It began with Gordon’s dad. In 1970, Les Crawford and Dave Brown purchased McFarland Specialty; the company that would one day evolve into Hose and Rubber Supply. Les’ son, Gordon, started working for Hose and Rubber Supply in 1979 along with his brother Dennis and, in 1998, Les sold the majority of the company to the two brothers and Bill Pollock, with Gordon serving as the company’s new CEO. He served in that role for nearly 25 years and now, after building an incredible career, and even more incredible legacy, he is passing the role on to his heir apparent.
As of October 1, 2022, Scott Hilton is serving as the new CEO of Hose and Rubber Supply.
It’s both the culmination and the beginning of two parallel journeys and it will only serve to take Hose and Rubber to even greater heights.
“It starts when I entered into this industry in 1991,” Hilton began. “When I did, there was a mentor I was introduced to by the name of Les Crawford, who was the owner of Hose and Rubber Supply. I was working for a company out of Salt Lake City and had never been in the industry before and a common business acquaintance connected us together. And for years, from time to time, I would have phone conversations with Les and he kind of took me under his wing.”
The two formed a friendship; one based on mutual respect. But Hilton also formed friendships with Les’ sons, Gordon and Dennis, as well as another partner, Bill Pollock.
Hilton said that along with Les, Gordon, Dennis and Bill offered a significant amount of guidance and advice while he worked for a different company. They would occasionally see each other at various industry conferences and they were always willing and able to help Hilton and his company out whenever they could.
“They helped us to be an even better company,” Hilton offered.
Hilton worked for a few other companies after that, but it was when he returned to Salt Lake City in preparation of purchasing a different company that he got a very interesting phone call.
“I had arranged to purchase a company that was in Salt Lake City,” Hilton stated. “Lo and behold, that deal fell apart so I was back home in Salt Lake City and I didn’t have a job. And then I got a call from Gordon Crawford, out of the blue. He asked me what I was doing, I told him, and he said ‘We need a consultant, why don’t you come work up here?’”
Hilton didn’t have anything to lose (or a job, at the time) so he took Gordon up on the offer and went to a meeting, assuming he would just start consulting for the company. It didn’t quite turn out like that.
“Gordon Crawford asked me a question,” Hilton stated. “He always asks everybody, ‘What do you want? What do you need?’ I said I’d like to own my own company at some point. So, when I left that meeting, I had an agreement that we would start a company in Salt Lake City called Hose and Rubber Supply, LLC. I would own 50% and Hose and Rubber Supply, Inc. would own 50%. Ten years later, when Gordon’s brother Dennis decided to retire, Gordon said ‘Why don’t we combine the two companies? I’ll be the Chief Executive Officer and you be the President.’”
Hilton agreed and the rest, as they say, is history.
Hilton worked as the President of Hose and Rubber for close to 12 years while Gordon remained the CEO. Together, along with highly talented and committed employees, they created something really special.
In that regard, not much will change when Gordon retires and Hilton takes the reins. The foundation that Gordon has laid, one that he inherited from his father and continued to build upon, will only continue to grow. It will only continue to get bigger, to get better.
“The vision of this company is very simple, very succinct, very straightforward,” Hilton said. “It comes from Gordon Crawford himself. The last two sentences of the statement communicate Gordon’s intent. ‘Our goals include building a business everyone is proud to be a part of by recognizing all individuals’ worth and value. We belong to an organization that provides a living today and a retirement tomorrow.’”
That is the company’s vision statement and it is everything that Gordon Crawford (as well as his father and brother) has created Hose and Rubber Supply to be.
“I think it’s important to note what I see as Gordon’s legacy,” Hilton said. “Part of his legacy is that ‘Vision Statement.’ The other is the motto that our company uses, also established by Gordon: ‘Say what you are going to do, and do what you said you would do.’”
It’s a simple motto, a simple mission. But it is the basis of every decision that Hose and Rubber makes; every deal that it strikes, every aspect of service that it delivers. It is also something that’s instilled in every single employee of Hose and Rubber.
