Wholesale distributors in the PHCP-PVF industry are well regarded for their tenacity, hard work and celebrating relationships within the channel. They also are known for working hand in hand to solve work challenges. Oftentimes, acts of kindness and giving back to team members and community are prevalent, but kept under wraps. The impact, however, makes a big statement.
We, as an essential industry, worked tirelessly before the COVID pandemic. When it hit our shores, we collectively gathered to keep the health and safety of our nation at the forefront. The Wholesaler champions the generous outpouring of help and hope from our wholesale distribution community, and showcases the amazing acts of kindness within their communities. While this is just a sampling of amazing givebacks, we know many more stories are to be told.
Join us as we celebrate a few community members and their givebacks — and hope they inspires others, even in the smallest of ways.
Eastern Industrial Supplies
Established in 1980, Eastern Industrial Supplies started in Greenville, S.C. Today, it has a presence in North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee and Alabama. Specializing in the distribution of pipe, valves, fittings and commercial plumbing products, Eastern focuses on exceeding customer expectations through God-honoring values of honesty, integrity, caring, self-responsibility and being positive. The company focuses on a culture of caring in which people are always more important than profits.
Giving back and caring deeply are two of Eastern’s core fundamentals. The distributor values people over profits, and associates on all levels strive to care for one another, care for its customers, and care for others in the community.
“Caring is at the core of our culture,” notes Kip Miller, president and CEO of Eastern Industrial Supplies. “We are intent on caring for the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of people throughout our company, communities and other cultures.”
Eastern established the Eastern Cares initiative in 2002 to focus on this core company value. Caring for the company includes an array of services and support to employees. An Associate Emergency Fund, fully funded by Eastern employees, is available to help any employee in times of crisis. The Educational Assistance Fund helps employees get the education and training they need to meet their career goals.
In addition, Eastern Cares provides scholarships to children and grandchildren of Eastern employees, and adoption assistance for employees who are building families.
Eastern Industrial Supplies’ annual golf tournament — the Eastern Cares Charity Classic — is held each fall through the company’s culture building initiative, Eastern Cares, to raise awareness and funds for the Daily Bread Life Children’s Home (DBLCH) and Bread of Life Secondary School in Tanzania, Africa. All proceeds from the golf tournament are used for “rescuing, caring and equipping people in Tanzania for life,” explains Eastern Cares Director David Kay. Eastern Industrial Supplies, Inc. is proud to announce that the Eight Annual Eastern Cares Charity Classic has been scheduled for October 11, 2021, at the Furman University Golf Course. There is still time to register to participate, as well as sponsor. Please email MJ.Rackley@easternfirst.com for additional details.
DBLCH has provided more than 130 children with a loving home, food, health care, education and employment opportunities.
The Eastern Cares program also affords every employee five days of paid leave each year to participate in care-related work anywhere in the world. Eastern associates have traveled to places such as Romania, Peru, Kenya, Guatemala and Tanzania in service of others.
Established in 1933, Famous Supply is a fourth-generation, family-owned wholesale distributor of heating, ventilating and air-conditioning (HVAC) products, plumbing products, industrial pipe, valves and fittings (PVF), building products and LED lighting. It has 31 branch locations, 3 distribution centers, 10 kitchen and bath showrooms and 19 Famous University classrooms, all located throughout Ohio, western Pennsylvania and West Virginia .
Since Famous Supply’s humble beginnings, the distributor has strived to give back to the communities that support it. It has done so by providing local career opportunities and by supporting numerous charitable causes such as Feeding America food banks, Habitat for Humanity, Make-A-Wish Foundation, Pals In Motion for Parkinson’s disease, Believe in Dreams, and Random Acts of Kindness Everywhere (#RAKE).
“We believe Famous is capable of doing much more,” states Vicki Feola, vice president of marketing at Famous. “There are 702 million people who are living in poverty worldwide. Our team at Famous wants to help change that sobering statistic. By partnering with charitable organizations such as #RAKE, we can put food into our local communities and inspire our associates to give back to their local communities. We are absolutely blessed with amazing customers, associates and industry partners who make our efforts to give back a reality.”
In 2016, Brian Blaushild , vice president of business development, met Ricky Smith, founder of #RAKE and was inspired by the impact he and the organization were making. #RAKE is focused on supporting the community of northeast Ohio by enriching lives, encourage kindness, and promoting the act of paying it forward. The organization works to provide meals each day for kids and families in need. In addition, they have produced masks for frontline heroes, and provided food and delivery services for the elderly.
“Brian started to volunteer at #RAKE’s #HashtagLunchbag pop-up events, and realized there was great opportunity to help pay it forward,” Feola recalls. “Famous hosted its first #HashtagLunchbag event in 2018.”
In July 2021, Famous partnered with the organization to host its fourth #HashtagLunch bag event. Famous Supply’s associates, along with their families gathered together and got to work.
“With music pumping and lots of chatter, we formed smaller groups — some decorated the brown lunch bags, some wrote notes of inspiration to go into the bags, while others made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches,” Feola says. “Before we knew it, we made and packed more than 300 lunches! Each lunch included a sandwich, cookie, apple and bottle of water.
