Made in SRQ

Made in SRQ: Sun Hydraulics Counterbalance Valves

Precision Sarasota engineering.

By Cooper Levey-Baker March 28, 2018 Published in the April 2018 issue of Sarasota Magazine

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Utility trucks use Sun counterbalance valves to keep lift platforms stable during power line repairs.

Sun Hydraulics is one of the region’s largest employers and one of our few publicly traded companies. Founded in Sarasota in 1970 by engineer Bob Koski, the company manufactures screw-in hydraulic valves, manifolds and other industrial products. They might not sound sexy, but try living without them. Hydraulic valves are used to help push, pull, lift and lower. They’re found in everything from airline baggage conveyor belts to fire trucks to harvesters to FPL utility trucks.

The company’s factory (one of several around the world) is located on Tallevast Road in southern Manatee County. One of the company’s signature products is its unique counterbalance valves—carefully designed connectors that control the pressure inside a cylinder to safely raise, lower and hold heavy loads. The company also has a signature culture. 

No formal hierarchy or private offices exist, a structure so intriguing it was studied by Harvard Business School.  

1972 Year Sun first turned a profit. (The company has been profitable every year since.)

$342.8 million Sun’s total net sales in 2017 

$136.5 million Sun’s gross profit in 2017

51% Portion of Sun sales in the Americas

29% Portion of sales in Europe, Africa and the Middle East

20% Portion of sales in Asia and around the Pacific Ocean

Besides Sarasota, Sun has offices and factories in Coventry, England; Erkelenz, Germany; Incheon, Korea; Shanghai, China; and Bangalore, India

Sun once shipped counterbalance valves free of charge to a U.S. Navy ship in Bahrain because regular Navy procurement was estimated to take nine months, which would have kept the ship from its regular patrols.

The orange rings on the company’s valves were created to match the Sun logo. The color also makes it easy to spot possible assembly errors.

900 Number of employees

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