“As we engage in these principles, we move the company forward in a reliable, profitable way,” Hilton said. “If customers, vendors, employees – basically all of our partners – can rely on what we say we will do, all parties benefit and our future is secure.”
It’s a future that is bright, for customers, employees, shareholders, stakeholders, and more. It’s the employees, in particular, who are on the forefront of these objectives and key results.
“Our objective is to create a living for everyone today, and a retirement tomorrow,” Hilton said. “We are an ESOP and an ESOP is a retirement plan by definition. And so, we want this to be able to take care of our employees now and in the future.”
Hilton says the company’s goals are aggressive but attainable. Much of our success will come as a result of Hose and Rubber’s partnership with the Gates Corporation. In fact, Hose and Rubber Supply and Gates just celebrated 50 years of partnership.
The Gates Corporations a “leading manufacturer of application-specific fluid power and power transmission solutions.” They create a wide-array of products that Hose and Rubber utilizes and they are a big part of the future of the company.
It’s those types of partnerships that make Hose and Rubber Supply the company that it is today. And it’s the employees that are the most important partners in the company. That is something that Gordon Crawford learned from his father and it’s something that he passed onto Hilton. Never was this more evident than in a story that Hilton shared in which the company was toying with the idea of being purchased by a larger company.
“There was a big company that approached us to buy Hose and Rubber Supply,” Hilton remembered. “And we had this meeting and they presented to us what was important to them, and they asked what was important to us. We asked questions, and one of the questions Gordon asked was ‘What happens with the employees?’”
“He says, ‘Well, for the administrative employees, we don’t really need that. We’ve got accounting and purchasing [employees already]. So we don’t need those employees, unless they wanna move to where the corporate offices are, and if we have positions available.’”
Hilton said that after the meeting, he and Gordon and the rest of the team went to lunch to discuss the terms of the deal.
“Gordon doesn’t say a lot, but when he does, it’s impactful,” Hilton said. “He ultimately said, ‘We could sell this and we could cash in and we could walk away with a lot of money. But there’s a question that I had, that I didn’t get an answer to. And if I walk out of this place with a lot of money, and I tell the employees, ‘We’re leaving because we get a lot of money, and you are benefitting because of…this. But they couldn’t answer the this part of it, so I ain’t doing it.’”
So, they sold the company to the employees instead. This is why Hose & Rubber Supply is an ESOP. (Employee Stock Ownership Plan)
That is how much Gordon Crawford values his employees. It’s how much Scott Hilton values his employees.
“When we did the ESOP, we sold the company to the employees,” Hilton said. “So the employees have to operate the company, and then pay Gordon and the initial owners back, and then it’s theirs, as we go forward. And that, to me, is an example of being aware of the needs of others and asking those questions: ‘What do you want? What do you need?”
Gordon Crawford wanted somebody that he could trust to take Hose and Rubber Supply into the future. He needed somebody that was capable; somebody that knew what he and his family stood for, and who had those same beliefs and vision. He found that person in Scott Hilton.
“I can’t think of a better person to run this company than Scott Hilton,” Crawford stated. “He’s been with us for 19 years and he knows and loves this company just like my dad, my brother, and I do. He’s surrounded by a team of people who believe in this company, who believed in us, and who believe in him. I’m proud to call Scott a friend and I’m proud to call him the new CEO of Hose and Rubber Supply.”
Hilton, himself, is equally proud.
“I feel very fortunate to have been able to be a part of this company,” Hilton said. “I’ve been here for 19 years now and it’s just a quality organization. It has taught me a lot. It has improved me as a businessman and as a person. When I thought I was visiting Gordon to discuss a consulting contract, the two questions Gordon asked me were ‘What do you want and what do you need?’ And he’s basically asking, ‘What do you want to accomplish in life, and how can I help you get there?’”
Those are the questions Gordon asked Scott, and those are the questions he will continue to ask to his own people.
‘What do you want? What do you need? How can I help you get there?’ That is the legacy of Gordon Crawford. That is the legacy of Hose and Rubber Supply. And now, as Scott Hilton continues to build his own legacy, those are the questions that will guide every decision the company makes.