Keeping Industry Running Smoothly
Anti-Seize Technology manufactures and distributes industrial lubricants, sealants and adhesives – products necessary to keep businesses operating. The company’s core focus is on anti-seize compounds; without this crucial product, the world’s industrial production would grind to a halt due to the destructive nature of constant, metal-to-metal contact.
In order to meet the demands of its many customers, the Chicago area business sells over 15 different anti-seize products – a wider range than any other manufacturer. These anti-seize compounds are made from either highly refined petroleum-base stocks or from fully synthetic bases.
Pipe thread sealants and plumbing compounds also make up an important part of the business. Products in this area include Poly-Temp® and Poly-Temp® XHD™ PTFE Tapes, AST-Seal™ Anaerobic Pipe Thread Sealants, a range of Paste Style Thread Sealants, Plumber’s Putty, Mildew resistant Silicone, Pipe Joint and Gasket Lubricants, and Pipe Cutting Oils.
In addition to anti-seize compounds and thread sealants, the company also supplies Threadlockers, RTV Silicones, Greases, Aerosol Maintenance products, Industrial Hard Surface Cleaners, Expanded PTFE Joint Sealants, PTFE Valve Stem Packings, Cyanoacrylate Adhesives, and a variety of dispensing products.
From mom and pop machine shops to massive petro/chemical facilities, virtually any industrial operation depends on lubricants, sealants and adhesives. As a result, Anti-Seize Technology enjoys a diverse customer base that includes petroleum refineries, steel mills, paper mills, marine, transportation, earth moving equipment, agriculture, mining, food processing, fire protection, plumbing, heavy and light duty construction industries, OEMs, MROs, and many more.
When John Heydt Sr. took over the company in 1981, the business sold just three products. “Now we have over 150,” he says. His strategy has been to supply products that are in strong demand by the majority of industry in order to ensure brisk sales. “I try to find the products that are used by 80% of industry. It is hard to please everybody, so I don’t chase the 20%; I try to provide the more needed products.”
Most of the products Anti-Seize Technology sells are manufactured in-house. Competing with overseas manufacturers is not easy, but the company manages to come out ahead through careful management. “We have a low overhead for sales and general administration; we keep that in check. A smaller overhead keeps us competitive.” Mr. Heydt says that the company’s small size and longtime experience enables the team to maintain that control. “We have been doing it for so long that we have a good system.”
Mr. Heydt acknowledges that the company’s products could be manufactured more cheaply in China, but points out that the shipping cost would negate much of the savings. Furthermore, manufacturing in-house allows Anti-Seize Technology to control the quality of its product – and quality is one of the company’s big selling points. “We maintain high quality. Within the last ten years I have seen our competition cheapen the quality of their product to lower cost. We don’t do that. People buy our products because they know we offer high quality.”
The team also tests all of the company’s products to ensure superior quality. “We do a lot of in-house testing to make sure our products perform like we say the do,” Mr. Heydt shares. “We test them against our competitors to make sure they perform better than our best competition.” When manufacturing or testing a product, the team always keeps the end user in mind. “Those people work with their hands. They are down in the trenches and they can’t afford to use a cheap product. [They] demand that we offer a high quality product.”
Of course, quality comes with a price, so the company’s products are not the least expensive on the market. But, as the saying goes, you get what you pay for, and a little more upfront goes a long way when it keeps machines operating longer and more smoothly. And, while the team cannot offer rock bottom prices, they do make sure that the price is reasonable. “Life is short. I don’t believe in gouging and opportunistic pricing. Our pricing is very fair and always has been. Our distributors and customers recognize that.”
Anti-Seize Technology maintains a constant focus on customer satisfaction – even when it comes at a cost to the business. For instance, the company does not have a minimum purchase requirement. “We do not require case minimums or pallet minimums,” explains Mr. Heydt. “If someone wants to buy one can, we will sell one can. We recognize that most people don’t want inventory. If you want to spend $3.00, we will spend $12.00 to process the order and sell it to you.” While this approach might seem counter productive, it wins over customers, ensuring more business in the long run. “We know they will come back to us because they know we are not just out for the almighty dollar.”
The team’s willingness to sell in small quantities has been more important than ever since the recession. “We are handling a lot more orders than we have ever had, but they are smaller in quantity. People don’t have the money; they only want to spend on what they absolutely need.”
Anti-Seize Technology also wins over customers by stocking items regardless of how low sales drop; if just one customer wants the item, the team believes it is worth offering. “We don’t drop products,” says Mr. Heydt. “We keep products even if the sales are low… it is good for our customers.”
The company maintains a strong sales department and customer service department to ensure that customers’ needs are met. “We stress our customer needs as priority number one. When people call they get a live person; they don’t get put on hold for an extended period of time. [That is] very different from the competition. We try to have personal contact.” This customer centric focus has paid off nicely. “We sell to distributors around the world,” Mr. Heydt reports.
Mr. Heydt has been working within the industry for decades. “I have been in the lubricant sealant [business] since almost my first day working on a job, back in the 1960s. I have stayed in that business and I understand it,” he says. After leaving the industry for two tours in Vietnam, Mr. Heydt reentered the industry and eventually purchased Anti-Seize Technology after working his way up the ranks. This salt of the earth background has shaped his approach to business – and has helped secure the company’s success. “Nothing was handed to me. I learned what it is like to work in a factory. I appreciate the people who work for me and I treat them as they want to be treated.” This attitude wins the favor of employees and inspires them to work hard. “I keep in touch with the employees and they respect that. We don’t have a lot of turnover.”
In fact, the tight-knit company has several Heydt family members working in key positions – but only if they have proven competent on the job. “I don’t believe in nepotism. I treat everyone fairly; I don’t show favoritism.” Minority investors who help run the company have all proven their ability and earned their place at the top. As a result, Mr. Heydt can trust that the business will run smoothly, even when he is away. “I can be gone for a week or two and I have people here who have skin in the game, so I don’t have any concerns.”
While he does want to be aware of any major decisions, Mr. Heydt believes that it is important to give managers the freedom they need to maintain successful operations. As he says, “I don’t micromanage.”
He also believes that Anti-Seize Technology should avoid loans whenever possible. He has managed to keep the business running – and paid off the company’s building – without maintaining any debt. “I believe in saving. I have always had a savings account regardless of how many dollars I have. I try to stay away from banks; I finance my own equipment and expenses from our own savings account here.” The problem with going to banks, Mr. Heydt says, is the high interest rates that come with their loans. The company does maintain a line of credit for emergency use, but “we only used that once in the history of the company and we paid it back.”
Armed with a high quality, in-demand product line, superior customer service, and classic, no-nonsense business principles, Anti-Seize Technology has been a success story since 1971. As long as industry is running machines, there will be a need for industrial lubricants, sealants and adhesives – and Anti-Seize Technology plans to continue supplying those needs for many more decades to come.