Rosen Plumbing Supply Co.

Rosen Plumbing Supply Co. knows that its customers have no shortage of options when it comes to procuring plumbing and heating supplies. The Tacoma, Wash.-based company distinguishes itself from big-box stores and other distributors by being the most knowledgeable in its region and meeting its clients’ needs. 

“I think we have a cohesive team that really understands that the customer is the key, and customer service is how we will separate ourselves from the competition,” Managing Partner Adam Rosen says. “Everyone can buy the same items and at the same price, so what we try to do is be the best at service. We’re big enough to buy correctly, but small enough to react quickly, which is a good combination that has served us well.”

For one of its customers – a large mechanical contractor – the company developed a staging process that involves separating and staging pipes and other plumbing supplies for multistory office and residential projects by floor and by room. “We worked together with our customer to build a delivery system that allows them to work and receive materials more efficiently,” he adds. 

The company serves residential and commercial contractors, property management companies, governmental clients and others in the greater Puget Sound region of western Washington. Rosen Plumbing Supply operates branches in Tacoma, which also serves as its headquarters, as well as in Everett, Lacey, Bremerton and Kirkland, Wash. The Kirkland and Lacey locations feature state-of-the-art designer plumbing showrooms – branded as Water Concepts – for residential customers as well as contractors. In Tacoma, there is a “stand-alone” Water Concepts showroom.  The showrooms, managed by Devin Rosen – Adam’s cousin – feature product displays from major manufacturers including Kohler, Grohe, Moen, Hans Grohe, Amerec and Elkay. 

Rosen Plumbing Supply’s staff draws on years of experience to assist customers. “Our dedicated team of knowledgeable, outside sales staff are continually visiting our customers to make sure our customers receive the service they deserve,” the company says. “We also provide job quotes and submittal and operation and maintenance manuals on all of the commercial projects we are awarded. Our quotation department can even put submittals and O&M manuals on a disk for easy data storage.”

The company’s employees are encouraged to enhance their skills, particularly by taking online classes through the American Suppliers Association. “We want them to move up in the company, learn and be knowledgable so we can better serve customers,” Rosen says.

A Family Legacy

Adam Rosen credits the company’s customer service focus and its ability to retain long-term employees to its family oriented atmosphere. Founded in 1946, the company is now in its third generation of ownership by the Rosen family. The company is led by Adam Rosen’s uncle Harvey, its president; and Matt and David Rosen, Adam’s brothers. Matt Rosen is the branch manager of the Kirkland office and David Rosen is the company’s general manager. “I work closely with [David] on all significant matters,” Adam Rosen says. “As our general manager, his leadership with the branches has also been a large reason for our continued success.” Harvey Rosen’s sister, Dianne Arensberg, is also involved in the company.

 Adam Rosen has been involved in the company since the mid-1970s, when he worked in its warehouse during the summer and school holidays. After graduating from the University of Washington business school in 1984, Rosen served as branch manager at the Bremerton office, which serves a largely military customer base, as the city is home to a Naval shipyard and nuclear submarine base. 

In the early 1990s, he played a role in the opening of the Kirkland branch. “When I went over to that office, I noticed that with the advent of the big-box retailers, we needed to make a change and build a different customer base, so I took it upon myself to start a commercial division,” Rosen says.

After initially serving as a “one-man band” within the commercial division, Rosen grew it to the point where it’s now more than 50 percent of the company’s overall revenue. “That was a huge paradigm shift for us,” he says. “With that division, we recognized that we needed to grow our customer base within different segments of the wholesale and distribution market.”

Creating Efficiencies

The work ethic demonstrated by Rosen and his family has trickled down to all levels of the organization. “We believe in building teamwork and communication on all levels, and are open to any and all ideas,” Rosen says. “We welcome input from anyone in the company about things that we can do better. Ultimately, what we want to do is serve the customer as best as we can and create efficiencies within the organization so we can offer better prices and better service.”

Recent company investments include upgrading the Tacoma warehouse with radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology that enables it to better track its inventory. 

The company also recently invested in telematics systems to better track its trucks. “We’re always looking for any innovation we can implement to increase our business’ efficiency and bottom line,” Rosen adds. 

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