HydraMotion: Building a Legacy since 1996

HydraMotion: Building a Legacy since 1996

By Diane M. Calabrese / Published August 2015

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The SideWinder is the legacy product of Hydra-Motion Cleaning, a company founded in October 1996 by Bruce Tassone. The flat surface cleaner shares its name with a rattlesnake, the sidewinder of the U.S. Southwest, a creature that moves across shifting sands by looping its body sideways.

Being nimble—quick and light in movement—is an asset in the engineering world and in nature. It’s also an advantage in strategic planning. HydraMotion has gained from Tassone’s nimble approach since its inception. “I was motivated to found the company with a goal of creating an organization from the ground up,” he says. “It was the creativity of design and assembling the components of a new firm that was both energizing and exciting.”

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Bruce Tassone

HydraMotion Cleaning and Engine Cleaning Technology (ECT) belong to a holding company, Mendit Chemical, which acquired them. The two firms have complementary niches. Products from HydraMotion are targeted at the broader industrial cleaning segment of the industry. ECT products are focused on cleaning industrial gas turbines and aviation jet engines.

Although the product lines of HydraMotion Cleaning and ECT differ, features of their products are shared. Among the unifying characteristics are mechanical nozzle design, fluid dynamics, chemistry—and the associated engineering and manufacturing requirements.

 

Reflections From Employees and Distributors

I have been with ECT and Hydra-Motion, Inc. for more than 30 years. During these years, the company has grown tremendously. This growth is due to our existing products as well as the continuing development of new products. Customer service is also an important key to the success of our company. ECT, Inc. provides our customers with good products and provides delivery service to meet the customers’ expectations.

Cathy Kuehler
Office Administration, HydraMotion

HydraMotion Cleaning employs 12 people and works with more than 30 independent sales agents. It also has multiple distributors across each of its major vertical markets. (See the sidebars for reflections from a few members of the team.)

Team members are deployed along functional groups, such as administration, sales and marketing, manufacturing, and engineering. Yet everyone in a functional group setting is nested in a broader context of expertise about the company.

“Each individual understands the market we serve, products we offer—and, in most cases can address a customer question in real time,” says Tassone. “This allows us to offer exceptional levels of customer service and satisfaction.”

Driven

“Nothing can ever be too clean,” says Tassone. “We are driven to improve our products to clean better, clean more effectively, clean more efficiently, and clean with less effort.” The drive for continuous improvement transcends product lines. “It spans all of our products from flat surface cleaners to jet aviation cleaning chemicals,” says Tassone.

HydraMotion is located in Bridge-port, PA. The setting connects the company to some of the deepest and strongest roots of industry in the nation. Bridgeport lies 18 miles north of Philadelphia, a city where industry and commerce had become strong and example-setting even before the city was fully laid out in 1682.

Today, Philadelphia is a major deep-water port. Endeavors as varied as education and health care, finance, petroleum refining, and food packing and distribution are just a few of the components of the vigor of region.

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Steve Bidlow

In short, Bridgeport is a perfect place—one immersed in a region with a robust history of industry and ingenuity—for building for the long term. “We design our products for product performance, cost of use, and longevity,” says Tassone. “It is not uncommon for us to support clients that have had a surface cleaner in service for 10 years or more.”

HydraMotion capitalizes on the strengths of partners close to home. “We engineer and manufacture all of our products in the United States,” says Tassone. “We have key vendors located throughout the United States, including Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, and of course Pennsylvania. We have also made a conscious effort to support the established brick-and-mortar distributor network in their efforts to compete locally.”

By identifying and working with excellent partners, HydraMotion maintains high standards that it sets for itself. “I think our engineering and technology really set us apart from other firms,” says Tassone. “We have dedicated resources of mechanical engineers and Ph.D. chemists that perform analytic studies and research and development on all of our products.”

Challenges

Competition comes in many forms to all businesses. Some sorts of competition are more difficult than others. “One of the biggest and continuing challenges that we encounter is the import of products that look similar, but are not built to the same quality, engineering standard, or utilizing the same material selection as our products,” says Tassone. Some customers may need help in understanding the significant differences in the look-alike products.

 

Reflections From Employees and Distributors

I’ve worked for ECT for more than 15 years. My responsibility is to ensure we manufacture high-quality, dependable products. Building the highest quality products allows us to satisfy our customers’ needs and is a very rewarding occupation. Team effort has allowed us to successfully grow the business, which shows great pride in our company.

Steve Bidlow
Manufacturing Manager

“We are constantly improving our technology and quality of our products, however this must be translated into benefits for the end user that have quantifiable value,” says Tassone. “So as an organization, we are constantly clarifying our message, features, and benefits throughout the sales channel—be that to a vendor, distributor, and most importantly the end-user customer.”

Getting information to customers about the vigor and capable engineering of products is a current and ongoing challenge. And it is one that is being met.

