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Outsourced laser etching helps MRO distributor satisfy customers and grow sales.

When your company stocks more than 45,000 products, and your promise to your customers is “The Right Part, in the Right Place, at the Right Time”, keeping things organized is a top strategic priority. Tifco Industries, an MRO distributor with facilities in Houston, TX and Reno, NV has been delivering on that promise since 1961.

ToolKeepers laser etching on Tifco Industries hydraulic test kits
Laser etched parts numbers are an important aspect of Tifco's best-selling product line.

Big goals require creative solutions

Tifco ships every order within 24 hours and maintains a 98% product fill rate. They’ve had to engineer some creative solutions to overcome challenges and sustain this impressive service record. One such solution, fueled by a partnership with ToolKeepers, is a shining example of how creative product packaging and strategic outsourcing can create a strong competitive advantage.

One of the company’s flagship product categories is its line of hydraulic test tools used by customers to keep their dozers, backhoes, excavators, and other heavy equipment running properly. These adapters are used to perform regular pressure tests to identify leaks, broken seals, or blockage in hydraulic lines. Tifco stocks hundreds of different adapters that would be a nightmare for the distributor to sell and for their customers to use without the help of ToolKeepers.

“ToolKeepers helps us be certain that kits are built as they should be. Their etching service assures our quality control.” –Jonathan Wiener, Tifco Industries Product Manager

An idea and a dilemma

Tifco came to ToolKeepers in 2014 with an idea and a dilemma. Their customers were responding well to their hydraulic test kits that combined different hydraulic adapters into custom kits. Instead of buying a bunch of individual adapters, they could buy one kit with the set of test tools needed to service their particular vehicle, whether it be a John Deere tractor, a Komatsu dozer, or a Volvo truck.

The problem, however, was the potential ambiguity of all these small adapters, some just an inch or two long. For the kits to function, each part had to be identified and organized. “Without a company stamp and a part number on each part, it would be an unusable kit after the first couple uses.” said Tifco Product Manager, Jonathan Wiener. Our customers need to know quickly where the part should be stored after use, and how to order a new one if it gets lost.” The Tifco solution involved labels on each adapter and a printed diagram inside each kit.

hydraulic fittings with laser etching part numbers
Part number laser etching helps Tifco and its customers.

ToolKeepers’ laser etching capability to the rescue

Using versatile laser equipment, ToolKeepers can etch words, letters, numbers, and logos into virtually any surface. The laser engraving will never fade or rub off and can accommodate a flat or curved surface from less than 1 mm to 12 inches square. The etching process is quick, cost effective and solves problems of part identification and organization. In addition, laser etched logos on a product allows a company to build brand awareness and loyalty thereby building strong sales pipelines.

A single Tifco laser etching order in 2014 has turned into nearly 43,000 units etched in 2022. Each order of 4,000-6,000 parts is completed by ToolKeepers in 2-3 days and shipped via commercial freight directly to Tifco’s warehouse. Wiener acknowledges that ToolKeepers’ etching capability is only part of the reason for the long partnership. “The many different parts we sell can get complicated. ToolKeepers keeps all parts separated and labeled before they’re shipped. When a palette arrives at our receiving dock, the boxes of etched parts are easy to inventory and parts are immediately ready to be picked from warehouse shelves. ToolKeepers makes the process seamless.”

The power of a committed outsourcing partner

Tifco’s hydraulic test tools program dominates the market. No competitor comes close to delivering the scope and value to customers that Tifco can. Their decision to outsource parts etching to ToolKeepers is a key factor in the success of this product category. “ToolKeepers does such a good job we don’t even think about it”, says Wiener. And for a business that manages tens of thousands of products-and gets them to the right place, at the right time, every time–being able to trust a vendor to deliver laser etching with the same kind of precision is a huge asset.

The ToolKeepers team is grateful for our laser etching partnership with Tifco and honored to be part of their success.


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