Steve Felts will concede his business isn’t glamorous, but that doesn’t lessen the importance of bearings — try getting along without them some time.
“A lot of people don’t really know what the stuff is that we sell, but what we stock is used everywhere,” Felts said. “Bearings are in cars, factory equipment and machines that people use every day. People don’t really think about them that much, but what we sell is very important. Without bearings, lubricants and things like that, machines and power engines wouldn’t work.”
Felts is one of four co-owners of Idaho Falls-based Bearing and Industrial Sales Inc., 625 Lindsay Blvd. He owns the business along with his brother, Clint Felts, and Doug and Dave Bingham.
The company opened more than 40 years ago. It was started by Tom Felts and Ron Bingham. Today, the business is run by the second generation of Felts and Binghams.
“My dad worked at a bearing company in Utah. He came up here to work during the building of the Palisades Dam and saw an opening for a business. He realized there were a lot of farmers and people who needed a bearing supply shop, but there really wasn’t anywhere close for them to get supplies from.”
Felts does business with potato operations and farmers in eastern Idaho, as well as serving general customers. In addition to ball and roller bearings, Felts sells industrial hoses, used in air conditioners, as well as conveyor gears and belts.
For Felts, one of the best parts of his job is helping customers solve problems.
“When people come in, they’re usually not too happy,” Felts said. “Something is broken or isn’t working right. It’s a good feeling to be able to have what they need and send them away happy.”
It’s not unusual, Felts said, for farmers to come to the store after an equipment breakdown, needing a quick fix.
“We have a pretty large stock on hand,” Felts said. “Most of the time when farmers or someone comes in needing something to fix their machines, we have it on hand. If we don’t, we can order it in within a day or two.”
Don Martin has been a Bearing and Industrial Sales customer for several years.
“It’s not too often that I have to come here,” Martin said. “I have a shop at my house where I do some woodworking and things like that. Every time I’ve come in, they’ve always had what I needed.”
Felts brother, Clint, said he tries to incorporate a small-town business feel with customers.
“I think it’s important to make people feel like we care,” he said. “We are the only place in town that sells bearings and industrial supplies that is locally owned. There are other businesses in town, but they are nationally owned corporations. I think people like coming to a local business.”
And business has been good, he said.
“We enjoy being in business and helping people out,” Clint Felts said. “We’ve been here for two generations. We know what it takes to run the business and to keep our customers happy.”
Nathan Davis can be reached at 542-6762.