Martin Supply Co., an MRO distributor headquartered in Florence, Alabama, recently acquired Marshal Safety Inc., a safety, environmental equipment and services company serving Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky and Tennessee. Training opportunities were a key part of the deal, which took effect on April 1.
Martin Supply has a fulltime, OSHA-licensed trainer, and Marshal Safety has a training center in Evansville, Indiana. “This service will bring more value to their customers and will help us better utilize the training facility,” says David Ruggles, president of Martin Supply. Marshal Safety has an exceptional reputation and track record in the safety industry, he adds.
Ruggles found three factors unique to Marshal Safety that were appealing: online compliance training, fall protection and design training, and a customized footwear program. “Marshal was much more in-depth on those three service offerings,” he says.
While Martin Supply already had safety products in its business portfolio before the acquisition, opportunities to expand the company’s line of products and services were another important driver of the deal.
Charles Hall, president of Marshal Safety, says, “Now we can offer an expanded line of safety products and services, allowing us to serve our existing and new customers even better. Plus, both companies share a passion for safety, so to us, it’s a great fit.”
The two companies had almost no overlap in geography and customer base. The acquisition allows Martin Supply to reach new customers and possibly look for more acquisitions in the Midwest in the future.
“Marshal’s exceptional reputation and history in the safety industry coupled with their location in the Midwest is what attracted us to this opportunity,” says Ruggles. “They definitely embrace and empower those core values of customer focus and entrepreneurial spirit. That told us they would be a good cultural fit.”
Ruggles sees possibilities for organic business growth, as well as growth through acquisitions and innovative partnerships with customers. “We live in a global society now. In our global competitive landscape, size matters,” he says. “We are competing against global companies. Our ability to do that depends on our ability to be a certain size. We also need to be able to serve customers throughout the United States. Geography cannot be a limitation.”
Celebrating 85 years
Ruggles is part of the third generation in his family to own Martin Supply, which has been in business for 85 years. Now it has more than 300 employees, after adding seven full-time workers from Marshal Safety. It also acquired Ameritool in 2017, Ziegler Tools in 2012, Tool Specialty in 2005 and Townsend Supply and M&W Supply in 1997.
Martin offers a variety of products and services in industrial, integrated supply, fastening and safety. This includes cutting tools and abrasives, hand and power tools, material handling equipment, pumps and compressors, paints, lubricants and adhesives, electrical products, motors and drivers, fasteners and safety equipment. Martin’s customers include small machine shops and large manufacturers.