Today's customer has high expectations. The power of technology and the wide offerings available to consumers each day set a precedent for not only the best products – but those that can anticipate and serve their needs. While this mindset has grown with the advent of companies such as Uber transforming the taxi industry, and Airbnb modernizing hotel choices, there is one company in the motion and control space who has honed its skill of predicting customers' needs since 1917: Parker Hannifin Corporation.
It was the vision of businessman and inventor Art Parker to apply his passion for engineering and invention to serve the needs of many. From his first pneumatic braking system which harnessed compressed air to stop heavy vehicles effectively and safely, Art was thinking of how Parker's innovations could aid its customers. As this passion grew, the company projected and applied solutions to the needs of both the aviation and automobile markets, leading Parker to be the number one company in the motion and control market globally today, producing innovative, market-driven, system solutions.
To do this, it all goes back to Parker's initial premise of listening to the customer to best foresee and serve their needs, according to Asia Pacific Group President Kurt Keller.
"Famous hockey player Wayne Gretzky always said, ‘you can't skate to where the puck is, you have to skate to where the puck is going to be.' This is what Parker has done. By listening to the voice of the customer, we work hard to anticipate their needs, so we can provide products, services and systems that help to ensure their success."
There are countless examples of Parker's commitment to the customer experience, but for Keller, one of the most memorable was the introduction of the Parkrimp hose crimper system. Launched from the Hose Products Division as the 1980s began, the Parkrimp would become the premier hose assembly solution, surpassing all of Parker's competitors' offerings—a solution that offered simplicity of hose assemblies for everything from front end loaders to trucks and tractors, attracting many global customers.
The primary benefit of Parker's Parkrimp system was the design of the "teeth" of the hose fitting, which literally enabled it to "put the bite on the braid." The result was a field-crimp product that Parker's customers and distributors could utilize that simplified the hose installation process. The Parkrimp's ability to eliminate hose cover skiving – a manual, time-consuming stripping of the hose prior to assembly – and achieve the metal-to-metal grip of factory assemblies, revolutionized the process for markets worldwide, making it the industry standard today.
"In the 1980s, all of us were out there trying to sell Parkrimp. The fact that it was the best product on the market overcame all of the pricing objections—nobody could beat you from a performance standpoint."
Keller spent 15 years in Parker's Fluid Connectors Group. This pride in innovation for alternative, effective solutions is a focus Parker continues today.
"We listen to the voice of the customer and create an innovative product, and then align that product with various market requirements. We've got to be able to have an eye on the future based upon today."
Keller is utilizing his earliest insights on customer experience to lead the Asia Pacific Group's efforts.
"There is an unbelievable diversity of cultures working together here in Asia and the Parker message resonates. We are going to engineer the success of all customers associated with us. Whether it's through innovation, services or training, we are really focused on improving the performance of our customers' products, which will lead to improvement in the overall quality of life for everyone."
This post is the ninth in a series of leadership interviews to commemorate Parker's centennial anniversary. To learn more about Parker's history, visit www.parker.com/centennial.
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