Case Study: Sid Harvey’s

Sid Harvey’s opened its doors in 1931 when ‘Mr. Sid” had the vision to get into the oil heat distribution business by selling equipment and parts. Due to the depression, people were short on cash, but still needed heat. So he added our repair shop. When WWII came along, new parts were hard to come by since many manufacturers were contributing to the war effort.  Mr. Sid was able to fill that vacuum by offering jobs to local women if they could turn a screwdriver.

Mr. Sid understood if we wanted to grow the repaired parts business, we had to offer more than just price.  Over time we went from the fix-it repairs (fix what’s broken) to completely rebuilt (take it all apart – fix it – clean it – repaint).

Many of us remember the rebuilt starter or carburetor we purchased from the local auto parts store. When you got home, it was missing a part; at best it was cleaned not repaired and all too often didn’t work. We needed to redefine the term ‘REMANUFACTURE.”

In the mid ’80s, we moved our lab to a 6,000 sq ft space and quickly added six new engineers and technicians. Our mission was to find ways to improve our product to work better than new. One by one all of our ‘A” items went through a series of intense studies to understand why a motor, relay, or pump would fail; and more importantly how could we extend its life. Most times it would only be one part that created the weak link. Since we always sold more new than remanufactured, when the study was complete we would contact the O.E.M. and offer our findings to them. We felt it would be a win-win for all of us. As we got better at discovering why products fail, many missions of O.E.M.s had changed to find ways to produce more economically. Most moved their production offshore. We went our separate ways.

In the early ’90s, we changed our warranty policy to two years when most new products were one year.  We also got UL approval on many of our high volume units. In 2009, we changed our warranty policy to one year greater than the O.E.M. up to a maximum of five years. Today Sid Harvey’s continues the mission to find ways to make products last longer and maintain engineering standards all at a fair price.

In 2005, to stay competitive with all the off shore manufacturers, it was decided to move the factory from a 35,000 sq ft Long Island building to 12 acres in Andrews, S.C. We looked to improve our efficiency by building production lines dedicated to a single product type. This would allow us to move people as defective products became available to meet production requirements.

We could now combine our remanufacturing and new products under the same roof to help us achieve even more flexibility. Today, seven years later, we have over 115,000 sq ft for production, with a combined work force of over 100 people. All but six are new employees.  With seven acres still available, we have space to grow as new products are added.

We often get asked what percent of the used products we receive are in perfect working order. The short answer is we really don’t know. Since our policy is all products are defective, it is our standard procedure to break down all units to their bare parts. From there they go through a rigid cleaning and inspection program. All components must meet O.E.M. specifications, or our re-engineered improved standard. All parts failing these tests will be discarded.  From there products are assembled in a similar manner as you would find at the O.E.M. business.

Unlike some manufacturers, we test every unit we build. When a production run’s testing is completed, it is assigned to Quality Control. An (Q.C.) inspector will do a complete re-evaluation of the run before they can assign it to shipping.  Q.C. also does monthly testing of production fixtures and test equipment.  We also have a daily random Q.C. inspection where a product might be inspected for a third time, or brought to the lab for a complete disassembly inspection. It’s our way of trying to make sure things don’t slip through the cracks.

Another question we hear is where do our remanufactured or new product ideas come from? Most times they come from the customers. We are out in the field often visiting our stores and customers. We also do five to six trade shows a year. In between we bring in as many factory tours as time allows. We love to show off our latest ideas and play a round of golf with our customers.

Sid Harvey’s, like many companies, is very concerned about the future of the oil heat industry. We have been working very aggressively to understand how products will need to change as we go to Ultra Low Sulfur and Bio Fuel mixes. We are also doing extensive studies to determine what additives will be needed to control the bacteria found in Bio Fuel. Our goal is to create an economical fix to maintain oil quality and help make oil service companies more successful.

Well, its 80 years later and still counting. We continue to only build in America.  In remanufacturing products, we help reduce landfill sites. Our original parts replacement will reduce the customer’s down time.  All of this at a fraction of the cost of new.

I guess you could say Mr. Sid had a vision of ‘Go Green & Stay Strong America” long before it was fashionable.

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