Banner Image
Uniting Strengths: Collaborative Innovation for Growth

Uniting Strengths: Collaborative Innovation for Growth

George Giudici
Crescent Parts & Equipment
November 7, 2023

As an Evergreen® leader, I believe deeply in leading a People First organization. As part of that belief, I understand the value of relationships. Taking the time to establish trust and communication – with colleagues, customers, suppliers, and community members – unlocks the doors for collaboration, and collaboration is one of the most effective paths I know to innovation. As the third-generation leader of Crescent Parts & Equipment (CPE), some of the relationships I have the honor of maintaining exist not simply between individuals, but between the company my grandfather founded and people in his sphere who have been friends for more than a generation.

CPE is an HVACR (heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration) parts and equipment wholesale distributor in Missouri, Illinois, and Iowa. The nature of our business means that we often partner with service technicians, builders, and other professionals, so collaboration is necessary and frequent. Some of our relationships, however, date back farther and are stronger than others. Hoffmann Brothers is a great example. They are a prominent HVAC service provider based in St. Louis, and we have been their primary equipment supplier for quite some time. Their CEO is also a fellow member of Tugboat Institute®! Hoffmann Brothers is one of our largest accounts and their family and ours have been friends for over a generation. I spend a lot of time outside work with Robert Hoffmann and his sons Chris and Joe, who are the current CEO and GM-St Louis Operations. I have known Chris and Joe since they were kids.

Our business with Hoffmann Brothers happens in two primary ways. Let’s say you wake up in the morning and your house is too hot or too cold. You call Hoffmann Brothers, or a similar company. They come and evaluate the situation, and they either need to replace an old part with a new one, or they advise you that the unit is too old to fix, and you need to replace it entirely. Either way, they come to us for the part or new unit.

A few years ago, I was out on a hunting trip with Robert, Chris, and Joe. In the evening, after a long day in the field, we started talking shop. We saw some inherent inefficiencies in the process we were using, and we knew that if we could figure out how to enhance our respective positions in the marketplace, we would all win, so we started brainstorming ways to improve. We hit on the idea that if we could figure out how to handle the product less, we would both see improvements.

When we got home, I reached out to a professor who is a supply chain optimization expert from the University of Missouri-St. Louis, with whom we had worked before. The collaboration was a collective effort, with Crescent and Hoffmann Brothers working closely together throughout the process. Ultimately, we designed our solution together. The vision was simple yet powerful: a dedicated, shared space inside of a Hoffmann Brothers’ location, solely dedicated to handling their HVAC requirements.

Our primary goal was to streamline processes, reduce handling costs, and optimize inventory management. We knew that our expertise in lean principles and supply chain optimization could be instrumental in achieving this vision. In April 2022, we officially launched the collaboration. We stationed two Crescent employees within a Hoffmann Brothers’ building, providing easy access to the parts and equipment needed for daily jobs. The Crescent section of the approximately 18,000 square foot building occupies about 2,400 square feet, so it’s a significant footprint. Every afternoon, our employees prepare the materials for the next day, ensuring that Hoffmann Brothers’ technicians have everything they need when they arrive in the morning. By about 3pm, our team starts packaging and staging the materials that each Hoffmann Brothers team will need for the next day – air conditioners, furnaces, parts, and components. They set them in the area dedicated to each team, so when the Hoffmann Brothers employees show up for work at 6:30 or 7am, they just grab their pallets and go.

The most significant and immediate benefit of the collaboration has been the improved customer service experienced by Hoffmann Brothers’ clients. With our dedicated employees on-site, the response time for obtaining parts and equipment has been significantly reduced. This streamlined process results in faster turnaround times for repairs and installations, ultimately leading to increased customer satisfaction. By reducing the distance and time involved in sourcing parts and equipment, we made the entire process more efficient. This approach eliminated waste and redundancies, making the overall system leaner and more cost-effective for both our companies.

The collaboration and subsequent innovation were built on a foundation of trust and friendship between Crescent and Hoffmann Brothers. The fact that we are both Evergreen companies is an easy way to articulate what really underpins the success of our partnership: a shared set of values, similar long-term mindsets, and a deep commitment to improving the experience of our employees, customers, and partners.

As the President of Crescent, I am proud of the steps we have taken to foster collaboration and innovation. The success of this partnership has taught me valuable lessons about the power of trust, lean principles, and customer-centricity. Moving forward, I am excited to build on this experience and continue exploring new ways to enhance our relationships with customers and drive positive change within our industry.

Subscribe to the Evergreen Journal