It doesn’t take long working with and around cranes to run into a Lube-A-Boom product. Founded in 2002 by Harley and Marilyn Wilson, Lube-A-Boom is one of those “better mousetrap” success stories.
Harley Wilson had worked for Grove Manufacturing, now a part of Manitowoc Cranes, for many years. He was responsible for crane maintenance, and through the years he realized that none of the lubrication products available prevented boom chatter or extended lubrication intervals. So after retiring, he focused in on creating the original Lube-A-Boom formula. Once he had the product to his specifications, he started selling his grease formula to crane companies.
Jo Roberts went to work for Lube-A-Boom shortly after the company was founded. She had previously worked for a petroleum company, and she was somewhat familiar with the product that Wilson was selling.
“Harley quickly became my good friend and mentor, and he taught me all he knew about equipment maintenance and the formula he developed for the original Lube-A-Boom grease,” said Roberts, who is now president of the company. “From there, we began developing new products together and expanding from the original Lube-A-Boom grease.”
Today Lube-A-Boom is a thriving, well-known business in the crane and rigging industry. It continues to expand its product line and distribution network, and it recently opened a second warehouse.
“But we continue to stick to our core values and do our best to provide excellent customer service and support to our Lube-A-Boom dealers,” she said. “The daily operations continue to be a challenge but a challenge I greatly enjoy as we grow and add more products, employees and dealers.”
I met the Wilsons and Roberts at ConExpo shortly after I became editor of ACT. Roberts was manning the Lube-A-Boom booth at ConExpo the last time I saw her, shortly after becoming the successor to the Wilsons.
I have had Roberts on my list for this article for a good while. When I approached her about it, she was reluctant, mainly because she doesn’t like to be in the spotlight. I get that. But she finally acquiesced.
With the Q&A articles in ACT, I often learn something new about the person we feature, and such is the case with Roberts. Not only is she a keen businesswoman in the crane and rigging industry, she’s also an artist.
In her spare time, she creates mixed media art that includes painting (acrylics and water color), metal work, leather journals, screen printing and woodworking.
“My dad was a woodworker, and he taught me most everything I know when it comes to that craft,” she said. “I mostly work on a lathe and turn wood into bowls, pens and ornaments. Small stuff.”
But she said painting is her second love.
“Most everything I paint has some sort of seaside element to it,” she said. “I guess my inner-self is trying to tell me to take a vacation.”
When she talks about Lube-A-Boom, you can tell that Jo Roberts loves her job and the company. I think you will find her answers to my questions compelling and heartfelt.
What do you enjoy about Lube-A-Boom and the industries it serves?
I enjoy working with our dealers a great deal. We pride ourselves on working closely with our dealers and supporting our dealers as much as we can. I have great working relationships with many of the folks in the parts departments across the country, and I love hearing their feedback on our products. I also enjoy developing new products. It is always fun to test a new product and to promote it and see how that product ultimately helps people in the industry. Last but not least, Lube-A-Boom is truly a family owned and operated company, and it is enjoyable to work with family and grow the business together.
Have you ever had issues working in a male-dominated industry?
Not really. I have had a great support system within our dealer network who are always ready to lend a helping hand, answer a technical question or offer advice. I have found the construction, heavy equipment community to be very welcoming.
New product development has long been a strength of Lube-A-Boom. How do you approach product development and determine what customers need?
Developing new products is a very strategic and thoughtful process. We identify needs in the market by talking with our dealers, who are the “boots on the ground” to maintenance issues experienced in the field and in the shop. When we speak to dealers and hear common issues, we look to the source of that issue and begin brainstorming what type of product would help alleviate that particular issue. From there, we work with our team and our vendors to develop a specially formulated product. We test the new product in-house first, and when we feel it is working to our standards, we provide samples to a few dealers to test and give us feedback. After that, we make adjustments as necessary until it is working like we envisioned it, and then launch the product for sale.
What is your most popular product?
Our original Lube-A-Boom grease in the aerosol form, part number 010105. This particular product is so popular because it is our original formula that has been aerosolized for quick, easy and efficient application.
Lube-A-Boom uses a dealer network for distribution of its products. Why does this model work for getting your products to the market?
Our dealer network is the hallmark of Lube-A-Boom. Not only do our dealers give us feedback on our products, but they assist in new product development.
How do you address competition for products like Lube-A-Boom? What distinguishes the company in the markets it serves?
There is competition in every market, but we tend to focus on our own products and business model rather than dwelling on beating the competition. We have found that if we work hard and stay focused on developing quality lubricants, the products speak for themselves. We firmly believe that our family of lubrication products are the best on the market and will extend the life of equipment and extend the routine maintenance intervals for equipment. Lube-A-Boom is always looking to develop new products and we do our best to understand maintenance stress points in the industry that we could help alleviate.
What is your business philosophy?
Work hard, provide excellent customer service and always be innovating.
What do you do when you are not working?
When I’m not working, I enjoy spending time in my art studio, my garden and with my family.