For over a century, Hankins Surgical Supply Co. has been a hub of major medical manufacturers and supply chains, going well beyond Band-Aids.
With core values and business practices passed down through four generations of family, Hankins Surgical Supply has remained key to medical supply distribution throughout the region. Founded in 1917, the company serves laboratory, dental and medical supply needs in southwest Missouri and parts of Arkansas.
The product catalog has well over a hundred items – everything from tongue depressors to exam gowns and technical equipment, such as urine analyzers. The company is part of a large purchasing group that also extends access to over 10,000 products from manufacturers including Midmark Corp., Bovie Medical Corp. and Welch Allyn/Hillrom.
From its 7,000-square-foot facility at 829 N. Prince Lane, Hankins Surgical Supply primarily sells to independent physicians and community health centers.
“People trust and want to do business with a small, local company. Personal relationships are what we thrive off of,” says Jimmy Hutchison, the company’s fourth-generation co-owner.
According to a 2022 study by MarketsandMarkets, medical supply industry sales are projected to reach $163.5 billion per year by 2027. This year, they’re on pace to reach $138.4 billion.
Though Hankins Surgical Supply operates in such a large space, Hutchison says they do so with a small team of seven employees. He declines to disclose annual revenues but notes the team’s approach is rooted in customer service and client relationships.
“We trust our employees and know they’ll do what they need to do to make business successful,” Hutchison says. He also credits an increase in clinics throughout the area for strong sales.
That’s been the family way ever since the Hutchison family took over Hankins Surgical Supply in the 1920s. Originally owned by who Hutchison just knew as “Mr. and Mrs. Hankins” in 1917, the business transitioned when Mr. Hankins died, and James C. Hutchison bought it along with two doctors in the 1920s.
Jimmy Hutchison took the reins of the business from his father, John, who remains with the company as president having taken over after his grandfather.
John Hutchison has spent years working those customer relationships.
“Jordan Valley Community Health Center, Missouri State University and AIDS Project of the Ozarks are all major partners of ours,” he says.
Each of these organizations has seen growth recently, he adds, noting, “Our growth is solely due to the strength of the independent physician and the community health centers in the area.”
Jordan Valley Community Health Center is one of Hankins Surgical Supply’s largest and steadiest customers.
“Hankins is in the top five of our accounts payable account, and that’s based on our $70 million budget,” says CEO Brooks Miller. “Our relationship goes back to establishing the clinic many years ago. I have worked with the Hutchison family for 20 years. They truly allowed us to get on our feet.”
Hankins Surgical Supply sells supplies and performs deliveries to clients within a 150-mile radius, including northwest Arkansas. John Hutchison says the growing use of community health centers ranging from Ava to Rolla has impacted the business. Some of the clinics they service are Burton Creek Rural Clinic in West Plains and the Compass Health Network throughout the state, as well as a large number of clinics in northwest Arkansas.
“Their willingness to do business with a local company is key,” John Hutchison says.
Company officials say the biggest business challenge of late was undoubtably working through the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The amount of new and substitute products we were bringing in was simply amazing to see,” Jimmy Hutchison says. “We were luckily able to overcome that obstacle and keep our customers happy.”
With challenges can come accomplishments, though, and Hutchison credits the team’s biggest accomplishment as staying consistent for customers throughout the pandemic.
“We were all hands on deck, working overtime to make everyone happy,” said Jimmy Hutchison. “Although it was tough, the sense of achievement and pride we have as a company definitely outweighed the stress of making it all happen.”
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