Dayton-area supply company's sales explode as it grows in U.S.

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Moraine-based Winsupply Inc. recently announced the opening of a partner company in Houston, Texas — another step in the growth of the wholesaler that supplies the nation with construction and industrial supply products.

Winsupply now shares risk and equity with partner companies — 580 of them — in 45 states. The Houston company — Winsupply of Houston — is only the latest.

The partnerships are not franchise arrangements. It’s a way of doing business you won’t find anywhere else, Rick McCann, Winsupply vice president, supply chain, recently said.

“Our company’s philosophy and business model can’t be found in any textbook,” McCann said.

In all, Winsupply has 260 employees working in two Moraine headquarters buildings. More than 80 people work at local Winsupply-affiliated companies in the Dayton area, while 40 people work at the Miamisburg distribution center.

The parent company takes 70 percent of the equity in its partners. Winsupply puts in most of the capital, while the local owners and employees invest what Richard Schwartz, Winsupply chairman of the board, calls “sweat equity.”

“We will continue to identify geographic locations throughout the U.S. with strong economies and opportunities for wholesale distribution,” Roland Gordon, Winsupply president and chief executive, said in a statement.

The parent company — today the fourth largest wholesaler for HVAC and plumbing supplies in the nation — or “central office” offers support services, including accounting.

“We share the risks and we share the rewards,” Schwartz told members of the Dayton Area Logistics Association in that association’s recent tour of the company’s Miamisburg distribution center off Byers Road.

While the model is unique, it works, company leaders say. The company has grown from $5 million in sales near its beginning in the mid-50s to $3 billion in sales today.

“We built that supply chain from absolutely nothing to a national wholesale distributor,” McCann said.

Celebrating its 60th anniversary last year, McCann and Schwartz said the company has been enjoying double-digit sales growth.

It’s not just a national enterprise. Company leaders say Winsupply remembers its home and has supplied crucial supplies in the building of Kettering Health Network’s new cancer center, the new downtown Dayton main branch library, the new Dayton Children’s Hospital tower and other well known local construction projects.

Opening regional distribution centers — such as the one the logistics association toured — was the right thing to do, Schwartz said. It makes more sense for local company owners to buy from the parent company’s distribution hubs than from vendors, as long as the distribution centers are profitable themselves, he said.

“Our job was to get in between the local companies and the manufacturers (of supplies),” Schwartz said.

The company’s distribution operations began with a modest, 5,000-square-foot site on Dryden Road back in the 1980s. By 1986, the company had moved distribution to a larger site, and by 1989, to a still larger Liberty Lane warehouse, with two new distribution sites opening elsewhere.

Today, the company has a 256,000-square-foot distribution center in Denver. It also has a 200,000-square-foot center in Middletown, Conn., along with 200,000-square-foot centers in Miamisburg and Prince George, Va.

The Miamisburg center is a hub for more than 21,000 products and materials heading to 18 states.

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