CenArk Controls traces its roots back to 1976 with the creation of Southwest Hydraulics. Originally founded by Lawrence Greenlee, with two employees, the company was focused on serving the hydraulic and pneumatic needs of the agricultural industry in the south central/south western United States.
The focus of the business was and still is service. The original team members spent countless hours traveling and servicing the hydraulics of farmers, gin and feed mill operators. The hours were grueling, but the strategy worked. By 1988, Southwest Hydraulics was a leader is their industry with 48 full time employees.
However, as is common in any industry, the business climate began to change. Farm equipment that was once operated by manual controls, was being replaced with digital systems. GPS systems became common place in field equipment. Production and capacity data was now required by independent operators. In short, the business model had to change.
In 2012, Southwest Hydraulics introduced digital control systems to their customers. This was the next step in the evolution of the industry and Southwest lead the way. Older field equipment was upgraded. New control platforms were introduced, reducing downtime while providing previously unimaginable abilities to track and maintain remote systems.
After only two years, the need for these added capabilities became too large for the original business model and Southwest Controls was born. This division focused on the development and improvement of digital agricultural controls and the expansion into other industries. The strategy worked.
In early 2017 discussions began for a succession plan. Mr. Greenlee states, “I had taken the business as far as I could, and I knew we needed someone to carry it into the future.” The decision was made to hand the daily operations of the business to Greg Shultz, an automation engineer with over thirty years of experience in multiple industries.
“I was a customer of Southwest for years.” Shultz explained, “I was always pleased with how they ran their business. I knew that if I could continue the service tradition and expand it into different industries that both our business and the business of our clients would flourish.” Later that year the plan was implemented and CenArk Controls was formed.
The new division accepted the original role of Southwestern Controls as well as expanded into new industries, including; electronics manufacturing, material handling, product testing, high speed terminations, the industrial internet of things (IIOT), custom software, and custom development.
Immediately strategic partnerships were created to support the customer base. Shultz explains, “We could have added the additional resources to handle the unique challenges that we were encountering, but that would have increased our overhead and the cost to the client without long-term value. Our goal is to solve their needs and we knew there were other individuals and companies that we could rely on for specific areas of expertise. The results have exceeded our expectations.”
When asked about the long-term goals of CenArk Controls, Shultz replied, “Most businesses plan for annual or quarterly goals. We plan long term. We will continue to service our clients’ needs and build our capabilities. A bad quarter doesn’t affect us. We are debt free. This gives us flexibility. When the economy is good we flourish. When the economy is shrinking, we can continue to offer superior value for our clients without the concern of meeting fixed financial requirements. This brings stability to the table. Our goals are long term, and this requires a different way of doing business.”
Today CenArk Controls serves clients in multiple industries on four continents.
“We will not be the largest. We will be the best.”
“A service without long term value is a disservice.”
“We guarantee the outcome. If we fail to meet the client’s expectations, they owe us nothing.”
“Our clients should focus on their business. We find solutions.”
“If our client is not successful, then we are not successful.”
“Our client relationships are long term.”
“If we cannot fulfill the client’s needs, we will find someone who can.”