I.S.K. Industries

Zoo Interchange Project

In an ever-changing industry, I.S.K. Industries is working towards being at the forefront of the next big technological innovation.

By Bianca Herron

Ever since Irving S. Kemp founded I.S.K. Industries Inc. in 1928, the company has continued to build its business on forging strong relationships, solving customer problems and providing lasting solutions.

Nearly 90 years later, I.S.K. is one of the Midwest’s premier manufacturer’s representative firms, active in the industrial, construction, safety and consumer home hardware markets.

President Denise Pircher, third-generation family member, attributes the company’s longevity in the industry to being nimble when the market called for it. “About six years ago, the market changed when safety products became a big part of our world,” she says. “We were really forced to get into the safety market, and now we also see the infiltration of other markets, like welding, on the rise.”

Additionally, I.S.K.’s latest challenge is to figure out how to remain relevant with technology, specifically with the strong wave of e-commerce shopping. “We’re trying to find ways to get credit for the sales we do in the field, which is hard with the Amazon’s out there,” Pircher explains. “When these new channels are introduced into our industry, we have to figure out how they fit and how we can make it work for our customers.” 

For I.S.K., it’s about providing a “synergy of product offerings” to its end-users and customers. Its No. 1 goal is to ensure I.S.K. provides quality products that are not only safe, but also contribute to the workers productivity, Pircher notes.

Working Together

I.S.K.’s dedicated team of 22 employees consists of 16 outside field sellers and 6 inside sales and marketing professionals. The company’s field sellers, who work in I.S.K.’s industrial and safety segments, live throughout the 16 Midwest states the company represents. ISK Industries box

“Our goal is to have our salespeople intimate with both distributors and end-users in their territory,” Pircher says. “Often, we are the constant for the end-user customer because distributor and manufacturer salespeople tend to turnover frequently.”

The rest of I.S.K.’s employees are based in its 20,000-square-foot Rolling Meadows, Ill., corporate office and warehouse. “When manufacturer’s want us to assist with setting their shows up at events, we bring their booths to our office and make sure they’re ready to go with our show products, literature and signage,” Pircher notes.

I.S.K. values a hands-on and personal training experience. That is why the company likes partnering with both family-owned and American-based products and companies. “Product training is so much more impactful when my sales team can visit the factory and see how the product is made,” Pircher says. “We can also meet the owners, workers and clearly understand the expectations and objectives the company is looking for.”

She adds that I.S.K.’s strength is not only in its relationships with key distributors and end-users, but also the company’s ability to communicate throughout this process. “I’m most proud of our company because of my team,” she says. “They are hardworking, quality people and are the reason we have fantastic relationships with our distributors and end-users.

“For example, if a customer has an issue and cannot find the solution or product to solve the issue, they will ask my salespeople who then come to me,” she continues. “From there, we all work together to find a viable solution to their problem.”

As I.S.K. moves forward, it’s planning a meeting in the coming months to discuss its growth and expansion in 2018 and beyond. “Although we have partners in a national sales model, we’re not sure if that is where we’d like to go,” Pircher says. “However, we’re exploring our options in regards to our future.”

Pircher serves as a committee member of the Women’s Industrial Supply Executive (W.I.S.E.) and Industrial Manufacturer’s Representative (IMR) Special Interest Group. Both are part of the Industrial Supply Association, of which Pircher is also a member.

“With the changing industry we have, every agency in our field is interested in learning about where the industry is headed,” she concludes. “We want to know what the landscape of the independent sales agency will look like in the next 10 years because we see it changing faster now with the influence of technology. Ultimately, we all want to be at the forefront of the next best thing.”

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