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Winsupply History

Winsupply Inc. (formerly WinWholesale Inc.) is a leading American supplier of residential and commercial construction, and industrial supplies and materials to a diversified customer base. Since our founding in 1956, we have provided enterprising entrepreneurs with the opportunity to be a business owner and operate as part of what now are more than 500 wholesale warehouse locations that collectively are the Win Family of Companies. Winsupply is headquartered in Dayton, Ohio.

The Win Family of Companies conduct business-to-business wholesale distribution of plumbing and heating supplies; hydronic systems; industrial pipe, valves and fittings; heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration equipment; electrical equipment; industrial and commercial fastening hardware; commercial fire sprinkler systems; municipal waterworks and utility supplies; domestic, commercial and industrial pumps; and irrigation and landscape supplies.

Winsupply’s vision is that the Win Family of Companies creates loyal, profitable customers by offering them superior solutions both for their everyday needs and unique challenges.

Winsupply’s mission is five-fold:

•    Provide customers with The Win Customer Experience
•    Provide enterprising men and women the opportunity to run a wholesale distribution business
•    Provide an ethical work environment that will attract and retain employees
•    Provide distribution services that provide a competitive advantage for local wholesalers and their customers
•    Provide owner shareholders with an above-average return on investment

Winsupply has invested nearly 60 years of experience in our business model but our core philosophy remains remarkably unchanged even today.

From Our Pre-History

N.O. Nelson

In 1875, Nils Olaf Nelson founded the N.O. Nelson Mfg. Co. in St. Louis, Mo. The company was one of the nation’s earliest manufacturers and distributors of plumbing supplies of all kinds including faucets, water closets, water heaters, valves and fire hydrants. A proud booster of its home city, it had its own exhibit at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis. Nils Olaf Nelson was an early proponent of employee profit-sharing plans, and like some industrialists of that era he founded his own village for his employees and manufacturing purposes.

Through the first few decades of the 20th century, the N.O. Nelson Mfg. Co. prospered, but once Nils Olaf Nelson turned his attention to other ventures, the manufacturing company entered into a period of slow decline. It was hit hard by the Depression. Once it finished contributing to the war effort in World War II, it closed its manufacturing facilities. By December 1954, N.O. Nelson, or NONCO as it was known, had a net worth of about $6.8 million, with 22 branches, 20 regional sales offices and 450 employees in 15 states but its growth was at a standstill.

Now Our Story Begins

Though first disguised as a tragedy, a new beginning for the N.O. Nelson legacy began on March 21, 1958, when the Pueblo, Colo., branch of N.O. Nelson suffered a serious fire. Nelson's management decided it would not rebuild, so they discharged the employees and offered to sell the damaged inventory for its book value.

N.O. Nelson Manufacturing Company

Meanwhile, a company called Primus Inc. had been founded in 1956 by a group of friends and entrepreneurs. Among them were Dayton natives Dick Schiewetz, Robert (Bob) Kuhns and Hastings Baker, Wall Street financial analyst Jack Proffitt and Cleveland investment advisor Steve Wolfe Sr. It was through Bob Kuhns that Primus found out about the Pueblo fire and stepped in to help.

Winsupply Spirit of Opportunity

Three N.O. Nelson employees offered to mortgage their homes and invest all the money they could borrow if Primus would help them reopen the business. By 8 a.m. the following Monday, March 24, 1958, the new N.O. Nelson Co. of Colorado had been formed, a warehouse leased, a profit-sharing plan established, and the employees were calling on customers.

Primus kept majority control of the Pueblo company, but the local employees received the full economic benefits of their partial ownership and with time the value of the company and their investments multiplied many times over. This shared ownership and shared economic risks and rewards is a core philosophy still in effect today and is known at Winsupply as The Spirit of Opportunity.

With capital now available from Primus, their personal money at risk and operations unstifled by a corporate headquarters, N.O. Nelson Co. of Colorado quickly became a success. Primus clearly saw the potential and by the end of 1958 had purchased nearly all of the remaining assets and locations of the N.O. Nelson Mfg.

...To Today

Over the years since, other industries have been added and the Win Family of Companies now counts more than 570 supply house locations in 45 states. Nearly always it is the local companies that develop the new industries and figure out how to serve a customer need in their market. On a consolidated basis, annual sales exceed $2.5 billion. In 2005, a new chapter in our history began when Primus adopted the WinWholesale name.

Then-named WinWholesale (and now Winsupply) acquired Noland Company in 2005, a large regional wholesaler based in Newport News, Va., making it a wholly-owned subsidiary. Noland, a wholesaler founded in 1915 by Lloyd U. “Casey” Noland, provides plumbing, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning equipment, and electrical and industrial supplies to contractors mainly in the Southeast. In 2013, Winsupply began offering its business model of shared ownership, shared economic risk and shared economic reward to Noland Company branches based solely on the performance of the branch location. Though they remain branch operations of a single corporate entity, these locations operate with nearly the same autonomy and self-direction as the local Win locations.

In 2012, Winsupply purchased the assets of Columbus, Ohio-based Carr Supply Inc. A member now of the Win Family of Companies, Carr operates as Carr Supply Co. and has grown from thirteen locations at the time of its acquisition to eighteen locations currently. In 2013, Winsupply added the four locations and assets of Wyatt Irrigation Supply, Inc. in California. In 2015, Winsupply purchased the assets and thirteen locations of Security Supply, Inc. in New York. Also in 2015, Winsupply purchased the assets and single location of Chicago-based M Cooper Supply Inc. Like the aforementioned Carr Supply, these acquisitions all operate as members of the Win Family of Companies.

By comparison, though, there are more than 470 Win companies with local ownership. These industrial supply houses operate under the following brands: Winnelson, Winair, Winlectric, Windustrial, Winfastener, Winpump, Winwater and (notably) Winsupply.

The utility and attractiveness of the Winsupply brand, its recognition in local markets and its acceptance by local wholesalers, customers and vendors alike inspired WinWholesale in September 2015 to change its name to Winsupply Inc.

This name change supports our desire to create a cohesive, powerful brand – Winsupply – that aligns with the changing marketplace, enhances the customer experience, strengthens the local companies and delivers more value to all of the shareholders throughout the Win Family of Companies.