Western Supply Receives Small Business Award
Tuesday, June 04, 2019
Western Supply was established in 1949 by Jack Martin’s dad, Willis Martin, and two other parties. It was a business that sold plumbing and heating supplies to plumbing contractors through route sales in western Kansas. Willis purchased the business outright from the other partners in 1970 and Jack purchased it from his dad in 1985. The business began with eight employees and today has a total of 34, with stores in Hutchinson, Great Bend, Hays and Dodge City. The building was originally located at 315 W 3rd in downtown Hutchinson to be close to the railroad for delivery of supplies. Between the years of 1968-1985, Western Supply changed its name to Western Air, focusing on heating and air sales and metal fabrication. When Jack purchased the business in 1985, it was reopened as Western Supply and included plumbing supplies once again. In 2002, Jack purchased Colladay Hardwareto to further expand their offerings and complement the products they currently offer. Colladay Hardware is one of the oldest businesses in Hutchinson, having been in business since the late 1800’s. Colladay covered the same territory and had many of the same customers, so it was a natural fit for Western Supply.
Currently located on East 14th in the Industrial area on the east side of Hutchinson, Western Supply focuses on wholesale sales to contractors and businesses. They have a showroom with many of the latest plumbing items displayed to show what’s available. They sell HVAC equipment (including components of thermostats, controls, ductwork, etc.), pumps and irrigation supplies. They have a metal fabrication shop, a unique offering compared to most suppliers, and also sell wholesale hardware supplies. They sell to all of Western Kansas and still have the route sales as well as offering online ordering for trade customers. The only Western Supply location other than Hutchinson with a showroom to display available items is in Hays. What makes Western Supply unique is the business has been within the Martin family for 70 years, and through the years they have combined hardware sales with their plumbing and HVAC wholesale activities. The 3rd generation is now involved with Jack’s son, Doug, responsible for its operations and Scott as the Hutchinson Location manager. A 4th generation granddaughter, Harley, occasionally substitutes with office duties.
Government regulations and the impact on small businesses is the biggest challenge for Western Supply, and covers a wide range of issues including provision of health care and trucking regulations. Competing against online sales is another big challenge but Western Supply remains focused on wholesale selling to local contractors, commercial and government agencies. There has also been an exponential increase in the number and type of plumbing supplies available which then increases the amount of inventory on hand that must be carried. Western Supply has invested in technology to help with this, implementing a bar code and scanning system to remain competitive and keep a tighter control on inventory.
As a company, Western Supply is very family friendly. All employees are offered health care, a 401K, flexible scheduling and more. Many of the employees have been with the company long term, with one person being there for over 30 years.
Western Supply has been a long-term Chamber member and several of their employees are involved with local schools and community events, as well as the company sponsoring various school functions.
Western Supply has been, and continues to be, a committed presence in the business community of Hutchinson and Western Kansas. They are always adjusting to keep up with the changes and demands in the business world. They go along, day after day, doing business and always trying to do better.
Thank you for all you do for our community!