“Some of our group worked clean-up duty, others loaded the lunches up and made a very special delivery to our local, Akron, Ohio, homeless shelter, Haven of Rest Ministries. Although Haven knew we were coming, they were overwhelmed with our generosity and three carloads of bagged lunches. It felt so good to be together with our Famous Family members, outside of our normal workday, to do something really special for our community.”
To date, the distributor has made, packed and delivered more than 1,200 lunches to Haven of Rest.
She adds: “Giving back is near and dear to our hearts. It’s important that we give back in the communities we live and work while inspiring our associates to do the same. To help make giving back more accessible to our associates, we offer paid time off for volunteering and bring opportunities closer to home throughout the year.”
With three locations in West Virginia, as well as a location in Virginia and Kentucky, JABO says it best when it states: “We have earned our reputation as your one-stop supplier. JABO has the resources and capabilities typical of a larger company yet provides all the benefits you expect from your smaller regional independent supplier — the excellence in service; the fast, flexible response of a nimble organization; plus, employees who know you and understand your needs.”
The company leans into its philanthropic givebacks, and understands the importance of weaving it into its company culture.
“It is pretty easy when you have great employees who care about one another and the communities where they work and live,” notes Jay Bazemore, owners and vice president of sales and marketing. “We support many charities in the greater Huntington (W. Va.) area and in other communities where our branch locations are as well. If everyone just took care the most vulnerable in our local communities, our nation would be in a lot better shape.”
The company supports The Huntington City Mission, a nonprofit, nondenominational Christian organization established in 1939 in Huntington, W. Va. The mission is to meet the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of those who are homeless or at risk of being homeless in the tristate area. The Huntington City Mission does this by providing emergency shelter, community feeding program, clothing and other necessities, case management, counseling and chapel services. The HCM served 138,000 meals last year, and is on track to serve 160,000 meals this year.
“For more than 25 years, my father, Jack Bazemore, was a community board member and chairman of The Huntington City Mission,” Jay Bazemore says. “He has since retired from his chairmanship, but still remains active and ready to help when called.”.
“When something is needed at the mission, Jack is one of the first people to be called upon, he’s always ready and willing,” says Huntington City Mission’s public relations coordinator Jodi McDowell. “He is a benevolent leader for the board and the mission, he is a man of integrity.” She summarized Jack’s best advice: “Trust in the Lord and he will direct your path.”
Jay Bazemore describes the meaning of giving back: “As long as I can remember, we have always supported several local charities to different degrees, but the HCM is always No. 1 because of the direct impact it has on the people in need in our community. Knowing the charity’s mission, he wanted to get others involved.
“We start out asking our employees if they would be willing to donate one hour a month to the HCM. After some time, and a visit by the mission’s staff speaking to how far their money (donations) really go, donations go up — year after year. We also send the HCM corporate pledges to offset budget shortages or support some of its many wonderful programs.”
As someone who inspires others to give back, Jay Bazemore says: “It doesn’t matter where you live, as there will always be a need to help those who are homeless or are struggling in your community. The need is greater here than ever since the explosion of opioids a few years back. I’m just so proud of how many of our employees are so eager to help in any way that they can. That is the best reward.”
Locke Supply is a 100% ESOP wholesale distributor headquartered in Oklahoma City, Okla. Focusing on plumbing, electrical, heating and cooling, the company has 187 selling entities in 7 states – and growing. Locke Supply’s value statement says it best: “Character, customer service, employee-owned.”
Philanthropy is woven throughout the culture of the company. “Locke Supply has been blessed with success in the state of Oklahoma since 1955,” notes Kyle Cline, vice president of operations. “We are passionate about giving back to the communities that have allowed our business to grow over the past 66 years.”
Locke Supply supports many local charities, and while at the helm as president and CEO from 2011- 2018, leader Tammi Bryant believed the company could do even more.
“We found that the best way to accomplish our goal of giving back to the community was to create a foundation,” Cline says. And under the direction of Bryant, the Locke Supply management team created The Bryant Foundation of Locke Supply to support its many charitable causes.
“The Bryant Foundation of Locke Supply has no employees or overhead,” Cline explains. “All its workers are volunteers with ties to Locke Supply. By doing this, we can ensure that 100 percent of the money we raise will go directly to the cause it’s intended to benefit. The foundation helps Locke Supply use its partnerships and influence to support worthwhile causes in our communities.”
One such cause that caught the attention of the foundation is Hope United. About a year ago, John Orman III, current president and CEO of Locke Supply, attended a local networking event and met Ken Grant from Hope United, who expounded on how the charity was beginning and its intended mission within the local area. Orman was taken by Hope United’s mission, and brought it to the attention of The Bryant Foundation of Locke Supply, which realized that Hope United would be a great beneficiary for its charity golf tournament.
On July 19, 2021, The Bryant Foundation hosted the golf tournament, with all proceeds going to Hope United. With 288 players playing for the cause, the tournament field was comprised of Locke Supply associates, manufacturer’s representatives and Locke Supply customers. The event raised an incredible $160,000 for Hope United.
“By focusing on charitable causes, we have realized how truly lucky we are,” notes Cline. “A lot of people are struggling in this world and having the capability to provide a positive influence on the community around us has been a great morale booster for the associates involved. Our involvement in local charities has been a great reinforcement of what is important in the communities around us.”