Cregger Co. Inc.’s business starts and finishes with its people. “For us, it’s always about finding the right person and then giving them the tools and infrastructure they need to succeed,” Vice President of Operations Matt Cregger says. “We empower our employees to come up with the best solutions for our customers.”

Based in West Columbia, S.C., the wholesale distributor serves contractors in the plumbing, HVAC and electrical industries with products such as HVAC equipment, water heaters, pipe, fittings and fixtures. Cregger’s father and current CEO, Morris Cregger, started the company in 1978 when he acquired Kline Supply Co. in Columbia.

Plumbing doesn’t work unless it’s complete – try removing any pipe or joint from underneath your kitchen sink and see if it still works. Likewise, for a large number of customers throughout the Chicago area, their operations wouldn’t function the same without Bornquist Inc., which since 1937 has represented some of the most respected manufacturers of fluid-handling products in the industry. President Mike Hultgren says the company has grown from supplying only pumps, to today where it sells large systems including pumps, heat exchangers, cooling towers, boilers, water heaters, frequency drives and much more, but it has never lost sight of the values and principles that have made it successful. 

How do you stock products for customers when they don’t know what is going to break next? This is the conundrum that Bearing Service Inc. solves daily. Approximately 60 percent of its customers are maintenance, repair and operations (MRO) employees in manufacturing plants who maintain and repair their production equipment. They use the bearings, power transmission products, linear motion, seals and related accessories that Bearing Service distributes.

“They value our ability to offer them quick turnaround on their orders, to source product quickly and that we stock inventory for them, so we can get products to them and minimize any downtime,” Senior Vice President John Masek declares. “They value the fact that we can deliver products to them, and they also value our expertise and applications knowledge. So if it is a product that they have not seen before, they can rely on our experience and expertise to be able to source it for them promptly and make sure they get the right product for their application.”

Americhem International celebrates its 25th anniversary this year of supplying cleaning products, equipment and technologies for a variety of facilities and offices. The company has grown significantly thanks to its magnetic nature – customers come to Americhem because they’ve heard great things regarding its business practices and how it treats its customers. Even other companies have asked to be absorbed into the business, allowing for substantial growth over the years. 

Mark Warner joined Americhem in 2012 after he had developed a relationship with the company through one of its suppliers. Eventually this blossomed into a friendship with CEO and Founder of Americhem Mark Zimmerman and created the opportunity for him to become vice president of the company. But after the company experienced double-digit sales revenue growth, Warner was promoted to president.

Since 1970, AJ Jersey Inc. has been serving the forklift needs of central New Jersey’s manufacturers, distributors and warehouses, and President David Rizzo says the company has stayed in business thanks to its dedication to providing more to its diverse customer base than a source for equipment. With the company’s focus on providing aftermarket service and other value-added offerings, AJ Jersey has become a trusted partner for many of the region’s most prominent businesses. 

The company was started by Rizzo’s father in 1970, and since that time AJ Jersey has grown into one of the region’s leaders in forklift sales, rentals and service. The central New Jersey region is served by multiple large ports, meaning AJ Jersey has a very broad base of customers that cover multiple sectors. “Our customer base is basically comprised of many things, including small and light manufacturers, large warehousing companies, food distributors and a lot of freezer warehouses,” Rizzo says, adding that retail and clothing distributors also make up a significant portion of the company’s customer base. 

As with many industries, the Internet had a disruptive impact on the heating, ventilation and air conditioning market. Easily accessible information made consumers savvier. When a business reacts to such market changes, support from its partners and suppliers can make a major difference in the company’s success.

Air Purchases Inc., a Massachusetts-based independent HVAC equipment wholesaler, recognized this shift in 2004 and began taking a more active role in the growth of its dealers’ businesses. “Gone are the days when technicians alone decided what systems would go into a customer’s home,” President Rob Engel says. “Customers today are more educated and they know they have options. Contractors today need to be equipped to close sales in a highly competitive retail environment. We’ve sought out progressive HVAC manufacturers willing to partner with us in offering this type of support and training to our customers.”

Operating since 1922, Abel Womack understands that change has always been a constant. Headquartered in Lawrence, Mass., Abel Womack is a dealer, designer and service provider of material-handling equipment. With additional offices in Edgewood, N.Y., and Wallingford, Conn., the company provides solutions to clients that help them move materials and optimize their warehouses or manufacturing facilities. 

Founded as Robert Abel & Co., the company was initially an overhead crane distributor before expanding offerings to include lift trucks, conveying systems, storage and retrieval systems, robots and many other types of automation. In 1998, it acquired Womack Material Systems Inc. and subsequently rebranded as Abel Womack. Today, its clients include companies in the grocery, retail, apparel, manufacturing, pharmaceutical, parcel delivery and third-party logistics sectors.

Without industrial gases, most products people use every day could not be produced or manufactured. “The industrial gas business is a mystery to most people,” WestAir Gases and Equipment Inc. President and COO Steve Byers says. “Our products and services are used by everybody in this country multiple times a day and they don’t even know it, in the manufacturing of electronic devices, the food you might consume tonight if it is prepackaged, such as meats, potato chips and nuts – a lot of these boutique food packagers use our products and services in modified atmospheric packaging so we can control the environment before they seal the food. Our gases are used in R&D life sciences research – the list goes on and on.”

WestAir handles a variety of specialty gases. “Our bread-and-butter is really six or seven different products, and from there, it can be various blends and mixtures,” Byers says. “Our predominant products are atmospheric nitrogen, oxygen and argon, but we’re also a big reseller of helium, a natural resource, and we sell a lot of CO2. One application for CO2 is for beverage carbonation. This is one of the largest consumers of CO2, and it is used in other applications, as well. We sell to a lot of restaurants and bars, and they use our CO2 to put the fizz in the beer or soda, and use nitrogen to push wine and other products.” 

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