By: Julie M. Good, Contributing Writer
For over a century, Hankins Surgical Supply Co. has become the center of major medical manufacturers and supply chains, which goes beyond Band-Aids.
With core values and business practices passed down through four generations of the family, Hankins Surgical Supply remains a key medical supply distributor throughout the region. Founded in 1917, the company serves the laboratory, dental and medical supply needs of southwest Missouri and parts of Arkansas.
The product catalog has more than a hundred items – everything from tongue depressors to examination clothes and technical equipment, such as urine analyzers. The company is part of a large purchasing group that also provides access to more than 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 sells primarily 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 on,” said Jimmy Hutchison, the company’s fourth-generation owner.
According to a 2022 study by MarketsandMarkets, sales in the medical supply industry are projected to reach $163.5 billion annually by 2027. This year, they are on pace to reach $138.4 billion.
Although Hankins Surgical Supply operates in such a large space, Hutchison said they do so with a small team of seven employees. He declined to disclose annual revenues but noted that the team’s approach is rooted in customer service and client relationships.
“We trust our employees and know they will do what they need to do to make the business successful,” Hutchison said. He also credits the increase in clinics across the area for strong sales.
That’s been the family way since the Hutchison family took over Hankins Surgical Supply in the 1920s. Originally owned by what Hutchison knew only as “Mr. and Mrs. Hankins” in 1917, the business moved when Mr. Hankins died, and James C. Hutchison bought it with two doctors in the 1920s.
Jimmy Hutchison took the reins of the business from his father, John, who remained with the company as president succeeding his grandfather.
John Hutchison has spent years working in customer relations.
“Jordan Valley Community Health Center, Missouri State University and Ozarks AIDS Project are all major partners with us,” he said.
Each of these organizations has seen growth recently, he added, saying, “Our growth is only 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 most consistent customers.
“Hankins is in the top five of our accounts payable, and that’s based on our $70 million budget,” said CEO Brooks Miller. “Our relationship goes back to the establishment of the clinic many years ago. I worked with the Hutchison family for 20 years. They really allowed us to stand up.”
Arrival in the region
Hankins Surgical Supply sells supplies and makes deliveries to clients within a 150 mile radius, including northwest Arkansas. John Hutchison said the growing use of community health centers from Ava to Rolla is affecting business. Some of the clinics they serve are Burton Creek Rural Clinic in West Plains and the Compass Health Network across the state, as well as several clinics in northwest Arkansas.
“Their willingness to do business with a local company is significant,” John Hutchison said.
Company officials say the biggest business challenge of late is undoubtedly working through the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The number of new and replacement products we carry is amazing to see,” said Jimmy Hutchison. “We’re fortunate to have overcome that hurdle and kept our customers happy.”
With challenges can come accomplishments, however, and Hutchison credits the team’s biggest accomplishment as staying consistent for customers throughout the pandemic.
“We’re all hands on deck, working overtime to make everyone happy,” Jimmy Hutchison said. “Even though it’s tough, the sense of accomplishment and pride we have as a company definitely outweighs the stress of making it all happen.”