Horizon Spa & Pool Parts continues facility innovations
By Keith Loria
While Horizon Spa & Pool Parts, based in Tucson, Arizona, might not get any buzz for being flashy, almost everyone in the industry does business with it. Since 1992, the company has distributed aftermarket parts to hot tub and swimming pool technicians and service, repair, construction and retail companies.
With 25 years of experience, Horizon continues to innovate and look for ways to positively impact its customers. Recently, it added a new box-making machine to its warehouse designed to lower shipping costs, minimize damage and increase sustainability.
“The freight companies — specifically UPS and FedEx — over the years have started going to dimensional weight, so you can’t have a huge box with a small part in it because now you’re paying for the dimension of the box,” says Ralph Raub, president of the company. “We ship all over the U.S., every state, every day, so shipping became a real bugaboo with how much it cost our customers to get the stuff.”
After exploring its options, Horizon turned to Packsize, a Salt Lake City, Utah–based company, which allowed it to look at an order and perfectly retrofit a box.
“We had to measure and weigh everything in the warehouse, so when the order comes down, the computer says the dimensions of the box you need, and the machine makes the box, so we have very little dunnage,” Raub says. “Things fit in snuggly, it causes less damage, and we’ve been able to reduce the shipping cost to our customers.”
The machine also allows Horizon to do more customization. Historically, it experienced a large amount of motor damage because of the way some motor manufacturers packaged the pieces. And by the time Horizon sent it out across the country again, it was damaged.
“We do custom inserts, and the box machine does that for us,” Raub says. “We designed our own [insert] inside the box so we minimize the damage, and that’s worked out really well. We’ve reduced that damage down to almost nothing.”
The company is now working with some manufacturers that ship to them, trying to reduce air space and dunnage. Many are starting to respond and create packaging more in line with the merchandise being shipped.
“Sustainability is important to us,” Raub says. “[We’ll continue to downsize] and work with the manufacturers to make that happen.”
Staying true to its earth-friendly philosophy, Horizon operates a paperless warehouse, with everything done by scanners. Even in the receiving process, everything is done with barcodes.
“We bag and tag all of our parts,” Raub says. “The guy in the field, when he gets an o-ring, it’s usually in a plastic bag so he doesn’t need to worry about it getting dirty. We’ve catalogued all our o-rings so a retail customer knows what it fits and minimize their actual inventory.”
Raub has been in the industry since 1976. He originally owned a retail store but found he didn’t like going to a customer’s home and telling them they needed parts, then ordering and enduring long waits until delivery.
“I began to stockpile parts and inventory them, and found over the years that more and more people seemed to need what I needed,” he says. “I put together a business and started selling parts, and it’s been growing ever since.”
What started as a one-man operation in a tin shed has grown to more than 50 employees in a 26,000-square-foot warehouse on 3.5 acres.
The company has also done what Raub calls “partsology,” a method of identifying parts using attributes and measurements the company has placed in its database, allowing customers to correctly identify most parts quickly and make the sale.