to sixteen-week lead times on customers’ projects, but most projects in the standard scope of the company can be delivered within two to three weeks, a considerable improvement on the competition. United Material Handling, Inc. mainly serves the Southwestern United States but offers nationwide availability.
Third-party logistics companies (3PL) are the sector of the market that the company deals with most, above sectors like liquor distributors, aviation, and food and beverage. “Nobody likes to wait,” when it comes to project delivery, says Bartlett, and the company has helped its customers serve their own customers, in turn, by delivering projects faster than they expect them to get done and in a way that is budget-friendly to boot.
Bartlett believes that holding people accountable for their work is one way to lead a business, but when it comes to United Material Handling, Inc., employees often push themselves to be the best that they can be as they feel that they are part of a team and do not want to let that team down by not giving it their all. The attitude in the company that this is doing right by both the company and the customer, and the output of the business and the feedback from a satisfied clientele communicates this.
Building a company “takes time and patience and tests everything you have within you,” he admits. “I couldn’t have built this company without my team… I enjoy working with them, and I think they’re a huge part of the success here at United Material Handling, Inc.”
The company has grown by repeat business from previous clients or by referrals from those businesses and has done “very little marketing,” which he believes indicates the quality of output it has provided to its diverse clientele.
The company’s track record in just under ten years it has been in business has seen it involved in a great number of interesting projects. One such job was a project for Young’s Market Company’s two large facilities in the Pacific Northwest that needed to be operational in ninety days. In this instance, United Material Handling, Inc. supplied, delivered, and installed within an extremely aggressive timeframe, which allowed Young’s to open the facilities in time. Bartlett remembers the project as one that was particularly complex.
Another project involved a start-up public storage company named Clutter, which has served United Material Handling, Inc. throughout the country in locations like California, Washington, and New Jersey. He recalls an enjoyable experience working with Clutter and “a great job of growing business,” for both companies.
United Material Handling, Inc. has two types of customer relationships. One is with the distributor itself, usually another material handling company that resells the company’s products; the other is with the retail or end-user, to which it sells directly as well. Bartlett remarks that the company’s distributors provide good customer service and rely on it to deliver products in a speedily and efficiently.
He notices that the material handling industry is in a state of rapid growth brought on by the economy and its increased need for e-commerce. Today, companies like Amazon have popularized same-day delivery and in turn, clients want to be able to order online and have the item delivered very quickly. United Material Handling, Inc. innovatively provides warehouse solutions that keep up with this demand.
This desire from customers applies to practically all businesses as they try to compete to get things to customers faster and cheaper. The industry has grown as a result of this movement, and Bartlett feels it will continue to advance into the next decade.
As 2019 winds down, United Material Handling, Inc. will finish its various in-house projects, with more projects to work on into the new year. The company is looking to enter the automation and e-commerce sectors of the business even further and has plans to extend its product lines into automated solutions for warehouses like automated guiding vehicles, autonomous mobile robots, and automated storage and retrieval systems.
Part of this involves retrofitting existing buildings for automated case picking. Bartlett sees most warehouses heading in this direction over the next five years and wants the company to be thinking ahead of the curve. It has certainly seen great success, and United Material Handling, Inc. is poised to take advantage of further opportunities.