Mike Miazga 2014-04-05 20:15:44
Embassy Group enjoys record 2013 The Embassy buying group took a huge step forward this past year.Speaking to Supply House Times at the Geneva, Ill.-based company's 23rd annual spring meeting at the JW Marriott Hill Country Resort & Spa in San Antonio, President Mike Lepley reported the group enjoyed a banner 2013. "It was a record year for the organization on both the plumbing and HVAC sides of the business," he said. "We had an improvement in the economy and we added some additional membership, but the success mainly was due to the economy and Embassy members' strengths in their respective markets." New Embassy members include Seattlebased Keller Supply Co., Hartford, Conn.-based Bell/Simons Companies, Anaheim, Calif.- based Todd Pipe & Supply and Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Williams Distributing Co. Embassy also debuted a waterworks division within the buying group on Jan. 1. "Our waterworks vertical has been well-received," Lepley noted. "This is the first time we've had vendor-member conferences for waterworks. We have 19 members here and 15 vendors participating. Adding a waterworks vertical makes sense. We purchased a lot of waterworks products and we have members that are large enough and have their own waterworks divisions.We're looking to grow our business and this was an opportunity to help that growth. It's an industry need. Right now there are very few alternatives in the marketplace." Lepley said Embassy continues to thrive because of the group's close-knit culture. "It's a collegial group," he said. "We only have 65 total members. It creates the ability to have a lot of conversations and it fosters more camaraderie with fewer members. The size coupled with a very simple and transparent model provides the independent a lot of flexibility and outstanding financial returns." This year's Embassy meeting once again featured the group's popular format where each member is guaranteed a meeting with every vendor in attendance. Plenty of social activities, including a Texas-themed dinner and concert by country music performer Jody Jenkins and his band, also were on the schedule. "It's a first-class event that has been going on since the very beginning," Lepley said. "It's a working show. As a member, you will meet every vendor. From a vendor's standpoint, with the plumbing, HVAC and waterworks groups, you could have up to 90 meetings in a four-day period. We require principals to be here. Typically, manufacturers are sitting in front of key decision makers." Milwaukee Valve's Herschel Seder dies Herschel Seder, one of the true innovators and leaders of the commercial and marine valve industry, died March 1 at the age of 95. In 1959, Seder purchased Milwaukee Valve, then a plumbing valve manufacturer, with his friend, Max Koenigsberg. Often the first to arrive and last to leave, Seder walked the factory floor wearing a hard hat, installing his work ethic by example. As a result, the business is more than 100 times larger than when it was purchased. The company quickly expanded into naval shipbuilding and government contract work. Milwaukee Valve later diversified into the industrial and commercial sectors, which now are the company's core markets. In 1991, Milwaukee Valve acquired Hammond Valve Co., which produces valves for residential and commercial applications.Today, the company manufactures more than 4,000 products. Diane Seder, Milwaukee Valve's chairman of the board and daughter of Seder, credits her father with developing a global vision before others in the valve industry. "We are a global company today with the consistent quality wherever a valve is made," she said. "Regardless of each plant, we control every step of manufacturing from engineering to production." Milwaukee Valve President and CEO Rick Gianinni added: "Herschel was quite a man. He ran this business from the ground up and dedicated his life to growing and improving every aspect of it.He invested and reinvested in his facilities and his employees." ASA announces staff additions The American Supply Association recently announced the hiring of Bill Erfort as member services manager and Amber Auge as education programs and services administrator for the ASA Education Foundation. Erfort's primary focus on member retention will help current members make the most of their membership investment as well as help new members understand the programs and services that will provide both immediate and long-term value. Erfort also will play a key role in sustaining membership growth, as well as provide ongoing support for marketing and communications. Auge's primary responsibility will involve the administration of ASA University, including the organization and growth of the resources of ASA University's colleges and the new Master of Distribution Management certification program. WinWholesale appoints Midwest area leader Dayton, Ohio-based WinWholesale recently announced it appointed Rob Ferguson as an area leader for four Midwestern states. Ferguson is responsible for overseeing the growth and operation of 42 Win companies in Illinois, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska that represent the Winnelson, Winair, Winlectric, Winsupply, Winwater Works and Winpump brands. Before his appointment, Ferguson was president of Grandview Winnelson in Grandview, Mo. He held that position for five years and has been with the WinWholesale organization since 2005. Murray Supply hosts NCPMA board meeting Winston-Salem, N.C.-based Murray Supply Co. Recently was the host site for the North Carolina Plumbing and Mechanical Association's first-quarter board meeting. The featured guest speaker was second-term North Carolina Senator Richard Burr, who spoke to board members about several pressing political issues in Washington and also talked about industry issues of importance. Topics included early education and training of trade laborers, the future of health care in relation to employees, salary/wages of skilled workers, and the increasing importance of North Carolina to continue to produce talented workers in these fields. Morrison acquires Alamo Appliance Morrison Supply Co. Recently announced it acquired the assets of Alamo Appliance of Fort Worth (Texas). Founded more than 35 years ago, Alamo is transitioning its business to Morrison's location at 5001 Bryant Irvin Road North in Fort Worth. Alamo formerly was located at 100 S. Riverside in Fort Worth. Gary Dollgener will carry on as a sales consultant with Morrison.Dollgener brings 30 years of industry experience to Morrison. Additionally, Beth Ziegenhorn and Kelly Oaks have joined the Morrison team. In February, Morrison parent company MSC Holdings acquired Denver-based Wholesale Specialties. Peabody Supply hosts Jamaica customer event Peabody Supply Co., a division of Hajoca Corp., recently treated its plumbing and heating professionals to a weeklong vacation at the Club RIU in Ocho Rios, Jamaica. Peabody reported a record turnout of more than 60 New England plumbing and heating businesses. For the last 25 years, Peabody has hosted a yearly vacation for its customers as an incentive sponsored by a select group of vendors. This year's vacation was sponsored by Rheem and Slant Fin. A highlight of the trip was the Cool Runnin's private catamaran tour to the famous Jamaican Dunn's River Falls.Together, the group linked hands, formed a chain and hiked up the waterfall. "Great things happen when our industry gets together," said Rich Swatton, a Peabody customer from ModCon Services."Not only can I network and build relationships, I compare notes and get ideas while I'm vacationing. When I'm traveling with my fellow contractors, I create bonds and partnerships that last."
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