It started with getting people the equipment they need to successfully complete a task and, seventy years later, that’s still what the company Frank Deaver established is all about.
“He had an inclination to find the right tool for the job,” said Deaver’s granddaughter Melissa Deaver-Rivera. She’s the current president and majority owner of Frank’s Supply Company Inc., the company Deaver founded.
The Albuquerque-based business sells, rents and repairs construction equipment and tools. With four stores in New Mexico and one in Texas, it has about 1,000 different products available for rent and 50,000 inventory items for purchase, Deaver-Rivera said.
The business began when Frank Deaver was a 1950s sheet metal worker who made a point of picking up a few duplicates of whatever tool he needed so he could sell them to his fellow coworkers, Deaver-Rivera told the Albuquerque Journal. His side hustle grew and, in 1953, the business was incorporated. Equipment rental was added to the company soon after. In recent decades, Frank’s Supply Company has also become the supplier of all tools and equipment for Los Alamos National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories and the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in Carlsbad, said Rick Lamb, marketing manager and 32-year employee of the company.
A willingness to expand into different arenas as opportunities arise and not confine themselves to a rigid business plan has been essential to the company’s growth, Deaver-Rivera said.
“Flexibility,” she said, “is a big key for what we do and our growth.”
An open mindset runs throughout the company, according to Lamb. Customer service representatives, for example, are instructed to never say no but, instead, to say “let me look into it” or “let me do a little research and get back to you.”
“Nine times out of 10, with all of the experience we have around here, somebody knows something about that product around here,” Lamb said. “They’ll figure out what the customer wants and how to get it to them.”
To celebrate its 70th anniversary, Frank’s Supply Company Inc. held an awards-show-style gala on April 1 and a customer appreciation event at its Albuquerque location on May 4. An open house at the Farmington location is scheduled for June 8.
What makes running Frank Supply Company challenging in 2023?
Deaver-Rivera: “Getting enough people, number one.”
Was it always like that?
Deaver-Rivera: “It’s been like that for a long time, but it gets worse all the time.”
Lamb: “It’s become more difficult since COVID, there’s no doubt about it — finding good quality people that are willing to work hard. We can train, but we got to find people that are good. Finding good, responsible people can be challenging at times.”
How do you determine that someone has a good work ethic?
Deaver-Rivera: “You look at their job history and say, ‘OK, how did they do in their last couple of jobs?’ You get somebody’s resume and they’ve had eight jobs in 10 years — well, that’s a question mark. If they’re 22 years old and it has a lot of activities they did in college or high school, well you can figure they’re probably pretty busy. They’re probably a hard worker. Like sports — to excel in sports, that requires discipline and hard work.”
Lamb: “I think our most successful people are ex-military and people that were involved in sports. Because of their use of discipline. We’d hire somebody else if they have the experience, but that’s one of the things, at least, you look at. Did they do things that take discipline during their life?”
What are the challenges and rewards working with family?
Deaver-Rivera: “Well, I learned one thing a number of years ago, about family or really anybody, friends. Don’t hire somebody you’re not willing to fire.”
Deaver-Rivera: “It’s important that you have the leadership to make decisions based on people’s performance versus their relationship with you.”
So what’s next for the business?
Deaver-Rivera: “Well, we’re opening the store in Santa Fe, the next thing on our horizon. We’re implementing new software later this year also.”
Lamb: “And we’re going to start an e-commerce business. It’s in the developmental stage. We’re real close. We have always had an e-commerce site, but it was a closed site for only AR (accounts receivable) customers. Now we’re just about ready to open it to John Q. Public, and so anybody can start ordering products from us. … It’s a new site being developed, similar to sites that you would go onto like a Home Depot, Lowe’s or whatnot.”
Why is now the right time to expand to Sante Fe?
Deaver-Rivera: “Because our market is growing so much, and our revenue is increasing so much. More and more equipment, more and more demand. We are sending trucks north and south, several a day, every day. So if we have a location in Santa Fe, that’ll give us some relief — being able to service the northern part of the state from Santa Fe instead of from Albuquerque. We’ll have 3 1/2 acres there with the full service, sales, rental and service of construction equipment and be able to send stuff from Santa Fe to Las Vegas, New Mexico, to Raton, to Espanola easier than coming from Albuquerque. That’ll take some relief off of the Albuquerque store, as well.”
Looking back at the company’s history, what makes you proud?
Deaver-Rivera: “I guess I’m really proud of how this team that we have right now has grown the business over the years. … We have a lot of people who have just put their whole life and soul into making this place successful and growing it. And it’s worked. It’s panned out. You can work really hard at something, it doesn’t always work out. But in this case, everybody’s put in a lot of effort and get along with each other and it’s worked out. Everybody’s had a good life, that’s been here for quite a while, and I think that makes me proud.”
Business Outlook’s Spotlight features interviews with leaders of well-established New Mexico businesses about the practices that have allowed them to weather ups and downs. Send suggestions of locally owned businesses that have been in existence for at least a decade and that employ at least 20 people to email@example.com for consideration.