Northeast Wholesale

NEW Headquarters Canton MA BuildingNortheast Wholesale’s owners take pride in the relationships the company has built with manufacturers and customers.

By Jim Harris

A box of nails supplied by Northeast Wholesale (NEW) is more than what it seems. “We are really innovators when it comes to private-label branding on hand-driven nails – we can put our customers’ name, store codes, website and address on every single box that goes out of our warehouse for them,” Co-owner John Hurwitz says. “This has really aided our customers in differentiating themselves from big-box stores and other competitors.”

The company began offering private-label nails in the early 1990s at the suggestion of Rick Hurwitz, the company’s co-founder and other owner. In addition to customizing boxes of nails for its customers, NEW also offers nails in boxes bearing its own brand and logo.

“Doing this has really allowed us to differentiate ourselves from other suppliers,” John Hurwitz adds. “Private labeling allows the contractor on the job site to know where he got the nails and be able to reorder them – it’s like leaving a business card on every box.”

The company’s customers include independent lumberyards, small chain stores and tool suppliers that belong to the Specialty Tools And Fasteners Distributors Association (STAFDA). Northeast Wholesale box

For 26 years, Northeast Wholesale was the leader in private labeled generic collated fasteners. Understanding a major shift in the pricing of “brand” fasteners, the company moved all of its customer base over to genuine Bostitch and Hitachi. “Consistent packaging and quality at the price of generics made the re-focus towards branded fasteners the right choice for our customer base,” Hurwitz adds.  Partnering with the best brands in the market has provided NEW’s customers with the best quality, appearance and name recognition in the market.

Northwest Wholesale offers private-label and brand-name fasteners, tools and building products from manufacturers including Bostitch, DeWalt, Johns Manville, Hitachi, Max, GRK, 3M and Werner.

“We have a wide breadth of brand-name pneumatic fastener products,” Hurwitz says. “We’re the only distributor that offers full lines of Bostitch and Hitachi fasteners as well as Max [products].”

Northeast Wholesale serves customers in the northeastern United States from its headquarters and warehouse in Canton, Mass. The company also operates a branch in Kenduskeag, Maine.

‘A Great Learning Experience’

The Hurwitz brothers, who share the title of company CEO, have owned the company for the past eight years, following the passing of their father, Irving. Irving and Rick Hurwitz founded the company in 1990 as a supplier of generic pneumatic fasteners to building material dealers. Northeast Wholesale gradually added private-label products and brand-name products to its portfolio.

John Hurwitz joined his family’s company in 1994, and has worked in various capacities there including in the warehouse as well as in sales, marketing and everything in between. “My brother, father and I literally wrote all the orders, packaged them up, put them in shrink wrap and delivered the orders in one-ton vans,” he says of his early years in the company. “This was a great learning experience for us, and helped us understand every level of the business.”

John Hurwitz oversees the company’s operations and marketing efforts, while Rick Hurwitz is mainly responsible for leading its sales efforts. John Hurwitz serves as a member of the STAFDA board of directors.

Growing and Evolving

The company continues to grow under the Hurwitz brothers’ leadership. In 2010, Northeast Wholesale expanded its footprint when it acquired a company in Maine. The company has since expanded to southern Pennsylvania as well as in New York and New Jersey.

John Hurwitz says this growth, which began during the Great Recession, is his greatest professional accomplishment. “It was a huge challenge to navigate the company while maintaining our workforce and ensuring that even in the leanest of times we could support them,” he says. “The efforts to supply the customers and set the path for the future was daunting to say the least. There were many weeks that we felt we may have had to make tough calls, but we saw it through and came out better on the other side.”

Other recent investments and improvements to the company’s operations include the outsourcing of its trucking fleet. Operating its own fleet of eight trucks as well as its warehousing business became difficult for the company as it grew, necessitating the change. “Up until two years ago, I was in the trucking business as well as the fastener business,” Hurwitz says.

The company now works with transportation and logistics service provider A. Duie Pyle, which now employs its drivers, maintains its truck fleet and assumes all shipping responsibilities. “It’s still my product they’re shipping, but if we receive a call about a late or missed delivery, that’s their concern,” he adds.

Northeast Wholesale also continues to evolve its service offerings and product lines. The company recently added a new Phillips Fastener drywall screw line as well as Werner ladders to its offerings. These products, and the rest of the company’s offerings, are now available to customers via an online web portal launched as part of the company’s recent website redesign.

Northeast Wholesale also recently improved its ability to find and store products as a result of its addition of warehouse and inventory management systems.

The company plans to grow and improve even more in the next few years. “Our focus is to continue the hyper growth we have seen in the past two-and-a-half years,” Hurwitz says. “This needs to be accomplished in conjunction with keeping pace operationally and continuing to diversify our portfolio of products for our customers through a rigid process of diligence and market research within our area of coverage.”

Building Loyalty

John Hurwitz says he is most passionate about three particular parts of the company’s operations. “The first [element] is the hiring of good talent and providing that talent with the tools, support and training to ensure that they succeed within our organization. Second is having a partnership vs. transactional relationship with our vendor community and sharing our goals and objectives so we can work together to meet them,” he says. “And third, I believe in having outstanding customer service. We strive to and have personal relationships with as many customers as possible, through traveling with our salespeople, attending events and holding training symposiums for our customers.” 

The experience of Northeast Wholesale’s inside and outside sales staff enables it to provide exemplary service. Sales staff members bring more than 150 years of combined industry experience to their jobs. “Our product knowledge and years of experience are a big asset to us,” Hurwitz says. “We are really able to adjust on the fly to what our customers’ needs are.”

The company’s family oriented nature also makes it highly responsive to customers’ requests. “If something needs to be addressed or tweaked, our customers don’t have to go up the corporate ladder,” he adds, noting he and his brother are each highly responsive to customers and employees. “We will work directly with customers and customize services directly for them.”

Northeast Wholesale works closely with its manufacturing partners in a number of ways. These include setting and maintaining minimum advertised pricing (MAP) on products, which allows dealers to price them competitively without being undersold by Internet-based distributors, Hurwitz notes.

“I’m proud of the relationships we’ve built between the people who work here and the people who supply products to us and our customers,” he adds. “I feel an emotional bond with all of our customers and suppliers because they’ve been loyal to me and my brother and helped us remain competitive and grow their business as well as ours.”

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