Mar-Hy Distributors

May Hy Distributors picMar-Hy Distributors focuses on innovation and expansion to maintain a majority share of the Pacific Northwest HVAC market.

By Janice Hoppe-Spiers

For nearly 70 years, Mar-Hy Distributors has served the Pacific Northwest with commercial and residential HVAC equipment and supplies. The family owned and operated business is led by the second generation and continues to grow and challenge itself to be better, faster and more innovative than its competitors.

“Everything related to a HVAC job you can pick up here. We are different in that we have one location in Milwaukie, Ore.,” President Jeff Schmidt says. “But it’s a business model that has served us well. In Oregon, most of the population is up and down the I-5 corridor and we do a lot of work there and to the north into Washington. We run our trucks three times a day and can put product wherever is needed, usually within 24 hours.”

In 1948, Schmidt’s father-in-law, Macey Hyde, founded the company Day York with his boyhood friend Dick Day. “They would sell ice machines, which were very complicated at the time, to local bars and promised if it broke down they would come back with blocks of ice,” Schmidt says. “Often late at night, they would get panic calls for ice. They would put their top coats on over their pajamas, fill up a garbage call full of ice and deliver it to their customers.”

Hyde bought out Day in 1959. “The company name was changed to Mar-Hy, named after my mother-in-law Margaret Hyde in 1985, when we were cancelled by York and began carrying the RUUD brand,” Schmidt says. “That was a game-changer for us, taking on the RUUD line was a blessing in disguise.  That’s how we got into the new construction market; RUUD had the right product at the right time.” Mar Hy box

Schmidt began his career at Mar-Hy in 1976 in the warehouse and was promoted to a territory manager four years later. He spent 27 years in the field doing outside sales until he and his wife, Susan, purchased the business in 2007 from her father.

Today, Mar-Hy continues to sell RUUD, delivering products daily within a 150-mile radius and overnighting equipment through its network of freight carriers. “We typically grow at a rate of 12 to 15 percent per year,” Schmidt says. “In 2015, we were awarded the Gold Premier Performer Award from RUUD. This award was based on a set of metrics including marketshare, product mix, innovative marketing techniques and year-over-year growth.”

Strategic Partnerships

Mar-Hy does not refer to its partners as dealers. “Dealers sell drugs in cars,” Schmidt says. “We prefer to call our customer’s contractor partners because we work with them to achieve a mutual goal of success.”

Becoming part of the RUUD Pro Partner Contractor Program is a strategic marketing campaign that Schmidt says sets its contractor partners apart from their competitors. “In May, Mar-Hy attended the first-ever Pro Partner bi-annual meeting in Las Vegas where we brought 13 of our partners to participate in a day-and-a-half of meetings and networking with fellow RUUD contractors,” he adds.

Mar-Hy values all of its relationships. “Each contractor partner has individual wants and needs,” Schmidt says. “We try to stay flexible and accommodate our customers’ special requirements. It is all about good communication.”

To keep informed about the industry and stay in touch with its suppliers, Mar-Hy attends the Heating, Air Conditioning & Refrigeration Distributors International (HARDI) conference annually. It also was one of the first distributors to join Blue Hawk, a buying co-op for independent distributors. “Joining Blue Hawk has been very beneficial to my company,” Schmidt notes. “They have opened the doors to new vendors and are fantastic when it comes to helping us grow our business.”

Schmidt says Mar-Hy’s employees are the “lifeblood of the business.” “We have spent years putting our team together,” he says. “Because we hire by referral, we try to find like-minded people who have similar life goals. Mar-Hy is a fun place to work, but there is no place for unethical practices. Even though we have shown steady growth, we still try to retain that family business feel and treat each other with respect.”

Focused on Innovation

In 2008, Mar-Hy added the Daikin ductless line to its product offering.  The Pacific Northwest has become a ductless hot spot with huge cash incentives and tax credits available to consumers. Ductless products offer installation solutions that traditional ducted products cannot provide. 

Mar-Hy understands that product training is essential to job performance, which is why it completed a world-class training center three years ago in its headquarters. “We invested $250,000 to build this facility with fully functioning ‘ductless,’ and ‘ducted’ equipment,” Schmidt says. “We perform both Daikin and RUUD hands- on training on a regular basis and we have contractors coming from all over the country to attend our specialized training classes.”

Mar-Hy wants to be sure it’s always supplying the customer with what they need, which is why in 2005 the company also added a PROSTOCK store. It is a parts and supplies store that features all ancillary items for the company’s products. “When we included PROSTOCK in our store we were the 100th store. Now there are 256 PROSTOCK stores across the U.S.,” Schmidt says. “Adding the PROSTOCK store was one of our better moves because it created a lot of walk-in traffic and opened us up to selling more service and replacement parts.”

Moving forward, Mar-Hy will add a second location in the Pacific Northwest and Schmidt says he would like it to be open in the next two years. “I have twin sons, Matt and Eric, who work with me and have for many years,” he says. “They just turned 29 and have been working with me since they were 16. The plan is they will take over the business in the next seven to eight years. They are amazing young men and totally get what we are doing here.” 

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