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MARTIN’S CORNER


Doing it — the American Way! I


t is really an honor to have you lo- cate the “Martin’s Corner” article this month again here in The


Wholesaler! I thought I’d leave the month of February out this year to see if you all would come back! Thanks for being here and wanting to see what’s up in my effort to share some great stories with all of you about good solid independent wholesalers in our industry. It’s old news for me to say “I be-


lieve in the power of independents,” but it is true! In the world markets we live and function in today, all types and mindsets of companies (large and small, independents and nationals) are required to cover all the needs all the time of all the end- user customers. That being true, it is still the strong and mobile independ- ent that pays attention to their mar- kets served; that makes sure that their niche markets are covered with steady, consistent and 110% care; and that are always there to fight an- other day. Just like the companies I have writ-


ten about in the last several issues of The Wholesaler, there is a great com- pany headquartered in Birmingham, Ala., that fits that description in every way. I’m talking about American Pipe & Supply. Serving the mechan- ical, commercial plumbing, and in- dustrial PVF contractors in their market area, along with the fire pro- tection segment as well, this com- pany is doing it — “The American Way” for sure! With Jeffrey Beall at the helm as


CEO (25 years of sales and finance experience under his belt), and Bob Kyle as resident, they are without a doubt among the top premier whole- sale companies serving their geo- graphic portion of our great industry. APS was founded in 1977 by a local Birmingham businessman who had departed another industry wholesaler to start the business. At the start up, it was located in one branch on the south side of the city. The original customer bases in-


• Believe in the power of independents


• APS understands contractor viewpoint


• Support for Children’s Hospital


• Hard adjustment to economic realities


• Keeping current with technology


• Strong support of ASA


cluded the local mechanical contrac- tors and industrial accounts. The ad- dition of the fire protection and utility contractors to their customer base was done in the late 1980s/early 1990s. In 1996 Mr. Beall and his business partner had an opportunity to purchase the assets of American Pipe and Supply. That done, they set out to build a company that would provide reliable products and services to a broader market segment of the construction industry. With that effort, it became the company commitment to all of their employees, customers and ven- dors to become the “Supplier of Choice” in their chosen area! As usual, I get carried away in the open- ing dialogue each time I write, but when the story is unfolding, it’s dif-


ing to employ valuable space in their industry magazine dedicated to the independent wholesalers across the U.S. It is a pleasure for us to take the time to share what we can about American Pipe & Supply. APS cur- rently has 70 employees and we op- erate out of four branches serving the Alabama and Middle Tennessee mar- kets. Aside from me as CEO, and Bob as president, we have Mr. Harry Hays who fills the role of VP of sales. I have taken the lead responsibility for setting the overall strategic direc- tion of the company and evaluating new markets and branch expansion opportunities. Bob is and has been very key to our success. He spent most of his career as a contractor be- fore moving into wholesale distribu- tion nine years ago.


•THE WHOLESALER® — MARCH 2011


BY JOHN MARTIN PVF Industry Veteran


part of the TEAM! Now, would you share how your


sales are divided among product cat- egories (PVF, Plumbing, HVAC, etc.) and the break out of your sales be- tween the residential, mechanical, and commercial markets? Kyle: Sure thing. Over 50% of our


sales are pure PVF being largely me- chanical, with industrial sales averag- ing 20%, commercial plumbing around 20% and fire protection at about 10%. Martin: From an old foundry pipe


fitting mechanical type guy like me, that is a great mix, Bob, for compa- nies like ours. What about special or major projects in your area that American has been involved in that are a particular source of pride for you and/or Jeffrey? Kyle: These days they all are spe-


From left to right: Mr. Bob Kyle, President, Harry Hays, VP Sales, and Jeffrey Beall, CEO seated in one of their conference rooms at the Birmingham, Ala. headquarters office.


ficult to stop the pure fun of putting it on paper. To all the loyal readers of “Martin’s Corner,” it is a great pleas- ure to introduce all of you to my good friends, Mr. Jeffrey Beall and Mr. Bob Kyle. Martin: Good morning to you


both, and thanks so much for taking the time to share the story of Ameri- can Pipe & Supply. Your company’s success is yet another great example of independent ideas and plans, cou- pled with great creative management, people, and the financial strength to back up and support markets and market share growth. As the opening question, would one of you please give our readers a snapshot of how the company looks today including your management team, territories/ market segments served, number of employees and current facilities? Beall: Hey, I want to thank you, John, and The Wholesaler for want-


• Be sure to visit www.thewholesaler.com for web exclusive articles and videos! • Kyle: Thanks Jeffrey, and my


thanks to you as well, John, and to The Wholesaler for wanting to tell our story. I have the responsibility for the all operational aspects of the company including branch management, pur- chasing and inventory control. Jeffrey mentioned Harry Hays. He has been 40 years in the plumbing and PVF in- dustry and is responsible for all sales activities for us. We are very happy to have Harry on the TEAM here at APS. We serve the mechanical, com- mercial plumbing, industrial, and the fire protection market segments in the territory, so even in slow times, we stay pretty busy. Martin: Sounds like a great chain


of command, Guys. Knowing you and Bob from activity in industry venues other than the American Pipe offices qualifies me to state that I feel the company is in pretty capable hands. Harry should be proud to be


cial, but one that is particularly spe- cial is the current Birmingham’s Children Hospital. At a cost of $500,000,000, it is a new replace- ment hospital which APS is supply- ing all the chiller plant and hospital HVAC piping, valves and fittings. We are also furnishing the plumbing drainage piping system. Our manage- ment team enjoys giving back to the community and Children’s Hospital is one of the pillars of our healthcare community that we support finan- cially as a company and as individu- als through the Crippled Children’s Foundation. We also want to express our thanks to the many vendors and reps who have contributed through the years. Martin: My hat is off to APS not


only for capturing such a great job, but for the acknowledgement of the nature of the job with a giving back attitude. I know children are very spe- cial to you and Jeffrey, as they should be to everyone — and when it comes to a child in medical need or a home- less/mistreated child of any age, my heart cries out for them. As a man- agement TEAM, APS is right on the mark; Thanks for that great answer. So, have you had to change the


focus of your business or do anything differently at APS during the eco- nomic slump the industry has been (Turn to Current... page 58.)


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