They call him the ‘Sunshine Enforcer.’
When Gene Hinton first began working at Hose & Rubber Supply Company in 2013, he brought with him a certain sense of positivity. It’s something he learned during his time in the United States Military, during which he earned the rank of Sergeant.
“Out of high school, I had a job, but a buddy and I wanted to do something that was a little bit of an adventure,” Hinton reflected. “We were young boys and so we both joined the army. I was in the infantry based out of El Paso, Texas. I did four years in the army and ended up making Sergeant before I was done. I had my own little team, and we went to Iraq for a year, from 2009 to 2010. Then, my wife got pregnant with my boy Carsen, and I decided to hang up the boots and go back to living a normal life.”
Part of living that ‘normal life,’ was getting a ‘normal job,’ which is where Hose & Rubber Supply came in.
“My dad (Don Hinton) has worked for Hose & Rubber for over 40 years,” Hinton said. “When I left the military, I called Gordon and Don and that’s how I got here.”
Hinton began working for Hose & Rubber Supply in 2013, starting out in the warehouse. After that, he became the Warehouse Manager and now he is a Field Service Representative for the Casper, Worland, Riverton, and Thermopolis markets.
“This isn’t something I ever saw myself doing,” Hinton laughed. “But then I started doing it and found out I was reasonably decent at it. I like the challenge of the job. Customers with difficult projects are my favorite kind. I get to kind of solve a puzzle every time I help them out.”
Hinton loves solving puzzles. He loves helping people. And, most of all, he loves doing it with a smile on his face and kindness in his heart. It’s something he learned from his days in the service.
“One of the biggest lessons I learned in the army was that morale is key,” he stated. “You can get through the worst experiences as long as everyone keeps a good attitude.”
That’s something he learned literally in the midst of war, and it’s an idea that has continued to serve him well throughout his career.
“Back in the old days, we used to have nicknames on all of our little log-in screens,” Hinton reflected. “Mine was ‘The Sunshine Enforcer.’ That’s always been something that I’m better at. When we’re totally overloaded and everyone’s way too busy, somehow I can keep a positive attitude about it or make a joke.”
That’s not to say that he doesn’t take his job seriously, however. He does, which is why he has risen through the ranks the way that he has. He’s not afraid to ask questions, he’s not afraid to say, ‘I don’t know,’ and he’s not afraid to do the work in order to figure out the answer when he doesn’t.
“When I first started, every time I had a question Jim Martin would say, ‘Look it up.’” Hinton said. “Even though he knew the answer, he always had me go to the catalog to find it. It made me get better at research and finding the answers to questions that I didn’t know yet. A lot of the guys were brought up that way.”
And when it comes to being brought up, both as a man and as an employee, Hinton knows all about it. His father, Don, also works for Hose & Rubber Supply Company, in a managerial role. Surprisingly, father and son working together doesn’t have as many hiccups as one might expect.
“It’s taken us a lot of years to make the rule of ‘No Work Talk on the Weekends,’” Hinton laughed. “As far as having him at the office; that’s been wonderful. At work, he’s a godsend and we couldn’t do it without him. After work, we don’t talk about it.”
It’s the right kind of work/life balance and it’s one of the reasons both Hinton men are such vital parts of Hose & Rubber Supply. Another big reason is because both of them, as well as everybody else that works at Hose & Rubber, care about the products they are building, and the products they are selling. They care about making sure the customer is taken care of, every step of the way.
“We honestly care about the problem our customers are having,” Hinton stated. “We’re not just going to give them a solution that will work for now, we’ll give them a solution that will give them longevity on their hoses. Our goal is to make sure we’re selling them the right tool for the job; that way the customer doesn’t have to deal with the same problem over and over and over again. We want to eliminate their frustrations.”
He continued, stating that “We like to be the easy button. Whatever is easiest for the customer, whether it’s finding a part number or something else entirely, we want to be the easy button. Then it will be worth them spending their money with us because we make their lives easier.”
And really, that’s the entire goal of Hose & Rubber Supply – to make life easier for their customers and to maybe make them smile on their way out the door. Luckily, that’s something Hinton is very good at doing. He is the Sunshine Enforcer, after all.