Power Ignition and Controls Appalachia has been serving the northeastern United States since 2011. Starting out as a joint venture between Equipment and Controls, Inc. and Spartan Controls, PIC-Appalachia now serves as an authorized Murphy distributor in their U.S. territory.
PIC-Appalachia operates in Monessen, PA, with seven employees and four Murphy technicians shared with their parent company, ECI.
We spoke with General Manager Larry Guess and Inside Sales/Application Engineer David Snyder to learn about PIC-Appalachia’s unique solutions within the northeast market.
What unique needs do customers in your area have and how do you solve them?
Larry: We have a big mix of very old horsepower equipment—some of the legacy pipelines that have been around for 25-30 years—and brand new engine compressor systems. We serve a pretty diverse market. We have customers that need parts that haven’t been made for 15 years, and then we have brand new equipment technology that we have to keep up with and make sure we can work on and supply equipment to.
That is also the case with other applications such as tug boats. A lot of these tugs are from the 1950s, and a lot of the technology on these boats has never really been upgraded. It’s a pretty unique need to have really customized solutions that aren’t cookie cutter—solutions that we can’t just take off the shelf and install into a system or boat. That’s where David comes in. He not only offers solutions based on a platform, but offers customized and tailored solutions based on the needs of the end user, whether it’s just one boat or a fleet of tugs.
David: We’re bringing the tug boats out of the very old analog age into the digital age and finding solutions to meet Coast Guard regulations. We’ve actually heard that the Coast Guard has used our systems as an example of what other boats should be implementing.
What is a unique benefit you provide your customers?
Larry: We sell more than just parts. We are a solutions-oriented business. We want to make sure we’re capturing all the needs of the customer, not just an end device or a controller, but what’s really going to make their operations more efficient over time. Whether it’s the monitoring of different devices and alarms, or for controlling engine compressor systems, we’re not just keeping it running, but asking how it can run most efficiently so our customer can be successful.
Why do you tell your customers to use Murphy products?
Larry: If you look at Murphy’s starting point, they were ahead of the curve as far as inventing and creating new ways to do things like the Swichgage ® and engineered solutions. In my mind, they’re a very trusted company, they’ve been around for a very long time and they’ve proven the quality and innovation in their products. They stand behind their products and solutions, and that’s something we can stand behind. That’s what makes me very comfortable with promoting their products in the field.
David: I had an interesting call the other day. A customer called me with a system that was installed in 1971 and it still had the original Murphy gauges on it, and he needed to replace a couple of them. That shows that the product is built for quality and built to last.
What trends do you think are important for 2019?
David: Everyone has a cell phone today. Given the familiarity with touch screens and widgets, if we can provide the same to our customers, it can make their new employees more comfortable with what they’re using. Most people aren’t as accustomed to switches and manual equipment.
Larry: Everyone is used to having apps and portable devices. That’s the age we’re in now, and we must address the needs of new generations entering the workforce. We are trying to adapt equipment and technologies to make it more user-friendly.
What’s your favorite part of working for your company?
Larry: My favorite part is we’re a very innovative company. We’re very flexible and believe in the importance of customized solutions. Our company allows us to have the flexibility to change our approach to meet the needs of our customers. We focus on delivering successful customer outcomes 100% of the time. We have the backing of our management and ownership to do whatever it takes to go after those outcomes to make sure our customers are satisfied.
David: The company treats us great. They seek to provide the best benefits for our employees, and they help us grow professionally while recognizing the importance of family.
We started doing more displays when I went to Larry suggesting that this is something we needed. He said, “Go for it. Go to school, do whatever you need and let’s explore it.” We’re given the opportunity to try new things, and if it fails, well, we step back and try again. This is the kind of corporate culture that enables us to be innovative for our customers.