Latest from Industry Perspectives

The 100-Year Club

April 7, 2020
A salute to the electrical distributors who have been in business for at least 100 years.

While perusing EW’s editorial archives and paging through back issues from its first years of publication when it was called the Jobber’s Salesman, I started noticing some familiar names of electrical distributors. It got me thinking about how many business challenges these companies have overcome over the past 100 years and how unique it is that some of them are still operating under the same name.

That’s quite an accomplishment when you consider all the merger and acquisition activity over the years. EW and Electrical Marketing newsletter have covered the acquisitions of close to 600 distributors since the 1990s, and there were dozens of other purchases before we started logging them into our database.

It takes decades of grit, determination and company pride to do it. Of course, it also helps if employees have a good attitude. Some marketing materials entitled “Find the Best Way” that Northland Electric Supply (which became part of Werner Electric Supply) published in 923, said “Work, Smile and Hustle — That is the prescription that will cure the worst case of the business blues in the world.”

As part of Electrical Wholesaling’s 100th Anniversary celebration we would like to congratulate the following electrical distributors that have been in business for at least 100 years.

Colonial Electric Supply Co., King of Prussia, PA – Started operations in Philadelphia as Colonial Electric Co. in the early 1900s; Joe Bellwoar bought the company’s inventory in 1972 and renamed the business Colonial Electrical Supply.

Consolidated Electrical Distributors Inc. (CED), Irving, TX  — Started in 1913 as Incandescent Supply. Changed name to Consolidated Electrical Distributors in 1964.

Crescent Electric Supply, East Dubuque, IL — Founded in 1919 by Titus B. Schmid.

Dakota Electric Supply, Fargo, ND — Fargo Plumbing began to offer electrical products in 1901.

F.D. Lawrence Electric Co., Cincinnati — Founded in 1904.

Graybar Electric Co., St. Louis —The company has its roots in Gray & Barton, founded in 1869 by Elisha Gray and Enoch Barton. Became Graybar Electric Co. in 1925.

Harry Cooper Supply, Springfield, MO — Incorporated in 1914 as a distributor of plumbing and heating supplies; electrical supplies added in 1934.

Hunzicker Brothers, Oklahoma City —Walter and Frederick Hunzicker founded Hunzicker Brothers in May, 1920.

Johnson Electric Supply Co., Cincinnati — Founded in 1907 by Claude Johnson, Sr.

Madison Electric Co, Warren, MI — Founded in 1914 by brothers Morris and Max Blumberg.

McNaughton-McKay Electric Co., Madison Heights, MI — Founded in 1910 by John McNaughton and Arch McKay in Detroit, MI.

Medler Electric Co., Alma, MI — Founded in 1918 by William Medler.

Meletio Lighting & Electrical Supply Co., Dallas — Founded in 1920.

Michigan Chandelier, Novi, MI — Nathan Silberstein opened the business in 1914.

Revere Electric Supply, Mokena, IL — Founded in 1919 by Fred Eiseman, Sr.

Rumsey Electric Co., Conshohocken, PA— Founded by George and Eugene Rumsey in 1895.

Springfield Electric Supply —Started up in 1912 as Meador Electric Co., an electrical contractor and supply company in Springfield, IL. William Schirring, Sr., changed the name to Springfield Electric Supply when he acquired sole ownership of the company in 1929.

Standard Electric Supply Co., Milwaukee, WI — This fourth-generation company was founded in 1919.

Steiner Electric Co., Elk Grove Village, IL — Founded in 1916 by George Steiner.

Teal Electric Co. Troy, MI — Established in 1891.

Werner Electric Supply, Cottage Grove, MN — Started in 1920 as Triumph Electric Supply Co., which became Northland Electric Supply. Werner acquired Northland in 2001.  

Source: EW’s first listing of the largest electrical distributors in the U.S., published in 1970 and a directory of electrical distributors published by The Jobber’s Salesman in 1928. If we missed anyone, please  contact Jim Lucy at [email protected].