Crawford Supply Company
Founded in 1986 by Cecil and Brenda Crawford, Crawford Supply Company has found success serving both the outdoor home living market and the oilfield industry. Based in Plainville, Kansas, the family-owned and -operated company serves customers across the Midwest and with a unique slate of products and services for both oilfields and backyards.
“Our story is unique in terms of where we started and where we are going,” says Courtney Brunswig, marketing manager at Crawford. With 25 years of experience in the oilfield industry, Cecil Crawford originally founded Crawford Supply as an oilfield supply company with just two employees.
Stocking nearly 6,000 items for use on oilfield projects of all sizes, Crawford Supply now employs 50 people and its inventory includes casing and tubing, lubricants, valves, tanks, painting and coating supplies as well as environmental remediation services to oilfield clients in Kansas and Southern Nebraska from its locations in Plainville, Hill City and Hays as well as McCook and Benkleman, Nebraska.
The company began to diversify into the outdoor home supply market in 1992 when Cecil tasted meat grilled on a Traeger wood pellet grill for the first time at a friend’s barbecue. “After that he was so hooked he tried to find out how they could start selling Traeger Grills as a dealer,” says Brunswig.
Traeger Grills set themselves apart from traditional gas and charcoal grills in four basic ways: pellets that come in a variety of flavored wood types, from hickory to pecan; superior temperature control; air induction to ensure that pellets burn evenly and efficiently; and a grease management system that prevents flare-ups and ruined meals.
At first, Cecil and his son Scott, now president of Crawford, grew Traeger’s reputation by word-of-mouth — literally. “They were loading into the back of a pickup truck and doing sales calls that way, but anyone who tasted the food and had a retail store were very interested in carrying the grill,” she says.
Crawford became a Traeger distributor in 1993 and the rest is history; the company’s dealer network now stretches across 11 states and over 1,000 dealers from New Mexico to Arkansas, down into Louisiana and up into North Dakota. Crawford serves these markets from three centrally located Traeger warehouses in Hay, Kansas, Lenexa, Kansas, and Englewood, Colorado.
New name, same quality
As Crawford approaches its 30-year anniversary in April 2016, the company has decided to formally separate the outdoor home supply and grill side of the business into a new entity called Crawford Outdoor, which specializes in grills, barbecue accessories, spices and sauces, fire tables, heaters and coolers.
The expansion of the outdoor home supply side of the business came in reaction to positive feedback from dealers, according to Brunswig. “A lot of our dealers appreciate our customer service and how reliable we are on delivery, so they started asking if we could carry anything else for them,” she says.
Having the exclusive distribution rights to an industry-leading product like the Traeger wood pellet grill was also a major selling point when it came to attracting new customers. “We had a lot of barbecue accessory-type lines come to us and say ‘hey, can you get us in the door?’ We’ve just been brought a lot of different products so we kept growing that line,” says Brunswig.
Crawford Supply serves a wide variety of customers on the outdoor home supply side, including seed, furniture, appliance and hardware stores.
On the oilfield side of the business, Crawford added a CeRam-Kote division back in 2010, allowing the company to coat tubes and other oilfield equipment with a thin, ceramic epoxy spray that provides superior chemical resistance and corrosion protection. “We can now apply CeRam-Kote to parts ourselves, which makes us stand out on that side,” says Brunswig. In addition to being a CeRam-Kote dealer, Crawford is also a Harbison-Fisher and Norris dealer.
As Crawford Supply begins to split into two distinct divisions, Brunswig assures that it will remain strong in both the oilfield and outdoor home goods fields. “It’s still going to be everything that it has been, but we are trying to differentiate between the two,” she says. “When you walk into the Hays warehouse you can turn and go to oilfield supply on one side and outdoor home goods on the other — that is a literal picture of what our company is.”
Heating up and keeping cool
There are some new products on the horizon for the Crawford Outdoor side of the business, including an in-house brand of propane fire tables. “What a lot of people like about Traeger Grills are the ease and the convenience and the types of fire tables we’re doing are right along those same lines,” she says.
Crawford Outdoor also recently became a distributor for Bison coolers, a domestically-made ice chest that is built to professional specs and boasts a fiveday cooling span. “There is a lot of interest anytime someone can get a made-in-America product, so we tested them and decided it was something dealers might be interested in,” says Brunswig.
The company has also started to work with Saber Grills, which produces an innovative new grill/refrigerator hybrid on wheels that can be carted around a backyard barbecue. “It’s an exciting new product,” she says.
After its success with Traeger, Crawford’s reputation in the outdoor home supply industry will ensure that vendors keep approaching the team with new, innovative products. “Hopefully people with exciting new products and ideas will keep bringing them to us,” notes Brunswig. “It’s always an ongoing process of decided what we’re going to carry into the future.”
While the oilfield industry has begun to falter due to historically low oil prices, Brunswig is confident that the recently spun-off outdoor home supply side of the business will ensure Crawford Supply Company’s reputation as a leader in both the oilfield and outdoor home supply industries in Kansas, Nebraska, and beyond.
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