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A tour of Hydraflow offers a look at one family’s legacy and challenges ahead – Orange County Register

As I’ve shared in previous columns, much of my time is dedicated to counseling family businesses, those closely held manufacturers and logistics providers that form the backbone of our local economies.

Often, my involvement is sparked by pivotal moments, such as a succession plan or the acquisition of a competitor. On the flip side, I’ve witnessed family-owned companies being acquired by private equity groups on buying sprees, seeking to acquire, fix, and flip. In nearly every scenario, a common thread emerges – a commercial real estate requirement, most frequently the need to dispose of excess facilities.

Recently, I had the privilege of gaining insights from a family-owned and operated manufacturing company right here in Orange County.

While no major transition is currently underway at Hydraflow, I believe that sitting down with a family deeply entrenched in our local business landscape would offer valuable perspectives.

Thanks to Pat Soldano of Family Enterprise USA, an advocacy group championing family businesses, I had the opportunity to connect with the leadership team at Hydraflow – Cindy Ayloush, CEO and daughter of the founder, and her children, Sasha and Ramsey.

Perched atop a hill in Fullerton, Hydraflow occupies a 174,000-square-foot facility on what was once part of the vast Hughes Aerospace campus.

Designed by Ware Malcolm, another stalwart in our county’s business community, and constructed by Snyder Langston in the early 2000s, this facility is a testament to Hydraflow’s commitment to growth and innovation.

Having toured countless manufacturing plants, I was struck by the impeccable cleanliness and efficiency of the layout. However, what truly stood out was the palpable sense of family permeating the atmosphere, evident not only in their operations but also in the abundance of company swag proudly worn by the staff.

Tragically, Cindy’s dad and founder of Hydraflow, Leonard Edward (Len) Ullrich passed away shortly after the move on Feb. 7, 2003. He had faithfully shepherded the company through five decades, weathering various challenges and multiple relocations across east Los Angeles County.

I’m certain, Len would be blushing with pride if he could witness his legacy.

Ullrich laid the foundation for Hydraflow’s journey in 1961 when it was a mere two-employee operation working out of a converted two-car garage in Maywood. Back then, it bore the name Hydraflow Supply and began as an industrial hose distributor.

Len’s vision extended beyond mere distribution, as he aspired to become a designer and manufacturer. With prudent foresight, he chose to slowly nurture his customer base while maintaining the distributorship.

The pivotal shift toward design and manufacturing took place in 1968, and in 1970, Hydraflow expanded to a larger facility in the City of Commerce. Over the years, their business extended its reach into both military and commercial aircraft sectors. The 1970s marked a significant turning point, with Hydraflow finding its niche in low-pressure fluid transfer products. Through the 80s and 90s, the company continued its steady growth trajectory.

According to Cindy, from its inception, Hydraflow has been grounded in the values that Len held dear – customer service, hard work, frugality, family and ethics. These family values formed the bedrock of the company’s culture and have continued to guide its growth. Today, with over 250 employees, Hydraflow is renowned for its expertise in designing and fabricating low-pressure fluid transfer components tailored for aerospace and high-technology applications.

But as with any long-standing family business, Hydraflow faces its share of challenges. Material shortages, compliance and regulatory complexities, finding and maintaining quality employees, and generational pass-throughs are just a few of the hurdles they navigate.

These challenges reflect the evolving landscape that family-owned businesses navigate. However, Hydraflow’s ability to address and adapt to these challenges showcases its resilience and adaptability. They remain dedicated to preserving their family legacy while thriving in a competitive business environment.

Hydraflow’s journey is a testament to the enduring spirit of family-owned businesses. Their story reflects the values and vision of their founder, the dedication of their leadership, and the commitment to serving their customers and community. As we celebrate the success of companies like Hydraflow, we are reminded of the strength and innovation that family-owned businesses bring to our local economies.

Allen Buchanan is a principal and commercial real estate broker at Lee & Associates, Orange. He can be reached at 714.564.7104 or abuchanan@lee-associates.com.

https://www.ocregister.com/2023/11/11/a-tour-of-hydraflow-offers-a-look-at-one-familys-legacy-and-challenges-ahead/ A tour of Hydraflow offers a look at one family’s legacy and challenges ahead – Orange County Register

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