40 Years of Delivering Quality Fire Hose & Equipment

Rawhide Fire Hose 40th Anniversary

The year 2015 is a special one for Rawhide Fire Hose. This year we celebrate our 40th anniversary of delivering fire hoses and fire hose products to our customers. In honor of our milestone, we thought we’d let you in on the history of our company.

Rawhide Fire Hose began with Joe Fischelson, who had built up Akron Brass. Joe could clearly see the cyclical pattern of fire hose availability. Much like anything that is manufactured, there is typically either too much or not enough of a particular product—fire hosesbeing no exception. Inspired, Joe devised a company that could smooth out the peaks and valleys of fire hose availability.

Joe also wanted to sell fire hose couplings. To accomplish that, there needed to be fire hoses that needed coupled. He befriended a young fire hose salesman from the former National Fire Hose Corporation, whom he convinced to buy some of his own hoses and maintain an inventory. Joe consigned him some brass and aluminum couplings, and the machinery and equipment to assemble hose configurations.

When Joe would receive calls from various distributors looking for hose assemblies, he passed along the lead to the young hose salesman, Bud Maddox, who would process the orders, pay Joe for the couplings used, and ultimately buy more hose and coupling inventory.

Rawhide Fire Hose Is Born

In 1976, Bud incorporated Rawhide Fire Hose. The name is derived from the “original” water conveyance devices: horse-watering buckets made from leather.

Eventually leather was formed into tubes of sorts so the water could be pumped to the fire. Because the leather would become saturated with water, they would ultimately leak. A natural rubber tube encased in cotton yarn was the next evolution of fire hose. Today, EPDM rubber is used for the inner tube, which is surrounded by polyester spun yarn. So, Rawhide is a natural choice for a fire hose supplier.

Bud became severely ill and after a year-long battle passed away in January 2001. Rawhide carried on, under the guidance of a steering committee comprised of the corporate attorney, insurance agent, bank and trust representative, and a senior employee. The group met monthly to approve expenses, including inventory. Rawhide was failing because inventory was only discussed on a monthly basis and then had to be ordered, which in many cases caused a lack of inventory to fulfill orders. Customers responded and sales were diminishing.

The steering committee decided to sell Rawhide Fire Hose. There were six interested parties who signed confidentiality documents. From that, there were three offers. The board took the three purchase offers and developed an offer-to-sell package. Area entrepreneur Keith Eriksen responded immediately and bought the company in January 2002.

Closing documents indicated an inventory value of about $65,000. Some of that inventory remains on the shelves today, in the form of mostly brass couplings of obsolete bowl size or in the formerly popular pin lug style. Because brass does not degrade, Rawhide Fire Hose maintains those couplings because occasionally someone needs them.

Today, Rawhide Fire Hose has $ 1.5 million in inventory and is positioned in four warehouse locations in order to offer one- or two-day delivery on customer orders. In October 2014, Rawhide moved into a new 20,000 square-foot facility, over twice the size of the buildings they moved from.

The fourth warehouse location was opened in December 2014, which shaved off a day of delivery time for both the East Coast and Florida.

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About The Author: Keith Eriksen

Keith was the president of Rawhide Fire Hose from 2000 thru 2018. He is a former member of the Wooster Township Fire Department, serving with the Wayne County Underwater Search and Rescue unit. He has extensive knowledge of valves and hydraulics from years of experience in the oil and natural gas production business. In addition to being an avid scuba diver with master diver endorsements he is also an instrument rated private pilot, certified for high performance and complex aircraft. He enjoys landscape and gardening work, gourmet cooking, spending time with his (grown) children and traveling with his wife, Vicki.

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