Being part of a €2 billion international company could be intimidating for a small, New Jersey-based business but that’s not the case for IBOCO. After the 2015 acquisition of Bocchiotti (IBOCO’s former parent company) by the Hager Group, IBOCO became part of an even larger global organization. However, the company remains true to its philosophy of focusing on providing a great place to work for employees and exceptional customer service. With the backing of the Hager Group, IBOCO will continue on its current path but is now better prepared for the future.
IBOCO is a place where the staff is used to performing multiple jobs, helping each other out, and socializing together. The company is lean and flexible to manage customers’ needs and urgent requests – even if it means leaving one task to help a co-worker with another. This nimbleness fits in well with the Hager Group’s overall ambition to “not act like a big company but act like an entrepreneur,” as Hager Group CEO Daniel Hager has stated.
That’s exactly what IBOCO President Larry Darst intends to do. “I’ve only been with the company for three years. Most of the employees have worked here 10 plus years. There is a high retention rate for the staff because we all work as a team and work together really well,” explains Darst. “Having the backing of a multi-national company is just what we need to keep doing what we’re doing but just a little bit better, faster, and smarter.”
IBOCO provides integrated panel management systems and products for the electrical industry. For nearly 30 years, the company has built its reputation on solid customer service with a “quicker than expected” response time. In the recent acquisition, IBOCO was brought into the Hager Group of companies. The Hager Group, based in France, is a leading supplier of solutions and services for electrical installations in residential, commercial, and industrial buildings throughout the world. The company was founded in 1955 by the Hager brothers and today remains an independent family-owned enterprise.
Small Business Teamwork
IBOCO was established in 1986 by its original parent company Bocchiotti to provide the base for its U.S. operations. This allowed Bocchiotti to further expand the company’s European leadership role in the wire management industry into the United States. Since then, IBOCO has become the number-two player in the market providing integrated panel management systems and products designed to simplify the installation process and provide end-users with time and labor-saving solutions.
The success of IBOCO is based in its deep commitment to customer satisfaction accomplished through teamwork. The employees of IBOCO work together with the objective of “improving the company and ourselves each day.” This is a goal they share as they work to serve the customers of IBOCO as well as each other. Darst explains: “We’re always looking for ways to improve ourselves whether it’s keeping a promise to a customer or helping out a co-worker, we can all work to be just a little bit better at what we do every day.” One of the ways Darst and IBOCO help support the employee team is through a plentiful assortment of benefits not found at many small businesses. The company will match up to 6% of the employees’ 401k plan, offers a generous time off program with sick time, personal days and vacations, and pays 75% of employees’ health care premiums. Employees also get $500 bonuses for meeting personal fitness goals such as losing weight or running in a 5K race. Darst says: “It’s all part of the ‘trying to be a little bit better’ philosophy.”
As a small company, the IBOCO employees enjoy spending their off hours together as well. Many times, they get together at sporting events, company outings, and celebrations. During the summer, older children of employees can come into the office to help out with simple jobs. “It’s important to let people know they’re essential to the company – each one of our employees is a valuable asset to IBOCO. We want them to know that and understand we’ll all in this together,” said Darst.
Industry Changes and Growing with Hager Group Support
Since IBOCO has been in the business, the wire management industry has seen few changes. Darst explains: “The industry still has a long way to go in making things smaller. Computer chips, components, and similar products have all gotten smaller as technology progresses and we’ve seen this in other industries but not yet in our own. There are also thousands of end-users – the panel builders. This extreme fragmentation could change with some mergers and partnerships on a regional basis. This type of consolidation could help the industry move forward more strongly in using more cutting-edge technology.”
Even with few changes, the industry continues to grow and IBOCO has too. IBOCO’s inventory has grown so large that they need a bigger space for warehousing and distribution but also for low-level manufacturing of new products. The company is currently looking to expand its operations to a new facility but, in keeping with its employee focus, wants to find a location that all the current staff can commute to in a reasonable time.
With the backing of the Hager Group, IBOCO expects to grow its business even further in the next five years. “Hager will allow us to remove some of our weaknesses. We need to update our servers and computers to become state-of-the-art with our technology. We need to develop better methods of transferring information between computers. Most importantly, we need to grow through our supply chain partners like AutomationDirect,” said Darst.
To meet the company’s goal of becoming the number-one player in the market, it must look for ways to improve through steady growth in sales and earnings. Darst explains: “Hager and ADC support us in new product development. IBOCO will remain in the automation industry but will develop new products in non-metallic and metallic enclosures; going head-to-head with our competitors to reduce their strength in the market. In the long-term IBOCO is exploring new opportunities in fusing and breakers. By being a part of the Hager Group, we can now fill in our product gaps to catch up and surpass the competition as well as look for new products to add to our inventory.”
What won’t change is the IBOCO dedication to its customers and employees. “Our people are really good at what they do and they really care,” said Darst. “Even if the customer is wrong, we’ll make it right for them. We want to provide the best service at the best prices.” Based on this Darst predicts: “It wouldn’t surprise me for IBOCO to double its business. The future is bright. We work hard and do the right thing.” [hozbreak]