By Diane M. Calabrese / Published August 2015
The splendor of the Ozark Mountains is reason enough to visit Northwest Arkansas. In the 1880s, though, one community there—Siloam Springs got extra attention and grew as word spread about the medicinal properties of its spring water.
Today, Siloam Springs, which is part of Benton County, is home to approximately 16,000 people. The vibrant community is built around tourism, education, and industry. (The deep attraction of possibly therapeutic water persisted only to the early 1890s.)
The quiet beauty and great vigor of Siloam Springs makes it the perfect setting for a company that has the same attributes: Coils-R-Us. From coils and housings to parts and pressure washer replacement products, the company, which is owned by Melvin Farley, serves customers from a roster of products that reflects the same sort of diversity and strength found in the hardwood species of the Ozarks.
Farley established Coils-R-Us after spending more than 30 years in a family business. “It became obvious that my future was very uncertain,” he says. “So, I did the only thing that I know how to do, and the only thing that I’ve ever done,” he explains, regarding how he developed the focus for his company.
In that straightforward assessment, Farley echoes the well-known artist Thomas Hart Benton, who, although he was born in Missouri, had ties in Arkansas, too; the rivers, people, and industries of both states fascinated him. Benton wrote, “I painted because I liked to do so.”
Knowing what one wants to do and following that path is a great way to get results. Benton’s paintings speak for themselves. So do the excellent outcomes at Coils-R-Us since it had its official launch in 2010.
The core group of employees at Coils-R-Us has worked together for more than a decade. Lacie Gregory, Farley’s daughter, has been ‘working’ with her dad since she was about six years old. She administers all aspects of a one-person office.
Dave Ferguson, the fabrication specialist, and Farley have worked together for 25 years. Cesar Ardon, the lead person in the coil department, has been part of the team for 14 years and Jake Kettner, the shop supervisor, has been part of the team for 11 years.
“We all just work for the company,” says Farley. “And we all do what we all know is right for the company’s success. We are all on the same team from the top to the bottom. And we practice it every day. We don’t just talk about it, we actually do it. All employees have the opportunity to be tied directly to the bottom line through the company’s bonus program. Also, we are unique in the fact that we have the experience to ensure that the customer gets the product that they really need.”
Being part of the team means being ready to help customers seeking expert advice as well as components. “I am fascinated by the number of people that call this phone number because they are at the absolute end of their rope,” says Gregory. “No matter the application, when it comes to making water hot, Melvin Farley, my dad, is one of this industry’s most valuable resources.”
Indeed, the company website states the experience of the company in terms of coils—“over 150,000 coils of experience”—and notes that is “almost a lifetime’s” worth. And for customers that know exactly what they need, the product list available at the website (www.coils-r-us.com) makes it especially easy to locate an item because the list can be filtered by the type of product and by the manufacturer.
The website includes a downloadable spec sheet that a prospective customer can use to help pinpoint the product needed. For example, the spec sheet asks the customer to answer questions not only about brand, model, and configuration (gpm, horizontal or vertical, oil- or gas-fired), but also about the diameter of the housing, the diameter of the coil, and so on.
The business is absolutely built around the idea that the customer will get the product he needs because the team will do whatever it takes to make certain that happens. “The most rewarding thing is being able to give our clients the best quality available in the market,” says Ardon. And once a customer has the products in hand, the customer can be assured there will continue to be a solid tie to the place where they were purchased. “The most rewarding thing for me is being able to stand behind the products we produce,” says Kettner. It’s all part of fulfilling the needs of the customer.
Each person on the team contributes at least 100 percent each day—and often something more. This is a company that takes its own measure by looking at the 110 percent contribution as just part of what it takes on a busy day.
At the end of the day, there is the satisfaction of knowing customers have had their requirements met. There is also the satisfaction that derives from the job accomplished. For instance, for Ferguson, it is the engagement with the process of fabrication. “I really enjoy the challenge of welding stainless material—and it’s a different challenge each day,” he says.
Coils are not exactly taken for granted by those of us end users depending on them. Yet, because they are not conspicuous, we might not think of them as often as we do hoses or wands or any dimension of a pressure washer that we see or touch during every use. “You can’t give a coil away until someone needs it, and then you can’t get it there fast enough,” says Farley.
Even so, coils are a critical component. Consequently, when coils do require attention, being able to turn to a company that knows them as well as most of us know the ever-reliant, essential tools in our box or chest brings a sense of confidence to a customer.
In that context, when Farley considers the list of products his company offers, he does not single out any one as most important. Instead, he says this: “The most intriguing product that Coils-R-Us has to offer is experience.” And he puts a definite emphasis on experience.
That experience is coupled with hard work, of course. “We work our tails off every single day,” says Farley. “And we all plan on coming back tomorrow and doing it again.”
The chance to share ideas and tap into the expertise of industry colleagues is also important to Farley. “I have been a member of CETA since before they called it CETA—actually it was CEMA,” he explains. “I think this involvement is beneficial because once a year, all the decision makers in our industry get together at the same place and at the same time.”
Farley says of Coils-R-Us, “As a company, we strive to do all the right things for all the right reasons. All orders are the same, big or little. And we are very thankful for every opportunity.” There are challenges as there are in any business. “The biggest challenge is keeping the group focused on fighting for the bottom line, in every little step we make,” says Farley.
Working incrementally and determinedly does build to a good end—whether the effort entails the cumulative small steps in business or the successive brush strokes on a canvas. Like the artist Benton, Farley always has the big picture in mind and he works each day to ensure that it is realized in a way that he endorses and his customer appreciates.
One of the most beautiful dimensions of the Ozark region is that it reflects so many facets of American life—agriculture, forestry, recreation, and industry just to name a few. Coils-R-Us is part of it all, not just because of its location, but because ultimately, the products the company produces and sells help to keep endeavors across all sectors of economic activity going at a brisk pace.