Rudd Industrial is unlike most independents in that it has developed into an expansive, ‘go-to’ B2B supplier servicing businesses throughout the Western Australia engineering and mining sectors, with the majority of its sales channelled through its extensive Welshpool warehouse.
While the business was built largely as a fastener supplier since the early 1980s, today its two stores deliver product categories covering the complete complement of engineering, manufacturing, mining and transport entities. Additionally, its two separate showrooms ensure there is plenty of space for general public retail sales as well.
It was Ian Rudd who initially established the Midvale branch on Farrall Road in 1984. Today these premises remain a convenient location for local businesses as well as those travelling from agricultural regions throughout the Western Australian Wheatbelt. A second store was then opened in Welshpool 1997 to service the increasing demand from industrial businesses in the area, before it moved to a larger purpose-built premises on Orrong Road in 2016.
The business was taken over by new owners, Howard Richardson and Brett Mitchell in 2005. Both Howard and Brett had extensive backgrounds working with Wesfarmers within the rural sector and were keen to use their experience to modernise the business by introducing new management systems, state-of-the-art POS, inventory management and warehousing systems.
Darren Read and Justin Marendoli-Murray (Chief Financial Officer) joined the partnership in 2013, which was also around the time that the business began to focus primarily on industrial products and consumables and the business name was simplified to Rudd Industrial.
Rudd Industrial has come a long way since its humble beginnings and now services the entire Perth metro area, with three sales representatives on the road full time.
Darren says the Rudd business is particularly unique because there is no other business with such a comprehensive offering within the independent hardware space.
“Rudd’s offer varies from many other independent stores because we present a specialised fastener range, as well as premium safety products, extensive abrasive range, drilling, tapping, lifting and rigging, tooling as well as general consumables. We stock only premium industrial trade quality products and our primary competitors are national retailers,” he said.
“We provide the entire range of specialists’ products across an expansive range of categories because we need to fulfill the needs of a diverse range of customers. Our customer base includes engineering and manufacturing companies who source a lot of fasteners and abrasives exclusively from us. These companies could range from having a dozen staff to several hundred staff. We also deal with labour-hire companies that may conduct shutdowns on mines and we often put tooling for containers together for these customers that they can take to the site they are working on.”
“There are plenty of basic engineering companies that come to us as well as people who service transport who may build or modify truck trailers. We also supply specially manufactured studs and bolts. We have a couple of different companies that manufacture unique fasteners for us for those with special needs,” Darren said.
While the Midvale store is designed with a user-friendly setup so owner-operator customers with smaller workshops of around 30 staff can visit the store and self-serve, Darren says the Welshpool store focuses more on the larger customers who may have more specialised requests when it comes to supply.
“Welshpool customers generally come from larger companies where a company representative comes to us to source all the products they might need for some time. Whilst many collect pre-ordered goods, customers can still walk around the store and shop traditionally if they choose.”
Considering the scale of Rudd Industrial’s customer base, one would think it would be difficult to source supply, however the business focuses on using local suppliers wherever possible particularly those with a network and warehouse in Western Australia.
“We are not restricted to an individual supply source for any given product which gives us flexibility and an advantage over national supplier competitors. We use our vast industry knowledge to source a range of products for our clients. We maintain competitive pricing paired with a premium level of service, which is why we continue to achieve such strong growth,” Darren said.
After outgrowing its previous premises, Rudd Industrial moved its Kewdale Road business to a purpose-built store on Orrong Road in 2016.
Throughout 2020 and 2021, the Midvale branch also underwent an extensive transformation with an internal relay and a facelift creating a modern fresh look throughout. Plans are now in place for the Welshpool store to also undergo an upgrade next year.
“The extensive Midvale branch upgrade was completed last year and included all-new fittings, a total new store relay and new counter setup with all products re-merchandised within the 820 square metre store. The store’s entire exterior signage was modernised as well,” he said.
“The larger Welshpool store was purpose-built six years ago and now sits at 600 square metres of showroom attached to a 1,000 square metre warehouse. Due to significant growth over the past three years the team is in the process of relaying the warehouse to ensure the business continues to operate smoothly,” Darren said.
Working alongside HBT
Since joining HBT’s Industrial & Tool Traders (ITT) division in 2014, Darren says the group has played an important role in the development of Rudd Industrial, particularly because ITT saves the company time and money when it comes to sourcing the right supplier for his customer base.
“The Rudd Industrial team pride themselves on being a ‘complete supplier’ and the HBT network plays a significant role in achieving this by guaranteeing we have access to a broad scope of suppliers across every category. The supplier deals ensure we can provide competitive pricing from a larger range of suppliers than is possible as an individual non-member store.”
“Having the HBT group take care of some of the negotiations across a large range of general suppliers reduces the workload of management allowing us to focus on our business. What HBT does with suppliers is a huge asset to our business. It reduces our workload saving us a significant amount of time by negotiating with suppliers and arranging the deals. I also find the HBT conferences of benefit and always come back re-energised with new ideas and potential products and suppliers to expand into our range,” Darren said.
For now, the Rudd Industrial team is looking forward to the next few years and is optimistic about enjoying continuing growth throughout this sector.
“I believe there are many potential avenues for expansion in the years to come, both through retail and also through the ever-increasing reach of our expanding sales team,” Darren said.