Highway Products, Inc. (HPI) was formed in 1980 by Gene Gros to provide custom tool boxes and accessories for trucks. Previously, he was working for a metal fabrication shop and noticed there was a high demand for custom fabricated metal accessories for both commercial and recreational uses.
Their main product lines include custom truck toolboxes, truck flatbeds, service bodies and other accessories that can be fabricated from aluminum or steel. In 2009, they added aluminum drift boats to their line which now includes manufacturing high-end, wakeboard boats under the Pavati Marine brand.
Located in White City, Oregon, HPI gets over 75% of their business referrals through their respective websites, www.800toolbox.com and www.pavati.com. They currently have sales that exceed $6.8 M annually, employ a staff of 72 and have both national and international customers. His customer values are admirable to where he tells his staff, "We make our customers happy, then we make money."
In September of 2010, HPI engaged in counseling with Dave Ellison and Steve Spilker at the Rogue Community College Small Business Development Center as part of the Next Level Plan program. In 2012, he enrolled into the OSBDC “Grow Oregon” program. According to Dave Ellison, “We engaged with a client who had already developed a strong e-commerce presence and vertically integrated manufacturing processes to maintain his high quality standards.” Steve Spilker pointed out a recent expansion HPI undertook so they could do their own powder coating in house. “HPI was having quality control and turnaround time issues on projects being sent out for powder coating. So Gene researched the process, analyzed the return and made that part of his manufacturing process.”
More recently, the sales growth of HPI has required Gene to change his view of how he manages his rapidly growing company. In 2012, his sales have grown by over $1.7 M over his 2011 performance. He has also gained over 25 new FTE in his staffing levels from 2011. More recently, his Grow Oregon counseling team has worked extensively with him on supporting his recruiting efforts for executive level managers to supervise his marketing and production efforts. He has now filled both those positions to establish the management infrastructure necessary for further growth.
He credits having access to the expertise of his RCC SBDC counseling team with helping him develop a more strategic approach to business growth. He notes, “Their advice, suggestions, and a little prodding woke me up to where I am seeing for the first time what Highway Products is capable of, and we are now doing it!”