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Mark Heaton

There are always challenges of one kind or another. There are changes, too. One came when the company was quite young. “One of the biggest changes in HydraMotion occurred in our early stages when ownership changed,” says Tassone. “We took a product idea and radically overhauled the surface cleaner into the Side-Winder that most customers recognize instantly. The risks associated with a new aesthetic, change in fluid flow with a new cover geometry, and major swivel re-design were high.”

The measured risk taking led to reward. “With enough planning and testing, we were able to launch the new concept without major incident, and we have been able to achieve great traction in the market place,” says Tassone.

 

Reflections From Employees and Distributors

As a creative agency, Rabner Graphics has spent the last 30 years working with companies of all sizes, market segments, and years in business. But nothing gives us more satisfaction than being there from the beginning and watching a company grow and succeed. Our relationship with HydraMotion over the last 18 years is just one scenario. From logo design and sales and marketing material to Web development, we have worked hand and hand with the team at HydraMotion to support them as they brought the SideWinder to market. And as HydraMotion continues to grow and further expand their product line and geographic reach, we are proud to be a part of the planning and strategizing that will—if we do our jobs right—put more Side-Winders in more garages for years to come.

Bob Rabner
Rabner Graphics
Princeton, NJ

“The most intriguing product within our line is still the SideWinder flat surface cleaner,” explains Tassone. “Although it is our legacy product, there has been a continued evolution of the brand. We have a number of new products in the development stages and are excited about developing their launch strategies.”

Ties and Technology

Building for the strength and the future demands good, solid links. Such ties are a given. “Everyone within the HydraMotion organization interacts directly with end users and has used our products themselves,” says Tassone. “I cannot think of anyone in our company that has not tried to clean concrete or, in some cases, cleaned a gas turbine or jet engine.” 

In other words, it’s about combining the knowing and the doing. It’s a perfect symmetry for a company growing so near the place where the Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776.

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Cathy Kuehler

“In order to keep pace with the evolving needs, we continually look for ways to improve organizational efficiency or capability with technology,” says Tassone. “By selectively implementing technical innovations, HydraMotion can leverage each individual’s knowledge base more rapidly or in new ways—ways that we had not thought possible before.”

Selective implementation means that method and due diligence precede any change. “We do not use untested concepts or those that would cause unnecessary business disruption,” says Tassone.

 

Reflections From Employees and Distributors

South Florida is a tough market for contract cleaners, due to the ever-present heat and humidity. Mold and mildew and road grime present constant obstacles. We deal with all the major manufacturers of pressure washers, accessories, and general cleaning equipment. Over the years, we’ve found HydraMotion and their SideWinder surface cleaners to be the highest quality. HydraMotion’s quality, support, and customer service are second to none.

Al Grunskis
Industrial Cleaning Equipment and Supply
Fort Lauderdale, FL

The efficiencies realized with technological assists free time for core activities. “When we achieve these efficiencies, each of us spends more time on our functional area, if that’s accounting, engineering, manufacturing, or marketing to enhance or improve the current work flow process,” says Tassone.

“It may sound cliché, but we are strong believers that technology can redefine the business for the better and not just simply change for change’s sake’,” explains Tassone.

Being as busy as he is with the business, Tassone does not get as much time to participate in professional organizations as he would like. Yet he puts a high value on participation.

Management and sales team members do participate to a great extent. “Professional organizations create an independent accountability for our team members, as well as providing a method for us to stay current commercially and technically,” says Tassone.

HydraMotion Cleaning is closing in on two decades. “Most of us have been involved with the originating companies since the mid-‘80s,” says Tassone. “As a company, HydraMotion is looking forward to celebrating our 20th anniversary of becoming private next year. Personally, I am looking forward to another 20 years.”

 

 

Reflections From Employees and Distributors

For many years, Bruce from HydraMotion/ECT tried to get us to become a distributor of his surface cleaner. I don’t know what I was waiting for; after his demonstration back in 2000, I was sold. We now feel that we are selling the best unit in the industry. Hydra-Motion/ECT is the only company that has enough confidence in their surface cleaner to offer a two-year warranty. I can understand why they offer this; normally we do not see the unit come back during the warranty period. After the warranty, on the rare occasions when the unit does need repair, the cost of the kits to repair it are extremely reasonable. Back in 2000 after becoming a distributor, we added one of HydraMotion/ECT surface cleaners to our rental fleet and in 2007, we added another unit. Both units are still being rented. They have been a great stream of revenue and have created many sales. The first time a customer uses this surface cleaner they can see the quality—and knowing the longevity of the unit as a rental builds their confidence. Hydra-Motion/ECT is a win-win for both our company and our customers. For those who have not tried one, I recommend you do so before you buy your next unit.

Steve Hartunian
Equipment Trade Service Company, Inc.
Norwood, PA