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Business expanding new concept in Chicago area

Ken Adair | Supplied photo

Ken Adair | Supplied photo

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Updated: April 13, 2014 6:42AM



Ken Adair, of Homer Glen, knew he was taking a risk when he invested in a franchise startup business repairing hydraulic hoses — but it’s one that paid off.

Adair had been a broker in the grain industry working at the Chicago Board of Trade for 18 years until the mid-1990s. He saw, however, that computers were beginning to make his job more and more obsolete.

“Technology was taking over,” Adair said. “I figured I’d better do something different.”

His brother knew a businessman who was looking to bring a service that had been successful in Australia and Europe to the United States.

That business, called Pirtek, offers mobile repair service for hydraulic hoses used in construction equipment. The hoses, which are prone to breaking down, can be repaired on site by Pirtek.

Traditionally, a construction engineer would take the damaged part to a service center, but Adair said Pirtek can help save hours of time from a construction job, such as road repair.

“Nobody was doing this in the U.S.,” Adair said.

Adair, now 57, opened his first location in Elk Grove Village in 1998 and since has opened locations in South Holland and in Chicago, accumulating 16 vans and more than 30 employees.

He said one challenge in the business is convincing people in the marketplace that they need this service after becoming used to taking the hose to a repair center themselves.

Adair said another challenge is finding good employees.

“Finding good people is always a challenge for any business,” Adair said.

He began his franchise with no knowledge about hydraulic hose systems, but learned a lot on the job, read books and listened to tapes about the field.

Adair’s equipment and most of what he needed to start up was provided by Pirtek.

Morgan Arundel, president of Pirtek USA, said the company’s looking for more franchisees in the Chicago area.

Hydraulic hoses are used in snowplows, and Arundel said the highest amount of business in Minneapolis for Pirtek usually comes in January.



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